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: An Introduction to Mythology
Author: Spence, Lewis, 1874-1955
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 "An Introduction to Mythology" ***

http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made












This volume is an outline of the principles of mythology, chiefly
with reference to its more modern developments. Hand in hand with the
sister sciences of folklore and comparative religion, it has advanced
so rapidly within the last twenty years and altered so greatly from its
ancient aspect that it seems an entirely new science. Thirty years ago,
if a student of myth had been asked who Janus was, he would probably
have replied: "A Roman god of origins." To-day he might see in him a
development of the 'kirn-baby.' So does the study of collected facts
and analogies enable us to make broad generalizations. Quite recently,
for example, Dr Rendel Harris advanced the theory that Aphrodite was
originally a mandrake, while Professor Elliot Smith contends that her
'larval form' was that of the cowrie-shell. Apollo, according to some
writers, was originally an apple, Bacchus a sprig of ivy, and Zeus
himself a flint-stone fetish.

With such metamorphoses of the elder gods a rather long-suffering
public has become somewhat ruefully acquainted. But with the value of
the new scientific machinery which has discovered these analogies,
which has laid bare the true nature of myth, they are not so intimate.
The purpose of this book is to provide them with a review of mythic
science from its beginnings down to the latest guesses of contemporary
authorities. This plan may appear too ambitious, in the present chaotic
condition of the science, but a real necessity exists for some such
elementary study in order to cast light into the popular darkness on
the subject.

The two great drawbacks of mythology are lack of accepted definitions
and of an historical and philosophical review of the subject on popular
lines to co-ordinate the results of research. No science can expand
without definition, and the definitions here offered have been accepted
by most authorities as good working rules, so that, having won the
approval of the ablest and most experienced specialists of the day,
they may be regarded as an important help to the study of mythology. A
useful series of definitions was brought forward with the countenance
of the Folklore Society, but the mesh of most of these was far too
wide. Seemingly prepared during personal consultation, they suffered in
consequence, and the general result was surprisingly inadequate. How
different it has been when written opinions have taken the place of
verbal discussion may be observed by anyone who cares to compare them
with the present series.

The author would note here that he desires to illustrate his theories
as far as possible by myths which have come under his own notice and
have been collected by himself, not wishing to have directed against
him the usual criticism of the mere collector of _Märchen_, who appears
to regard the theoretical writer on mythic science as an arm-chair
plagiarist. But he has also used as examples many myths which appear
in the several volumes of this series, and is further obliged to the
published writings and personal correspondence of the late Mr Andrew
Lang, Sir James Frazer, Dr Marett, Mr Sidney Hartland, the late Sir
George Laurence Gomme, Professor G. Elliot Smith, and many others. He
has to thank Messrs Longmans, Green and Co. for courteous permission
to quote from Lang's essay "The Ghastly Priest" in his _Magic and

Lastly, he would plead for a kindly consideration of his own system of
mythological elucidation--the eclectic, embracing all he thinks best in
other systems, whereas it is the bane of most writers upon mythology
and allied subjects that the pride of some one theory is strong in
them. If it be asked how one is to be certain of selecting the best
from each system, the answer is that one must walk in these caverns by
the light of one's own common sense.

It is hoped that the comparative tables will be found of use to
students. Much care has been taken in compiling them, but it is not
claimed that they are in any way exhaustive.








The function of mythology is the investigation and explanation of myths
or tales relating to the early religious and scientific experiences
of mankind. It throws light upon the material, methods, and progress
of primitive religion and science, for many myths are an attempt to
explain physical as well as religious phenomena.

Myth is one of the great objects of the science of 'tradition' (Lat.
'that which is handed down'), the others, with which myth is only too
frequently confounded, being folklore and legend. It is hoped that
the following list of definitions will prove of value to students of
the subject, as it is certainly the most precise and embracive yet


Myth, folk-tale, and legend may be generally defined as traditional
forms of narrative. That is, all are embraced within the term

_Myth_. A myth is an account of the deeds of a god or supernatural
being, usually expressed in terms of primitive thought. It is an
attempt to explain the relations of man to the universe, and it has
for those who recount it a predominantly religious value; or it may
have arisen to 'explain' the existence of some social organization, a
custom, or the peculiarities of an environment.

_Mythology_. Mythology as a term implies (_a_) the mythic system of any
race; (_b_) the investigation of myth.

_Folklore_. Folklore means the study of survivals of early custom,
belief, narrative, and art.

_Folk-tale_. A primitive tale (_a_) of mythical origin; (_b_) of purely
narrative or æsthetic value.

_Legend_. A story, generally of real places, often (though not
necessarily) of real persons, handed down by 'tradition.'


Mythology is the study of a primitive or early form of religion while
it was a living faith.

Folklore is the study of primitive religion and customs still

Some authorities regard folklore and mythology as almost
interchangeable words; others look upon myth as the groundwork of
folklore; but for purposes of study we shall be wise if we regard as
fundamental myth any tale in which a god or demigod figures which
explains the making of the world, or the origin of some primitive
custom among the peoples of antiquity or the backward races to-day,
while folklore may denote the study of _fragments_ or _survivals_ of
old belief or custom found among uneducated or semi-educated people
in civilized countries. Thus it is correct to speak of the folklore
of England, Germany, or Italy, applying the word to the surviving
superstitions and fragments of older faiths to be found in these modern
countries among the uncultured classes; but to speak of the folklore
of African, Australian, or American savages when we are dealing with
the living religious beliefs of these people is highly incorrect. True,
fragments of older belief are frequently discovered among primitive
people, but the expression should not be used to designate their living
religious beliefs.[3]

It will now be clear that in the present volume our concern is with the
science of myth alone--that is, with religious beliefs and conjectures
as to the nature of things of primitive, ancient, or barbarous peoples,
and _not_ with modern religious science, philosophy, or theology.

The questions touched upon in this introductory chapter will be more
fully outlined later on, and are here presented in order to familiarize
the reader with the general subject-matter of the science before
entering upon more detailed discussion.


The sciences of mythology and comparative religion overlap at many
points, but comparative religion is a branch of religious science or
philosophy, whereas mythology deals with mere myths, or, under the
more antiquated designation of 'comparative mythology,' compares the
myths of different races. In myths too, however, we hear of the birth
and nature of gods, the creation of the earth, and the primitive
'reason' for certain ritual acts. As these matters are also discussed
by comparative religion or religious science, mythology and comparative
religion often contemplate the same phenomenon at the same time.
Mythology is therefore a part of religious science. This leads us to
our next heading:


The attempt to define religion has exercised the philosophic mind
through centuries, and never more so than at the present time, although
it is now generally recognized that all purely scientific attempts to
determine it are doomed to failure, as its origin and nature must be
sought conjecturally through psychology. Dr E.B. Tylor proposed as a
'minimum definition' for religion "the belief in spiritual beings"; but
this does not embrace ritual, which Robertson Smith thought[4] of first
consequence in primitive religion, dogma and myth being secondary.[5]
Sir J.G. Frazer considers religion "a propitiation or conciliation
of powers superior to man,"[6] a definition not always appropriate.
Crawley (in his _Tree of Life_, p. 209) defines the religious object
as "the sacred," a very obscure definition. Herbert Spencer derived
all religion from the worship of the dead. Max Müller considered
that "Religion consists in the perception of the infinite under such
manifestations as are able to influence the moral character of man."
The fact is that our present knowledge of the human mind does not
permit us to make any final definition of the word 'religion,'[7]

The study of myths, then, is assisted by comparative religion, while
myths in their turn often explain gods,[8] men, and the universe, and
customs and organizations of society. Many of them, indeed, are early
efforts at a reconciliation of the tales of gods and heroes with the
religious sentiment, which recognized in these beings objects for
worship and respect.[9]


But these tales remained full of irrational and savage notions, a
legacy from primitive ancestors. They chimed ill with later religious
sentiment, which was shocked and puzzled by them, and priests and poets
attempted to explain them away. Thus, among the Greeks, Theagenes of
Rhegium (_c_.520 B.C.) considered the tale of the battle of the gods
'unbecoming,' and represented it as an allegorical account of the war
of the elements. The Egyptians, according to Plutarch, puzzled by the
circumstance that so many of their gods were pictured in animal form,
invented as an explanation the tale that in a moment of danger the gods
concealed themselves in the bodies of animals. As peoples grew more
civilized they attempted to cleanse their national or tribal myths
from the coarse and barbarous tone which savage predecessors had given
them, and many of the myths of the higher civilizations of antiquity,
as they have come down to us to-day, have obviously passed through one
or more stages of refinement and revision at the hands of some priest,
poet, or philosopher anxious to free his race from its supposed coarse
and savage pristine history.[10]


A good example of how older myths are accounted for by a modern
priesthood[11] is the story of Pacari Tampu, the 'House of the Dawn,'
a legend of the Collas, a Peruvian tribe. From the caverns of Pacari
Tampu issued four brothers and a sister. The eldest ascended a mountain
and cast stones to all the cardinal points of the compass to signify
that he had taken possession of the land. The other three were envious
of him, and the youngest succeeded in inducing him to enter a cave,
whereupon the youngest brother closed the mouth of the cave with a
great stone and imprisoned the eldest there for ever. On pretence of
seeking his lost brother he then persuaded the second to ascend a high
mountain, from which he cast him, and, as he fell, by dint of magic
art changed him into a stone. The third brother, scenting treachery,
fled. The first brother would appear to symbolize the oldest known
Peruvian religion, that of the thunder-god Pachacamac, the second that
of an intermediate fetishism or stone-worship, the third the cult of
Viracocha, the water-god, while the fourth seems to be the more modern
sun-worship, which in the end triumphed officially over all, as is
proved by the name of the youngest brother, 'Pirrhua Manca' ('Son of
the Sun ').


Max Müller seriously suggested that the "savage and irrational" element
in myth arose out of a "period of temporary madness through which the
human mind had to pass." "Was it," he asks, "a madness identically
the same in the south of India and the north of Iceland?" The state
of mind, the mental attitude, was and is, of course, very much the
same among savages or barbarians from Cape Horn to Novaia Zemlia; but
no 'madness' is mingled with the mental equipment of primitive man,
although he is irrational. What Professor Müller mistook for 'madness'
was the child-like propensity of the savage or barbarian, or even the
uncultured person, to delusion, ignorance, and distortion of facts and
experiences. The imbecility of savage theories and stones is due to a
scanty stock of acquired ideas and lack of experience in wielding the
higher powers of reason. In short, savage or primitive man, although
highly observant, explains such facts as come within his range of view
by employing imagination rather than reason.[12] He is in a condition
of mental childhood, when imagination is very much more powerful than
reason. Thus he imagines that all other physical entities in nature
are, like himself, gifted with powers of speech, volition, and thought.
This is called 'animism'--_i.e._ the bestowal of a soul (Lat _anima_)
upon all objects.[13] The winds and the waters speak and obviously
travel; the trees are articulate; the lower animals he regards as his
equals. He does not bring reason, as we understand it, to bear upon his
experience. The 'wonders' in these tales are no marvels to him; the
brutalities of savage life recounted in them, the barbarian atmosphere
and colour, are his everyday experiences.[14] He hands the tale on; but
his descendants fail to comprehend its meaning and aim; its almost
animal savagery repels them, and at length more advanced generations,
shocked at what seems to them blasphemous nonsense, discard it
altogether, or so cleanse and refine it as not infrequently to render
its original meaning entirely undiscoverable.


As an example of how the savage element displays itself in the mythic
tales of such a refined and poetically gifted people as the Greeks, the
myth of the birth of Zeus may be instanced. When Cronus had displaced
Uranus, the first monarch of Olympus, he took to wife Rhea, one of
the Titan race. Gæa, his mother, however, prophesied that as he had
overthrown Uranus, he himself would be overthrown by one of his own
children. So uneasy did he become in consequence of this prediction
that whenever a child was born to him he tore it from its mother's arms
and swallowed it whole. Five children did he swallow in this manner,
greatly to the grief of Rhea, who, lamenting to Gæa the loss of her
offspring, was advised by her next time she had a child to take a stone
and wrap it in swaddling-clothes and give it to Cronus to swallow as
if it were the infant, at the same time carefully concealing the real
child in some secluded place until it reached maturity. This Rhea did,
and Cronus duly swallowed the stone she gave him, imagining it to be
one of his own children and therefore his possible future destroyer.
But Rhea hid the child in a cave in the island of Crete, where the goat
Amalthea nourished him with her milk. There were placed in the infant's
vicinity armed men, who, whenever he cried, performed a war-dance,
clashing their spears and shields to drown his wailing; and so within a
year the boy grew to full manhood. At length Gæa gave Cronus a draught
which made him vomit up the stone he had swallowed, together with the
five children previously devoured--two gods and three goddesses. These
young gods made war upon the elder deities, and after a ten years'
struggle were victorious over them, banishing them to the dismal region
of Tartarus.

In this myth the savage element is strikingly apparent. Through the
mists of allegory we seem to discern (1) the replacement of one tribal
head by another; (2) the prediction of the tribal prophetess or crone;
(3) a condition of cannibalism; (4) a reminiscence of fetishistic
stone-worship in a stone being mistaken for a young god; (5) the
nurture of a child by a goat, perhaps a primitive form of nursing;
(6) a war-dance by armed savages; (7) the younger men of the tribe
banishing the older men to a less desirable spot; (8) the primitive
right of the youngest son to succeed the father.

Now we find numerous myths similar to this in all quarters of the
world. "Bushmen tell of _Kwai Hemm_, the devourer, who swallows
that great god, the mantis insect, and disgorges him alive with all
the other persons and animals engulphed in the course of a long and
voracious career. The moon in Australia, while he lived on earth, was
very greedy, and swallowed the eagle-god, whom he had to disgorge.
Mr Im Thurn found similar tales among the Indians of Guiana. The
swallowing and disgorging of Heracles by the monster that was to
slay Hesione is well known. Scotch peasants tell of the same feats,
but localize the myth on the banks of the Ken in Galloway. Basutos',
Eskimos', Zulus', and European fairy-tales all possess this incident,
the swallowing of many persons by a being from whose maw they return
alive and in good case."[15]

Many circumstances of myth go to illustrate its primitive and barbaric
origin. The tales of gods who masquerade as animals are probably
reminiscent of a time when they were worshipped in animal form.[16]
The Greek mysteries, which were merely acted myths, conserved the
savage rite of daubing the initiate with clay, a practice common among
African, Australian, South American, and Papuan uncivilized peoples.
They also retained from primitive times the use of the 'bull-roarer,'
two flattened pieces of wood attached to a string, which on being swung
produces a mysterious humming noise, a device employed by many savage
folk to keep away women and the profane from the performance of their
rites and ceremonies. Early man, engaged in ceaseless strife, regarded
his gods as in constant conflict with giants or with each other. They
abduct each other's wives, they are cowardly, gluttonous, immoral, and
given to magic, just as is savage man himself.


Although the Vedas of India are 'sacred' works, principally
repositories of devotional hymns, they bear traces of this barbarism
which permeates all mythology. We find the deities in their pages
comporting themselves as one might expect the lowest savages to do,
although the whole religious sentiment of the work is opposed to these
acts. The later Brahmanas, treatises on the intricacies of ritual
compiled by a priestly caste of fairly exalted character, also teem
with myths in which barbaric thought is encountered. Their pages,
indeed, are the meeting-place of savagery and semi-civilization. In
one myth the mother of Indra is a cow, Indra being represented as a
drunkard who intoxicates himself with _soma_, and as a murderer who
actually kills a priest. These circumstances in his myth are relics
of an age when he was, although a god, regarded as man-like, and a
savage man at that. This is due to the religious instinct called

Nearly all the Greek peoples worshipped stones, some named after the
gods[17]--a relic of fetishism--and their later religion kept much of
savage practice. Homer speaks of Athene as 'owl-eyed.' Was she once
worshipped as an owl? The deities in the _Iliad_ are extraordinarily
human, not to say barbarous, in their propensities, and have a knack of
transforming themselves into animal shapes when pursued or pursuing,
loving or hating. They reflect the Greek idea of Homer's day, yet they
are even older.


Enough has been said to illustrate the existence of the savage element
in primitive myth. Not only do later myths account for the religious
element in the more primitive examples, but they explain, or attempt
to explain, primitive scientific notions as well.[18]

The desire to know the 'reason why' early creates a thirst for
knowledge, an intellectual appetite. "When the attention of a man
in the myth-making stage of intellect is drawn to any phenomenon or
custom which has to him no obvious reason, he invents and tells a story
to account for it."[19] The character of most primitive myths amply
justifies this statement. They are mostly explanations of intellectual
difficulties, answers to such questions as, What is the origin of or
reason for this or that phenomenon or custom? How came the world and
man to be formed as they are? In what manner were the heavenly bodies
so placed and directed in their courses? Why is the lily white, the
robin's breast splashed with red? How came into force this sacrificial
custom, this especial ritualistic attitude, the detail of this rite?
The early replies to these questions partake not only of the nature of
myth, but of science--primitive science, but science nevertheless--for
one of the first functions of science is to enlighten man concerning
the nature of the objects and forces by which he finds himself
surrounded, and their causes and effects. These replies are none the
less scientific because they take the shape of stones. Their very
existence proves that the above questions, to clear up which they were
invented, were asked. They cannot be accounted for without the previous
existence of these questions. Mythology is the savage's science,
his manner of explaining the universe in which he lives and moves.
Says Lang: "They frame their stories generally in harmony with their
general theory of things, by what may be called 'savage metaphysics.'"
Of course they did not think on the lines of a well-informed modern
scholar. Müller remarks in an illuminating passage:

"Early man not only did not think as we think, but did not think as we
suppose he ought to have thought."

One of the chief differences between the outlook of the primitive
savage and that of civilized man is the great extension in the mind of
the former of the theory of personality, an outlook we have already
called 'animism,' Everything possesses a 'soul,' or at any rate
will-power, in the judgment of the savage. But not only are sun, sky,
river, lightning, beast, tree, persons among primitive or backward
peoples; they are savage persons.


Research and travel combine to prove that earliest man and the lowest
savages cannot be found without myths, which, as we have seen, are
both religion and science. The first recognized stage in man's mental
experience is animism, so that the earliest myths must have been
'animistic.'[20] Roughly, animism is the belief that everything has a
soul or at least a personality, but no race has yet been discovered
possessing purely animistic beliefs. Even the lowest races we know
have developed these considerably, and so we are only acquainted with
animism in its pure form theoretically,[21] as a phase of religious
experience through which man must at one time have passed. It is, in
fact, a fossil faith. But just as fossil animals and plants have their
living representatives to-day, so do ideas and conceptions representing
this petrified form of religion and science still flourish in our
present-day superstitions and our present-day faiths.

Animistic myths naturally show primitive ideas regarding the soul.
Animism will be dealt with more fully hereafter, but in this
introductory sketch we will cite one or two examples of animistic myth
to illustrate what was, so far as we know, the earliest type of myth.
Stories are found telling of journeys to the spirit land, of talking
animals, of men metamorphosed into animals and trees, and these are
all animistic or originate in animistic belief.[22] Modern folk-tales
containing such stories possess a very great antiquity, or are merely
very old myths partly obscured by a veneer of modernity. Spirit stories
which have obviously a primitive setting or atmosphere are almost
certainly animistic. Thus tales which describe the soul as a bird
or a bee, flitting about when the body is asleep, are either direct
relics of an animistic age, or have been inspired by earlier animistic
stories handed down from that age. The tales of spirit journeys to the
Otherworld, the provision of implements, weapons, shoes, and so forth,
placed in the grave to assist the soul in its progress to the Land of
Shadows, invariably point to an animistic stage of belief--the belief
in a separable 'soul,' in an entity entirely different and apart from
the 'tenement of clay' that has perished.


There are not wanting authorities of discernment who believe that
even this early phase was not the primitive phase in the religious
experience of man. Of these the most clear-sighted and perspicuous in
argument is Dr Marett, reader in anthropology at Oxford University.
In a pregnant chapter-preface in his highly suggestive book, _The
Threshold of Religion,_ Dr Marett says: "Psychologically, religion
requires more than thought, namely, feeling and will as well; and
may manifest itself on its emotional side, even when ideation is
vague. The question, then, is, whether apart from ideas of spirit,
ghost, soul, and the like, and before such ideas have become dominant
factors in the constituent experience, a rudimentary religion can
exist. It will suffice to prove that supernaturalism, the attitude
of mind dictated by awe of the mysterious, which provides religion
with its raw material, may exist apart from animism, and, further,
may provide a basis on which an animistic doctrine is subsequently
constructed. Objects towards which awe is felt may be termed powers."
He proceeds to say that startling manifestations of nature may be
treated as 'powers' without any assumption of spiritual intervention,
that certain Australian supreme beings appear to have evolved from
the bull-roarer,[23] and that the dead inspire awe. This he calls
'supernaturalism,' and regards it as a phase preceding animism.


Very closely allied to and coexistent with animism, and not to be very
clearly distinguished from it, is fetishism. This word is derived from
the Portuguese _feitiço_, a charm, 'something made by art,' and is
applied to any object, large or small, natural or artificial, regarded
as possessing consciousness, volition, and supernatural qualities,
especially magic power.[24]

Briefly and roughly, the fetish is an object which the savage all over
the world, in Africa, Asia, America, Australia, and, anciently, in
Europe, believes to be inhabited by a spirit or supernatural being.
Trees, water, stones, are in the 'animistic' phase considered as the
homes of such spirits, which, the savage thinks, are often forced
to quit their dwelling-places because they are under the spell or
potent enchantment of a more powerful being. The fetish may be a
bone, a stone, a bundle of feathers, a fossil, a necklace of shells,
or any object of peculiar shape or appearance. Into this object
the medicine-man may lure the wandering or banished spirit, which
henceforth becomes his servant; or, again, the spirit may of its own
will take up its residence there. It is not clear whether, once in
residence or imprisonment, the spirit can quit the fetish, but specific
instances would point to the belief that it could do so if permitted by
its 'master'[25]

We must discriminate sharply between a fetish-spirit and a god,
although the fetish may develop into a godling or god. The basic
difference between the fetish and the god is that whereas the god is
the patron and is invoked by prayer, the fetish is a spirit subservient
to an individual owner or tribe, and if it would gain the state of
godhead it must do so by long or marvellous service as a luck-bringer.
Offerings may be made to a fetish; it may even be invoked by prayer or
spell; but on the other hand it may be severely castigated if it fail
to respond to its owner's desires. Instances of the castigation of gods
proper are of rare occurrence, and could scarcely happen when a deity
was in the full flush of godhead, unless, indeed, the assault were
directed by an alien hand.[26]

We have seen that the ancient Greeks had in their temples stones
representing 'nameless gods' who seem to have been of fetish origin.
Thus a fetish may almost seem an idol, and the line of demarcation
between the great fetish and the idol is slender, the great fetish
being a link between the smaller fetish and the complete god.

Myths showing fetishistic belief are few and obscure, but the writer
recently unearthed, in the fishing village of Newhaven, near Edinburgh,
one which is a good example of the survival of a fetish myth and of the
rise of a fetish to godhead.


Perusing an old book entitled _Tales and Traditions of Leith,_ the
writer read of one Brounger, "an old fisherman who at one time resided
at Newhaven, and who, when unable to go to sea himself, used to ask his
neighbours for a few oysters or fish on their return from fishing,"
and curse those churlish enough to refuse. The curse was invariably
effective, so that in the end the fishing community became anxious to
propitiate an individual whose spoken word carried such weight, and
regarded his demands in the light of an established claim. According
to tradition, Brounger passed away, but his name remained a 'thing
to conjure with'--literally. For a Newhaven fisherman to be told
"Brounger's in your head-sheets" meant that the speaker cast on his
vessel and all who sailed therein an evil spell, only to be broken by
making the boat describe a circle in the water three separate times.

The student of myth will regard this 'old fisherman' with an eye of
professional suspicion. Why should the mariners of Newhaven fear and
mistrust the mere mention of one who in days more or less distant
levied a petty toll of oysters or flounders from their fathers? He will
find the scent grow hot when he is informed (and this is the point)
that Brounger was 'a flint, and the son of a flint.' For the flint is
the fetishistic emblem of the thunder-god, and Brounger was a deity of
the storm.

Among many peoples the flint-stone symbolizes thunder, for from the
flint comes fire. In America, for example, Tohil, who gave the Kiches
of Central America fire, was represented by a flint-stone. Such a
stone in the beginning of things fell from Heaven to earth, and broke
into a myriad pieces, from each of which sprang a god--an ancient
Mexican legend which shadows forth the subjection of all things to him
who gathers the clouds together in thunder. This is the germ of the
adoration of fetish stones as emblems of the fertilizing rains. The
rain-charms of the Navaho Indians are hung round stones supposed to
fall from the clouds when it thunders. With the Algonquin Indians a
certain rain-god has a body of flint which, broken, is changed into
fruitful vines. The blood of Tawiscara, another Indian deity, turns to
flint as it falls from his wounds. Hathor, the sky-goddess of Egypt,
was the 'Lady of Turquoise,' as was the Mexican water-goddess. Is not
the 'elf-arrow' (the flint arrow-head) a 'thunderbolt' to peasants of
all countries, Britain not excepted? So we begin to see why Brounger
was a 'flint,' and the 'son of a flint.' In days when the first
Teutonic fishermen settled on the coast of Midlothian they brought with
them a thunder-god, the root of whose name may perhaps be found in the
old Gothic word _brinnan_, to burn; hence Brünger, 'the burner,' 'the
devastator,' 'the wielder of lightnings,' worshipped in the flint and
placated by gifts from that sea-harvest which he had power to give or
to withhold.

From the Hebridean Isle of Fladdahuan comes a similar story. On the
altar of the chapel of that isle, says Martin in his _Western Isles_,
lay a round bluish stone, always moist. Wind-bound fishermen walked
sunways round the chapel and then poured water on the stone, whereupon
a powerful breeze was sure to spring up. Solemn oaths were also sworn
upon the stone. A similar stone was possessed by the Isle of Arran,
kept in the custody of a woman (the hereditary priestess of its cult?),
and "wrapped up in fair linen cloth." In Inniskea, an island off the
Irish coast, a stone wrapped up in flannel is brought out at certain
periods to be adored by the inhabitants. It is kept in a private
dwelling, and is called in the Irish Neevougi. It is prayed to in
times of sickness and is requested to send wrecks upon the coast.[27]
All this is within the ritual of rain-making, but Brounger, though
a thunder- and rain-god, was requested _not_ to visit his folk with
tempest for the reason that their business lay in the furrows made by
the keel and not in those of the plough.

One certain proof that Brounger was a supernatural being exists in a
folk-poem to be found in the above-mentioned work on Leith traditions.
A wedding ceremony is in progress, when Brounger glares through the
window at the merrymakers. At once a cry arises that he must be
placated. Sings one fisherman:

     "Let ilka body gie 'm a corse [copper piece],
     And Jock may gie him twa,
     An' the chiel will sune hae in his maut [drink],
     Syne he'll forget it a'.
     And when he's at the land o' Nod,
     To make the matter tight,
     I'll score the loon aboon the breath,
     An' syne we'll be a' richt."

To "score" a wizard (or witch) "aboon the breath," and thus procure
some of his blood, rendered the possessors of it immune from the
malice of the sorcerer. So we see that Brounger was at least no mere
'Longshoreman Billy,' earning a livelihood by terrorizing his brother
salts, but ranked in some measure with the supernatural host. It is
just possible, indeed, that he may possess a common origin with the
Russian Perunu or Peroun, whose name also signified 'striker' or


Totemism is a phase of religion frequently encountered in myth. Briefly
and crudely defined (and any brief definition of it must essentially be
crude), the totem is an animal, plant, or inanimate object connected
traditionally with a certain social group which takes its name from
the totem or uses it as a symbol. The persons composing this 'group'
suppose themselves to be descended from the totem animal or plant, or
to be related to it. There is a magico-religious bond between the totem
animal and themselves, and the totem may not be eaten by the members of
the community of which it is the patron unless in a ceremonial manner
and at stated seasons.

Examples of the totem in myth are, as has been said, frequent. In the
Roman myth of Jupiter and Leda, for instance, we encounter Jupiter
in the form of a swan; many of the Egyptian animal-headed gods are
totemic; certain swine-gods of the ancient Britons were of the same
class; and we know that some of our ancestors would not eat geese, just
as certain Red Indians will not eat beaver or racoon, because these
animals represented, or represent, the beast-patron of their tribe.

About the beginning of the eighteenth century certain French
missionaries--among them the Jesuit Lafitau--were struck with the
importance of totemism in the religious and social life of the North
American Indians. Lafitau saw more clearly than any of his colleagues
the nature of this peculiar socio-religious condition, and was even led
to apply what he saw among the Iroquois Indians to the interpretation
of the Greek Chimæra! During the first part of the nineteenth century
the facts concerning totemism began to reach Great Britain from
missionaries and travellers in every part of the globe. Moreover,
allusions to what were undoubtedly totemic conceptions could be traced
in the authors of antiquity--Diodorus, Herodotus, Pausanias, Ælian,
etc. In 1869 McLennan pointed out that many totemic customs and beliefs
survived in various civilizations, ancient and modern. About 1885
Frazer and Robertson Smith approached the subject with a larger body of
facts. Later, Tylor, Spencer, Lubbock, Lang, Jevons, Cook, and Grant
Allen threw themselves into the study of this remarkable phase of
socio-religious life.


In this introduction we are dealing with the various divisions, more
or less arbitrary, made by students of myth and comparative religion,
and will not here attempt any description of the processes by which
spirits of the animistic, fetishistic, and totemic types evolve into
perfected deities. In a condition of polytheism we encounter the gods
fully evolved, and often arranged in a hierarchy closely resembling the
social polity of the tribe or people from whose religious imagination
it has sprung.

Polytheism--a multiplicity of gods--is a condition arrived at by more
than one route. Several great and powerful deities may shed a number
of attributes and variants which themselves become personalized into
gods. Egyptian mythology teems with examples of this, as almost all its
principal gods absorbed or gave birth to several others in this manner.
For example, from Horus was evolved Horus the Elder, Horus the Younger,
Heru-an-Mut (a local god worshipped at Edfu), Heru-Khenti-Khat (a
god with a crocodile's head), the Horus of Khnemu ('Horus of the Two
Horizons,' or the Harmachis of the Greeks, a form of Ra, the sun-god),
Heru-Behudeti (who prevailed in the southern heavens at midday), and
so forth. Gods belonging to certain towns or religious centres were
collected and grouped, perhaps by priestly influence, into a pantheon
in order of their importance.

Among semi-civilized people, then, the activities of the greater
gods are constantly being enriched by new functions. Dialectical
misunderstandings led to descriptive terms which brought about a change
in divine names. The fortunes of kingdoms or royal races, migration
and conquest, the contact of race with race through trade and travel,
the adoption of foreign deities, all served to modify and expand the
pantheons of the ancient world.


Monotheism--the worship of one god--may emerge from polytheism in
more ways than one. A certain god by dint of a miracle, because he
is the deity of a conquering race, because of the enterprise of his
priests, or by absorbing lesser gods, becomes the most powerful and
popular deity in a state or neighbourhood. Or he may be the god of
the reigning dynasty, a circumstance sufficient to secure for him at
least a fashionable recognition so long as that dynasty survives. We
usually find that such gods have vested in them the right to pardon
sin, and they are indeed the founts of righteousness in virtue of their
all-sufficing nature. But, apart from all the above considerations, the
rise of moral feeling and a higher standard of conduct, order, and life
were connected with the communal rise of monotheistic worship and the
more exalted religious outlook it brings.


Tylor has stated that myth displays a regularity of development which
cannot be accounted for by motiveless fancy and must be attributed
to laws of growth. These laws, as has been seen, are practically
universal in their application. But besides those forces which bring
the myth into being--those demands of primitive man for explanation and
intellectual satisfaction--there are other factors which begin to work
upon myth at birth, and do not cease to act upon it, in succession,
until perhaps it loses its earlier characteristics.

Thus we first find, going to work by analogy with certain contemporary
savage examples and by induction, the purely animistic myth. As we have
seen, this bestows personality and will-power upon inanimate objects,
glorifies animals, and is practically without religious significance.
Such a myth is found among the Chinook Indians of the north-west coast
of America in the adventures of Blue Jay, a bird with human attributes
who travels to the country of the Supernatural People and succeeds in
defeating them in climbing, diving, whale-spearing, and archery. As
we possess it, the myth has undoubtedly been influenced by successive
waves of advancing native thought, but no sophistication by European
influence is discernible. The impudence and effrontery of the Blue Jay
bird led to its adoption as the central figure in many a tale, and,
later, as the hero of the universal story of the 'Harrying of Hell,'
in which a supernatural being traverses the country of the dead and
brings defeat and disgrace upon its inhabitants in order to show the
savage mind that it was possible to conquer death and Hell. Thus we
have emanating from an animistic idea (1) the bird as person (in the
myth a 'person' is spoken of as splitting wood with his beak); (2)
the bird as tale-hero; (3) the bird as vanquisher of death and Hell.
Further elaborations of the myth, had social and tribal circumstances
permitted of its growth, might well have shown us Blue Jay as the
winged god, the principle of 'evil,' or perhaps in an even more exalted
mythic capacity. Had the Chinooks remained undiscovered in their own
environment and been capable of the evolution of a literature, who
shall say to what heights of sanctity the conception of Blue Jay might
not have risen?


Lest the reader unaccustomed to the developments of mythic law think
such a statement exaggerated, he shall be shown the valuable 'test of
recurrence,' frequently employed by the rational experimentalist in
myth, a test which, conversely, is his undoing if his conclusions are
ill founded. The myth of the Aztec war-god Uitzilopochtli is similar
to that of Blue Jay. It recounts how Uitzilopochtli, guided by a bird,
led the Aztecs from the Underworld (?) country of Aztlan to the valley
of Mexico by means of a peculiar call. Later he appears in Mexican myth
in the full panoply of the national god of war, the most important
figure, save one, in the Aztec pantheon. To him human sacrifice was
rendered, and the greatest temple in the land was erected. His cult
boasted an exclusive high priest, and in all respects he was regarded
as the national god of the Aztec race. Yet he never resigned certain
of his bird-like characteristics--a circumstance from which he derived
his name, signifying 'Humming-bird Wizard,' and denoting that he was a
bird before he took human shape.[28] Paste images of him were eaten at
certain festivals by way of a communion rite.

The personalized bird is to be met with not only in American myth, but
in European and Asiatic story as well. The Romano-Greek winged Mercury
was originally almost certainly such a figure as Blue Jay. Like the
Chinook god, he was sprightly, vivid, fond of practical joking, and
a notorious thief. Picus, the Latin war-god, was a woodpecker, whose
picture adorned the banners of his devotees. The god, in human form,
wore a woodpecker on his head. Instead of becoming a national deity
like Uitzilopochtli, Blue Jay might, in the hands of a people of equal
imaginative capacity to the Greeks, have evolved into a mere messenger
of the gods, or under the more sober influences of Judaism have become
a cherub or an archangel--such are the diversities of racial character
and its effect upon religious development.

Myth is hedged round and protected from change by the spirit of
sanctity, but it may fall a prey to the religious spirit when more
fully evolved, for what is sanctity to one age is often blasphemy
to its successor, and that which appears worthy of retention to
religious conservatives and priests at one period may well be regarded
as an abomination by their official descendants. Thus we find the
philosophers of Greece almost to a man attempting to purge the myths
of their race from the grossness of barbaric ideas; we note, too, the
strivings of the Egyptian and Babylonian priests to combine rival
myths and to bring older religious story into line with more modern
theological ideas--in a word, to modify the traditional myths of the
race so that the old scientific and religious explanations of the
universe--the myths--took quite a new shape.


The question then arises, What are the true causes of mythic change? If
the conclusions previously presented be correct, these are:

(1) The evolution, growth, and advance of theological ideas. Thus
a myth acceptable in 'animistic' times might not prove so under a
monotheistic or even polytheistic _régime_. The myth which would apply
to a bird- or animal- or tree-god might not be applicable to a man-like

(2) The growth and development of the idea of the sacred and of
ethical ideas. The barbarities and abominations of early totemic and
other animistic myth, apart altogether from shocking the religious
sensibilities of people in later ages shocked their moral feelings
as well, and this resulted in more or less drastic changes, which,
however, do not altogether disguise the original story.

(3) Adventitious circumstances, such as racial feeling and
idiosyncrasy, the deliberate or accidental fusion of two or more myths
by a priesthood or by force of popular belief or acquiescence.

(4) The circumstances in which myth survives the religion or living
faith with which it was originally connected. Thus on the official
demise of a religion it may continue to be celebrated secretly, and
this secret celebration may degenerate into magic and its myths change
into folk-tale.

It follows from these premises that practically all myth is of extreme
antiquity,[29] and once a myth becomes established it may, for many
reasons, undergo considerable alteration by successive generations.
Its character of an early human 'explanation' of the universe is lost
in the passage of generations, and it comes to require explanation.
Thus it is understood, more or less correctly, in later times to
refer to a genuine historical occurrence, or as an allegory upon
natural phenomena, as it is unlikely that the upholders of a religion
with fixed tenets would deliberately manufacture myths, however they
might purify or combine those with which their theological system
was connected. The difficulty in popular acceptance of a newly
forged religious story, the manifest impiety of the proceeding and
its necessary character, are all too apparent. Apparent, too, is the
sufficiency of the mere alteration or 'editing' of myths to account for
such minor theological differences as arose, even under a polytheistic
_régime_ of the least advanced type. With very few exceptions, the
polytheistic systems of antiquity contained so many added and alien
deities that slight alteration would suffice for the full adoption of
the new-comer into the pantheon. This process must not be mistaken for
religious laxity, as the alien god was almost invariably identified
with one or other of the national deities, and the myth would merely be
altered so far as necessary.


Instances occur in which myths of exceedingly ancient origin have
received a wholesale 'editing' at the hands of later scribes. One of
the most striking instances of such a process is that of the Babylonian
creation myth, which recounts the famous combat between the god
Bel-Merodach and Tiawath, the terrible dragon of the abyss. In the myth
in question the ancient Accadian concept of the fathomless deep and the
Babylonian idea of the abyss, respectively entitled Apsu and Tiawath,
are represented as husband and wife, an example of mythic amalgamation
common enough. But from an attribute of Tiawath is formed a third god,
named Mummu, who is described as the son of the two original deities.
In such an innovation we can assuredly trace the hand of the later
mythographer, who, with less skill and greater levity than is usual,
has ventured to evolve an entire trinity from one concept--that of
the primeval abyss. Thus from the Babylonian and Accadian concept of
'the deep,' essentially one, has arisen an entire trinity of evil. A
further addition is made to this infernal band in the shape of Kingu,
whom Tiawath calls her 'only husband'; but as he enters the mythic
field Apsu and Mummu leave it, and are heard of no more in the course
of the tale. It may be that at this point the story was taken up by
a new scribe, who did not approve of the action of his predecessor
in describing the hostile trinity, originally one conception, as
three separate deities--but that is merely conjecture. The Babylonian
cosmogony as we possess it is presented in purely epical form, and it
is practically certain that in this shape it differed greatly from the
originally accepted myth upon the same subject. Indeed, the inclusion
in it of later gods proves it to be a good example of myth which has
undergone transformation more than once.


It has been said that the chief divisions of myth correspond to
the chief problems which the universe presents to the curiosity of
untutored man. Thus we find that most myths will fall under such
heads as the origin of the world, the origin of man, the origin of
the arts of life, star myths, sun and moon myths, myths of death,
myths of fire-stealing, hero myths (including tales of the adventures
of demigods), myths regarding taboo, beast myths, myths of journeys
through the Underworld or Otherworld, myths to account for customs or
rites, and other less important varieties.


This is a good place to discuss the vexed question whether all myths
have sprung from one common centre, or whether each one is the
spontaneous creation of man's brain in separate parts of the world.

Both theories possess a measure of truth, for certain tales have
undoubtedly been widely disseminated, some of them being altered by
foreign influence, while certain others are obviously of spontaneous
growth. Examples of widely disseminated stories are readily
encountered. The solar hero, who as son of the sun comes to earth to
instruct men in the arts of life, and after a strenuous mundane career
returns to his father's bright kingdom, is common to Greeks, Celts,
Teutons, and Red Indians. Flood myths, again, are as widely spread as
any variety of tale.

Those who uphold the theory of the origin of myth in one centre and
its wide dissemination have not so far explained fully how myths
became so widespread. Of course the purchase or capture of slaves,
intermarriage with alien women, intercourse with alien peoples, trade
and commerce, may account for many similarities,[30] but the question
yet awaits reply, "Can myths 'drift' across many thousands of miles of
sea-water?" The complete isolation of Australia throughout the ages,
and the similar situation of America, two continents which possess, as
a late distinguished student of myth was wont to say, "the whole bag
of tricks" of mythology as found elsewhere, show that the answer is
not a simple one. In any case, if there be any genealogical connexion
between the myths of the Old World and the New, the myths of Asia and
Australia, it must be of extreme antiquity, dating from before the
remote geological period when all communication was cut off between
America, Australia, and the rest of the globe. That may not have
been so very long ago, comparatively speaking, for America, but for
Australia it must have been "at a time so remote as to permit of no
traditions. No record, no folk-tales, as in the case of the Maoris of
New Zealand, are preserved by the Australians ... nothing, as A. W.
Howitt points out, that can be twisted into referring even indirectly
to their first arrival."[31]

Dr Klaatsch of Heidelberg says that the Australians are "a generalized,
not a specialized, type of humanity--that is to say, they are a very
primitive people, with more of the common undeveloped characteristics
of man, and less of the qualities of the specialized races of
civilization." It is likely, however, that they are closely related to
the Dravidians of the Indian Deccan, and that they are not so low in
the scale as Klaatsch believes. Even so, the very distant date at which
they arrived in the Australian continent precludes the likelihood of
their carrying with them any form of religious belief that was not of
an even more archaic character than those we are studying.[32]

Flood myths possess an almost world-wide similarity. We find the
story of the man and woman who escape the universal deluge in a
cunningly contrived boat or chest in Greece, Assyria, Palestine,
Mexico, and other countries. In such stories we have good examples of
myths apparently disseminated from one original tale or event; but
that resemblances between myths are no criterion of a common origin
is proved by widespread examples in which circumstances of time and
geography forbid all possibility of borrowing. The belief that once the
soul had partaken of the food of the Underworld it might not return to
earth is common to ancient Greeks, Finns, and Red Indians, and if any
original conception gave rise to the notion in these widely separated
countries it must be sought in an altogether archaic and prehistoric


Myths generally become altered or 'sophisticated' by contact with a
higher civilization than that of the people which originally developed
them. The myth of Joskeha and Tawiscara given on p. 191 is a notable
instance in this connexion. Some barbarous mythic systems have become
coloured by Biblical narrative, but it is not safe to conclude so
because of a surface resemblance. The rule holds good, generally
speaking, that myths found current among primitive people and having
marked ethical characteristics in which 'good' and 'evil' are sharply
contrasted almost certainly show sophistication by the agents of a
superior civilization. But if the rule were to be ruthlessly adhered to
it would not admit the evolution of religious belief or the heightening
of the ethical standard among the lower races, who must pass through
such phases of development as those through which our fathers passed,
with this exception, of course, that the process is quickened in their
case by contact with races possessing a much higher standard of general

By a process of interaction all mythic systems of uncivilized peoples
are probably at the present day highly sophisticated, so that to
encounter a truly spontaneous myth uncoloured by alien belief or
priestly conception is probably impossible. At the same time it is
a characteristic of myth and folk-tale that no matter how greatly
cultural surroundings alter them they tend to keep the basic elements
of which they were originally compounded. We all know that matters
of fact as they pass from one individual to another become greatly
distorted. Strangely enough, this is not the case with myth and
folk-tale. The reason is hard to discover, but the fact is certain.
The writer has observed among children a prompt indignation at the
'mis-telling' of a traditional tale. Once the terms of a story become
fixed he will be bold who will attempt to alter them when recounting
them to children or savages. In short, where the circumstances of a
story are well authenticated a barrier exists against the tendency,
shown in gossip, to adorn the original plot, to add or subtract from
it. This appears to be due to a strong conservative instinct in the
childish and savage mind.

"To generalize," said Blake, "is to be an idiot," but to generalize is
one of the functions of science. In a general sense, then, the more
simple and archaic the characteristics of a myth, and the more it
reflects an early state of society, the greater the antiquity it is
naturally likely to possess. The more 'literary,' the more embellished
it is by the graces of art, and the more cunning it displays in the
business of story-telling, the later it will be. Many myths have, of
course, been built up by slow degrees only, the myth of Osiris being
an admirable example. It grew with the importance of the god himself,
who perhaps from a mere local spirit came to be the great deity of the

Proof of the authenticity of myth--that is, the proof by which it
is known as the genuine aboriginal product of a primitive folk--is
obtained by what Tylor has called "the test of recurrence." That is, if
we discover a tale possessing the same elements in several different
parts of the world "we cannot set down the coincidence to chance or
fraud." This is practically a 'law,' and is one of the most valuable
conclusions which has as yet enriched mythological science.

An outline--and merely an outline--of the principal questions with
which students of myth are at present chiefly concerned has now been
furnished. These, as has been said, will be amplified in succeeding
chapters, the purpose of this introduction having been served if the
reader is enabled by its perusal to follow intelligently the subsequent
examination, on a more extensive scale, of the subjects indicated.

[1] In order that the beginner in mythic science may be enabled to
comprehend its scope with some degree of precision, the writer has
framed definitions as closely approaching accuracy as the present state
of knowledge and research will permit, and has obtained the advice and
assistance of most of the leading authorities. The method adopted was
as follows. A table of definitions was placed before each authority,
and he was invited to comment upon it. Such comments and criticisms
on certain portions of the definitions either displaced the original
material or were incorporated with it, first of all being reduced to a
brevity suitable to explanatory phraseology. The result was the above
list of definitions.

In the _Handbook of Folklore_, Appendix A, a number of definitions
bearing upon mythology are provided, drawn up at a conference
representing the editors of the _Handbook_ and others. Several of them
bear the sign of over-caution. For example, we read on p. 300; "Myth, a
story told to account for something." Although sufficiently wide, the
phrase is sadly lacking in definiteness, and might equally apply to an
effort of mendacity!

[2] "Definitions and rules are needed. No student can attack so immense
a subject without the aid of such necessary machinery, and it is
because the attempt has been so often made ill-equipped in this respect
that the science of folklore has suffered so much and has remained so
long unrecognized." (Gomme, _Folklore as an Historical Science_, p.
127.) Some high authorities with whom the writer communicated appear
to consider the formulation of definitions as a 'waste of time'! This
attitude in the case of the leaders of any other science would surely
be considered as retrograde.

[3] In truth, 'folklore' is a most unfortunate denomination, as the
science it designates has greatly outgrown the name. Neither 'folklore'
nor 'mythology' is capable of defining the study of the religion,
fiction, usages, laws, and general mental equipment of savages and
primitive people. By far the best term is 'tradition,' and the one
barrier to its use seems to be its simplicity.

[4] _Religion of the Semites_ pp. 18 sqq.

[5] Gomme, quoting and following Robertson Smith, believes that
"mythology was no essential part of ancient religion, for it had no
sacred sanction and no binding force on the worshippers." Why then
the insistence by most priesthoods on the absorption of myths by
their neophytes? Why their 'renovation' of myths? Myths were early
efforts at a reconciliation of the tales of gods with the religious
sentiment; ritual, as Gomme admits, was merely the outward expression
of tradition. On p. 141 of the same work (_Folklore as an Historical
Science_) he speaks of "those who believe in the truth of the myth,"
of its "sacred character," of "traditions which have become sacred."
On p. 149 he speaks of myth as "revered," and told in "the hushed
sanctity of a great wonder." Yet he believes that it had "no binding
force"! On p. 150 he writes of the preservation of primitive myth "for
_religious_ purposes." Robertson Smith's reasoning was, of course,
based on pure theory and upon limited as opposed to universal examples
of the connexion of myth with religion, of which it is an integral
part. The wonder is that this circumstance was not patently visible to
the distinguished folklorist who comments upon and accepts his dictum.

[6] _The Golden Bough_(2nd ed.), vol. i, p. 63.

[7] My own 'minimum' definition of religion is, "The result of man's
attitude to the unknown."

[8] Dr Marett, in a letter to the author dated November 30, 1914,
states that he "thinks it a mistake to state by way of definition
that myths are ætiological" (explanatory), on the ground that
explanation is not a fundamental of myth and that a theory is thereby
involved. Says Gomme: "Every tradition ... myth or story contains two
perfectly independent elements--the fact upon which it is founded and
the interpretation of the fact which its founders have attempted."
(_Folklore as an Historical Science_, p. 10.)

[9] As regards the relation of myth to history, Gomme has happily said
that myth "must not be identified with history. This claim is based
upon two facts, the presence of myth in the shape of the folk-tale
[which he believes to be a late form of myth] and the preservation of
much mythic tradition beyond the stage of thought to which it properly
belongs by becoming attached to an historical event or series of
events, or to an historical personage, and in this way carrying on
its life into historic periods and among historic peoples. The first
position has resulted in a wholesale appropriation of the folk-tale
to the cause of the mythologists; the second position has hitherto
resulted either in a disastrous appropriation of the entire tradition
to mythology or in a still more disastrous rejection both of the
tradition and the historical event round which it clusters." (_Folklore
as an Historical Science_, p. 128.)

[10] "The myth is not dependent upon the text in which it appears
for the first time. That text as we have it was not written down by
contemporary or nearly contemporary authority. Before it had become a
written document it had lived long as oral tradition." (Gomme, _op.
cit_., p. 125.)

[11] When myth is 'renovated,' cleansed, cast into literary form, or in
any way subjected to alteration, it is known as 'secondary' myth--that
is, it exists in a secondary state.

[12] "In this class of tradition we are in touch with the struggles of
the earliest ancestors of man to learn about the unknown." (Gomme, _op.
cit.,_ p. 130.)

[13] "All the knowledge they possess is that based upon their own
material senses, and therefore when they apply that knowledge to
subjects outside their own personality they deal with them in terms of
their own personality." (Gomme, _op. cit.,_ p. 132.)

[14] Some modern writers believe animism to be a relatively late
manifestation in the religious history of mankind. It seems to me
to occur spontaneously wherever and whenever the mind of man is
discovered in a condition sufficiently primitive to receive it, and
as it is the original mental characteristic of all children, whether
savage or civilized, I fail to recognize its significance as a later
demonstration of human thought.

[15] Lang, _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_ (4th ed.), vol. i, p. 295.

[16] See remarks on totemism, p. 28.

[17] Gill, _Myths and Songs from the South Pacific_, p. 60.

[18] "Primitive science was also primitive belief." (Gomme, _op.
cit.,_ p. 140.) Again (p. 132): "Where savages ask themselves, as they
certainly do ask themselves, whence the sky, whence the winds, the sun,
moon, stars, sea, rivers, mountains, and other natural objects, they
reply in terms of good logic applied to deficient knowledge." Again (p.
130): "Our own research in the realms of the unknown we dignify by the
name and glories of science. The research of our remote ancestors was
of like kind.... It was primitive science."

[19] Tylor, _Primitive Culture_, vol. i, p. 369.

[20] Animism has been defined by Dr Tylor as "the doctrine of spiritual
beings, including human souls"; but the term is often extended to
include _animatism_, "the doctrine that the great part if not the whole
of the inanimate kingdom as well as all animated beings are endowed
with reason, intelligence, and volition, identical with that of man."

[21] "We have no opportunity of observing historically man's
development from blank unbelief into even the minimum or most
rudimentary form of belief. We can only theorise and make more or less
plausible conjectures as to the first rudiments of human faith in God
and in spiritual beings. We find no race whose mind as to faith is a
_tabula rasa_." (Lang, _The Making of Religion_, p. 53.)

[22] Tylor supposes animism to have arisen from "two groups of
biological problems present to the mind of early man:

"(1) What is it makes the difference between a living body and a dead
one, what causes waking, sleep, trance, disease, and death?

"(2) What are those human shapes which appear in dreams and visions?"
(_Primitive Culture_, vol. i, p. 428.)

[23] See p. 19.

[24] The term 'fetishism' has been objected to upon the ground that "it
has been used in so many different and contradictory senses that it
is very likely to be misunderstood.... Even the word _fetish_ should
only be used in its historic sense, to describe a limited class of
magical objects in West Africa." (_Handbook of Folklore,_ p. 298.) This
objection is scarcely a practical one, and to eliminate a word which
has rendered excellent service to anthropology and has been adopted
by students in all parts of the world to designate a definite class
of religious objects and the especial description of the cult which
clusters round them savours of pedantic caprice, while no equivalent is
tendered for the word it is proposed to abolish.

[25] The _jinn_ inhabiting Aladdin's lamp and ring appear to have been
fetishistic spirits of this type.

[26] Well-known instances of assault upon gods are: the overthrow of
the discredited Russian god, Peroun, by his disillusioned worshippers;
the profanation of Balder's grove by Frithjof (_Frithjof Saga_); the
destruction of the idols of the Mexican gods, Uitzilopochtli and
Tlaloc, by the Spanish conquerors. Other instances could be cited,
nearly all acts of insanity, rashness, or hostility, rarely of

[27] See Gomme, _Ethnology in Folklore_, for several notable instances
of stone-worship of this description.

[28] The author has shown that Uitzilopochtli was originally the agave
plant, and that the humming-bird, which nests therein, was regarded as
the spirit animating that plant (see _Discovery_ for June 1920).

[29] As will be shown farther on, the author believes that the majority
of mythic plots possess an animistic basis.

[30] The school originated by Professor Elliot Smith has much to
recommend it; but its hypotheses need further elucidation, a greater
amount of evidence to buttress them, and--it is spoken in all
friendliness--it lacks a spirit of tolerant and serious consideration
for the views of its opponents; all of which it will gain in good time.

[31] Channing Arnold in article "Australia," _Ency. Brit._, (11th ed.)

[32] It would be very unjust to Professor Elliot Smith and his school,
however, if it were not stated that they possess many good arguments
against this, for which see the publications issued by the University
of Manchester.



Many are the hypotheses and systems advanced to account for the origin
and existence of myth. It will greatly assist our comprehension of
these and our ability to discern those most worthy of consideration if
we examine them chronologically as well as critically. If we begin our
review with the gropings of the first far-off thinkers who attempted
an analysis of myth, and put to themselves the question "What is myth,
its origin and its meaning?" and advance through the centuries until
we encounter present-day theories, then we should be well equipped to
pursue our course without fear of the pitfalls encountered by early
writers on tradition, or, let us hope, of falling into the grave errors
inevitable when mythological data were less plentiful than at the
present time.

It must be clearly understood that this sketch does not deal with
the _makers_ or restorers of myth, but with the views and notions of
critics who have sought to discover its nature and meaning. Again, we
would remind the reader that we are not dealing with religious science,
but with such mythological notions as have come down to us from early
times to the present.[1]

The first critic of myth was Xenophanes of Colophon (_fl._ 540-500
B.C.), an Ionian exile in Sicily, afterward living at Elea, in
Southern Italy. He supported himself by travelling from place to
place and reciting his own poems. The important part of his writings
for us is that in which he attacks the polytheism prevalent in his
day. Xenophanes did not accept the mythical idea of man-like deities
then current. "There is one God, greatest among gods and men," he
writes, "neither in shape nor in thought like unto mortals ... yet men
imagine gods to be born and to have raiment and voice and body, like
themselves.... Even so oxen, lions, and horses, if they had hands to
grave images, would fashion gods after their own shapes and make them
bodies like to their own." Again he says: "The rainbow, which men call
Iris,[2] is a cloud." Xenophanes appears by his writings to have taken
up the position of a theologian protesting not against polytheism,
but against the idea that the gods possessed human appearance and
attributes. Besides the one great god he seems to have recognized a
plurality of minor divinities who govern portions of the universe. He
stigmatized anthropomorphic myths as "the fables of men of old."

Theagenes of Rhegium was the founder of a very popular system of
mythology. He pleaded for an allegorical rather than a literal reading
of myth. For example, as we have already mentioned, he considered the
battle of the gods 'unbecoming,' and attempted to show that in reality
it was an allegorical rendering of the war of the elements. According
to his view, Hephæstus and Apollo personified fire; Hera, wife of Zeus,
was air; Poseidon, the sea-god, represented water; Artemis was the
moon, and so on. Other gods, he attempted to show by an examination of
their names, were personifications of moral or intellectual qualities.

Pherecydes of Syros (_fl_. sixth century B.C.) wrote a treatise, in
which myth, allegory, and science were blended, on nature and the gods.
He contended that the elements of fire, air, and water sprang from
Cronus, the principle of time, and that from these elements later gods
emerged. Zeus is called the 'principle of life,' so that we have in
Pherecydes' interpretation of myth a pseudo-scientific idea that time
was the originator of the elements, from which in turn the gods had
their being--a very daring hypothesis for the sixth century B.C.!

Hecatæus of Miletus (_c_. 550-476 B.C.) was probably the first critic
to distinguish myth from historic fact Socrates (_c_. 471-399 B.C.)
attempted to show that the nature of divine beings could be discovered
by an analysis of their names. Prodicus (born _c_. 465 B.C.) is
noteworthy for the 'modern' character of his outlook. First of all,
he says, arose such great powers as benefit mankind (for example, the
Nile), then deified men, who rendered services to humanity.

Pherecydes of Leros (_fl. c_. 454 B.C.) modified the myths of Greece
in order to adjust them to popular belief, so that it is scarcely
correct to class him as a critic of myth. Ephorus (_c_. 400-330 B.C.)
treated myths as historical episodes. "By straining after this fancied
history he was prevented from searching into the genuine import of the


The system of Euhemerus (fourth century B.C.), who lived under King
Cassander of Macedonia, deserves more than passing mention. Like
Ephorus, he considered that myth is history in disguise. The gods
were men, and mists of time and later phantasy had so magnified and
distorted their figures as to make them appear divine. In short, they
were great men deified by later generations. The dead are magnified
into gods in many countries, so Euhemerus' theory possesses a good
deal of truth, but every god was not once a man, nor have all gods
been evolved from the worship of the dead. The truth is that the
myths of many gods have passed through a phase and have been coloured
by an environment in which ancestor-worship has prevailed. Graves
of gods are shown in many lands, and probably portions of legends
relating to real men have been attracted into the myths of certain
gods. Euhemerus' system of interpretation is known as 'euhemerism,'
and was adopted by Vossius, the Abbé Banier, Huet Bishop of Avranches,
Clavier, Sainte-Croix, Rochette, Hoffman, and to some extent by Herbert
Spencer. Ennius popularized his system in ancient Rome. Leclerc, one
of Euhemerus' later disciples, actually proposed the theory that Greek
mythology consisted of the diaries of old merchantmen and seamen!

Some Stoics and Platonists, such as Plutarch, endeavoured to render
myths more intelligible by explaining them 'pragmatically,' and this
system too saw in the gods of Greece kings or merely men. Another
system, the 'Psychic,' believed myth to be explanatory of the various
stages through which the soul must pass. Other Stoics, again, saw
in myths reference to natural phenomena. Thus the first school, the
'Pragmatic,' would see in the figure of Pallas Athene a transfigured
mortal queen; the second, the 'Psychic,' would explain her as the
'understanding,' and the third, the 'Stoic,' as the thicker air between
moon and earth.

Driven to the wall by Christianity, the remaining believers in
Greek myth attempted to justify it by the allegorical system of
interpretation. The early Christian fathers like St Augustine (A.D.
354-430) applauded the system of Euhemerus, in which they beheld the
abhorred mythology abandoned by one himself a pagan. Porphyry (A.D.
233-304), however, considered that there might be a moral meaning
in myth, and others thought it possible that it concealed a germ of
religious truth.


The Middle Ages produced no criticism of myth worthy of attention.
Popular belief in medieval times regarded the gods and goddesses of
antiquity as of diabolic origin, or at least as 'pagans' who had been
relegated to Hell on the advent of Christianity. This view was, of
course, sedulously supported by the priesthood, as may be seen in the
medieval legend of Tannhäuser. Prior to the Renaissance period, with
its revival of classical studies, the gods of Greece and Rome were
frequently confused or identified with other pagan deities and even
with religious leaders like Mohammed, as, for instance, in the phrase
'Mahound and Termagent,' which alludes to the pairing of Mohammed and
Tyr, or Tyr Magus, a Scandinavian divinity. In _The King of Tars_, an
English romance, probably of the fourteenth century, we read how the
Sultan of Damascus destroyed his idols, "with sterne strokes and with
grete, on Jovyn and Plotoun, on Astrot and sire Jovyn." Here Roman and
Semitic deities are mingled in "hideous ruin," like the wicked angels
of Milton, whose poem, by the way, encouraged a later belief that the
Arch-fiend and his associates were no other than the gods of the elder
faiths, Beelzebub, Belial, and, among others,

Osiris, Isis, Orus and their train.

An old Scots piece, entitled _Sir John Rowll's Cursings_ dating perhaps
from the last quarter of the fifteenth century, and in all probability
written by a priest of Corstorphine, near Edinburgh, contains several
interesting allusions which show the condition of mythological
knowledge at that day. It is directed against certain persons who have
rifled the priest's poultry-yard. Sir John is powerful in anathema, and
his thunders must have caused trepidation among the more superstitious
of his parishioners, but the only lines of his rhymed 'Billingsgate'
apposite here are those containing the names of demons, because these
show us how the mythic characters of antiquity were regarded in his
time. He says that the pilferers of his hen-roosts will be hanged and
given to the fiend, and continues:

     ... and Cerberus thair banis sall knaw
    For thair dispyt of the Kirkis law,
    Gog and Magog and grym Garog,
    The Devill of hell the theif Harog,
    Sym Skynar and St Garnega,
    Julius appostata,
    Prince Pluto and quene Cokatrice,
    Devetinus the devill that maid the dyce,
    Cokadame and Semiamis,
    Fyremouth and Tutivillus,
    And Browny als that can play kow[4]
    Behind the claith wt mony mow.[5]
    All this about the beir salbe[6]
    Singand ane dolorous dergie.

Let us try to identify some of these figures. We may pass over
Cerberus, and Gog Magog, who has by this date evidently resolved
himself into two separate individuals. In Harog we probably see that
'Old Harry' who is so frequently apostrophized, perhaps a variant
of the Norse god Odin. In Sym Skynar we may have Skrymir, the Norse
giant in whose glove Thor found shelter from an earthquake, and who
sadly fooled him and his companions. Skrymir was, of course, one of
the Jötunn, or Norse Titans, and probably one of the powers of winter;
and he may have received the popular name of 'Sym' in the same manner
as we speak of 'Jack' Frost. Julius the Apostate, Pluto, and the
Cokatrice are easily identified. Semiamis is, of course, Semiramis,
and it was quite possible that the Babylonian queen bulked in the
popular imagination as an Eastern goddess, fit companion for Mahound or


The study of myth can hardly be considered scientific in our modern
sense until nearly the end of the eighteenth century. During the
seventeenth century and the early portion of the eighteenth works were
published from time to time which professed to give an outline of the
myths of Greece and Rome, but in these the critical spirit was almost
entirely absent. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) leaned to the allegorical
interpretation of myth. Thus, Narcissus was self-love, Dionysus
passion, and the Sphinx science. Natalis Comes (_d_. 1582) saw in myth
allegories of natural and moral philosophy. The first writer to strike
upon the true line of interpretation was De Brosses (1709-1777), who in
1760 published a work, _Du culte des dieux fétiches, ou parallèle de
l'ancienne religion de l'Égypte avec la religion actuelle de Nigritie_.
De Brosses showed that animal-worship in ancient Egypt was a survival
of practices such as existed among modern savages. Lafitau (in 1724)
also pointed out the savage element surviving in Greek myth, for which
he found many parallels in his experience as a Jesuit missionary among
the Indians of North America. But all writers on myth were not so
rational as these. Thus the Abbé Banier in his _La mythologie et les
fables expliquées par l'histoire_ (Paris, 1738) traced (as the title of
the book indicates) all myths to an historical basis.

Bryant (1715-1804) in 1774 published _A New System, or an Analysis of
Ancient Mythology_, in which he traced all mythologies to Biblical
sources. Thomas Taylor (1758-1835) in his translation of Pausanias
regarded all myth as allegory.

Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854) was the first to see a connexion
between the formation of myth and national development. Without
possessing the orderly and logical mind so necessary to the student
of tradition, he was able to seize spasmodically upon truths or facts
which strongly buttressed his theory. Creuzer in his _Symbolik und
Mythologie_ (Leipzig, 1810-1812) laid stress on the religious character
of myth. According to his view, myth is of the nature of religious
teaching, proceeding from an original revelation, and carefully handed
down in symbolic form by priestly schools. This secret wisdom passed
from the Orient to Greece and became the kernel of all myths, which
therefore contain the wisdom of antiquity in an allegorical form. To
unriddle this is the task of the mythologist, who can only succeed in
doing so by intuition. The mythologist is, like the poet, born not
made, according to Creuzer.

Although the symbolic method is nowadays as dead as the dodo, and in
any case could only apply to very late myths which were the work of
poets or philosophers, it still holds good that the elucidation of
myth is not a matter of pure mental induction, but that it frequently
results from intuition; and who can doubt, with the brilliant examples
of Lang, Gomme, Marett, Saussaye, Hubert and Mauss, Reinach, Rendel
Harris, and Elliot Smith before them, the proud assertion that great
students of tradition _are_ "born not made"?

With K.O. Müller's (1797-1840) _Prolegomena zu einer wissenschäftlicher
Mythologie_ (1825; Eng. trans, by Leitch, 1844) the truly scientific
treatment of myth begins. He saw clearly that the true laws underlying
the confusion of mythic science as he found it were not to be
approached by one but by many ways. The explanation of a myth, he said,
must be the explanation of its origin. A knowledge of the popular life
of antiquity he regarded as indispensable, and he drew a distinction
between the actual, original myth and the myth as sophisticated by
poets and philosophers. Mythic materials, he argued, must be resolved
into their original elements. His dicta are landmarks, almost laws--if
the term 'law' may be applied to a science where at present all is
rather nebulous.


The comparative study of language did much to reawaken both interest
and industry in the study of myth, and the philological method of
explaining mythic phenomena arose. This system has been called
'comparative mythology.' The appellation is scarcely correct from a
scientific standpoint, as, strictly speaking, the term 'comparative
mythology' implies the comparison of the details of one myth with those
of another, in an attempt to prove the universality of the nature of
myth, or by 'the test of recurrence' to show that widely distributed
myths are related, and that fragments found only in one 'fit' the
other. This comparative mythology implied the comparison of mythic
names in various Indo-European languages with a view to showing that
what was dark and seemingly inexplicable in one language might be made
clear by comparison with the known mythic appellations in another

The leader of this school, the history of which is important for the
proper comprehension of the evolution of mythic science, was Professor
Max Müller[8] (1823-1900), who, coming from Germany to Oxford at
the age of twenty-three to undertake the translation of the ancient
religious books of India on behalf of the East India Company, rapidly
made a position for himself in English scientific circles by his sound
scholarship, indefatigable energy, and wide general culture. The deep
study of comparative philology led him to apply its results to myth.
He regarded language as a necessary condition of thought, not its
arbitrary expression, and considered that words, therefore, contain the
key to thoughts. If language is determined by thought, thought is also
determined by language. Mythology, according to Müller, is properly a
form of thought so essentially determined by language that it may be
described as 'a disease of language.' Its origin must be looked for
in a stage of human development in which intuition or instinct almost
predominates, while abstract thought is unknown. Thus mythical terms
precede mythical thought, and the peculiarities of language which lead
to the formation of myth are the gender of words, polyonymy (numerous
meanings attached to one word), synonymy (the possession of similar
meanings by two or more words), poetical metaphor, and so forth. But
the entire Müllerian conception of mythic science must not be taken
as being contained only in the expression that myth is a 'disease of
language.' Myth, according to Müller, is to be comprehended principally
through language, but not through language only. By reference to
language many but not _all_ mythic phenomena may be understood. Just as
certain rash disciples of Darwin did much to stultify their leader's
evolutionary theory by their applications of it, in the same manner
some of Müller's followers so distorted and exaggerated his views on
myth as to hamper him greatly.

Müller was not the first to apply the methods of comparative philology
to myth, but he was by far the most distinguished exponent of the
system. Before him G. Herman and others attempted to explain myths by
etymology, but they restricted their efforts to the Greek language
only. It was not until the researches of Franz Bopp[9] (1791-1867) and
others laid the foundations of the science of comparative philology
that the way was clear for the study of myth on a linguistic basis.
These studies succeeded in establishing the relationship of the
'Indo-Germanic' languages, and, working with these proven facts behind
him, Müller boldly applied them to mythic phenomena. For example, he
brought forward a comparative formula of the name of Zeus or Jupiter
which he stated thus:

    Diaush-Pitar = Zeus Pater = Jupiter = Tyr.

Thus, according to him, the name Diaush-Pitar in Sanskrit was
equivalent to Zeus Pater in Greek, Jupiter in Latin, and Tyr in old
Teutonic.[10] This etymological result is sufficiently scientific in
character for acceptance by even a severe critic of the system. But
scarcely had Müller's method acquired vogue--and its recognition was
of the widest--than a small army of critics arose whose determined
opposition had to be reckoned with. Many of their objections, it is now
clear, were due to misunderstandings. Wherever they lit upon a paradox
or were enabled to confuse the issue by any ambiguity or slackness in
Müller's phraseology, they too often took more than a full advantage
of the chance to score. Indeed, so unsparing was the criticism to
which his conclusions were subjected, and so great was his irritation
thereat, that at length he accused certain of his adversaries of an
attempt to traduce his moral character by charging him with mendacity.


But if his critics were unfair, they had legitimate grounds for a
certain opposition to his system. Many of his propositions, as well as
those of his followers, were doubtful; the method was often pushed to
extremes which just escaped being ludicrous; and the somewhat ponderous
erudition behind it seemed only to heighten the absurdity of some of
its conclusions, although the charm and usual clarity of Müller's
literary style were not to be denied. The combat waxed fierce, and
both sides brought up all their forces. Linguistic science, it was
said, is an uncertain medium for determining the substance and nature
of thought. The linguistic and etymological methods had been discarded
by philosophy, only to make an unwelcome reappearance in mythology.
The original meaning of a word is often totally at variance with its
later use. Again, similar mythic conceptions are found with totally
different names, and divergent ones with the same names. These were
serious objections, but they do not destroy the strictly verifiable
conclusions of the philological school. At present the school is in
the deepest discredit; indeed, it may be said to possess scarcely a
single follower; but that its methods are applicable to certain classes
of mythic phenomena no mythologist of experience would deny.


Examples which illustrate the Müllerian interpretation or
misinterpretation of myth are his treatment of the tale of Cephalus,
Aurora (Eos), and Procris. Cephalus was the sun, the son of Herse,
the dew; therefore he represented the sun rising over dewy fields.
Eos, as the word implies, is the dawn. Procris comes from a Sanskrit
root _park_, meaning to sprinkle, and is also the dew; therefore it
is the equivalent of Herse, the meaning of which may be found in a
Sanskrit root _vrish_, 'to sprinkle.' The myth is then interpreted:
Cephalus loves Procris--that is, the sun kisses the morning dew; Eos
loves Cephalus--that is, the dawn loves the sun. Procris is faithless,
but her new lover turns out to be the sun in another guise--that is,
the dewdrops reflect the sun in manifold colours. Procris is slain
by Cephalus--that is, the dew is absorbed by the sun. Thus natural
phenomena lurk behind the names of gods and heroes.

The philological school had its internal divisions also. Its arbitrary
interpretations made for schism, and there was considerable diversity
of opinion regarding myths and mythic personages. Two sub-schools
arose, the solar and the meteorological. The first, headed by Müller
himself, "saw sun-gods everywhere," in myth, folklore, and legend.
Perhaps its most zealous disciple was the Rev. Sir George William Cox
(1827-1902), author of _The Mythology of the Aryan Nations_ (1870) and
_An Introduction to Mythology and Folklore_ (1881), two works of great
erudition and charm, powerfully advocating the universality of the
sun myth and based upon a truly scientific investigation of a large
number of myths and tales. Cox did not insist upon the philological
interpretation of myths so much as on their solar character, and he is
"fully aware of the dangers involved in attempts to explain Teutonic,
or Greek, or Latin, or Scandinavian myths solely from Aryan sources."
He also admits the existence of nature myths other than solar, but to
his mind most of those which are not solar are stellar or nebular.

The founders of the meteorological school saw in all myths the
phenomena of the thunder and lightning. Dragons and similar monsters
guard treasures and fair maidens in a celestial stronghold till the
arrival of the hero-god, who slays the monsters and rescues the maiden.
Thus, said they, the dark and threatening thunder-clouds imprison the
light of heaven until the coming of the god, who dissipates them. The
chief supporters of this theory were Kuhn (1812-1881) and Darmesteter
(1849-1894). Laestrin too attempted to interpret myths from nebular
phenomena which he had observed on the Alps.[11]

Few perfectly certain results were achieved by the philological
school. Of convincing certainty at the first blush, a more searching
examination reveals difficulties, and shows that the theories do not
fit the myth with any degree of exactitude; but philology has rendered
and will render real service to mythology, and this young mythologists
would do well to bear in mind.[12]


But the final blow to the pretensions of the philological method as a
'universal solvent' of mythic problems was dealt by the anthropological
school of mythologists. This school accounts for the "wild and
senseless" element in myth by replying that such "wild and senseless"
conceptions can occur only in a savage and primitive state of society,
and that therefore when such elements are found in the myths of
civilized and cultured peoples they must necessarily be a legacy from
a savage past--survivals of savage belief. But ere we proceed further
in our investigation of the work of the anthropological school, let
us see by what arguments it finally divested the philologists of all
authority in the sphere of mythology.

It held, then, that Max Müller's system was a result of the discovery
of the basic unity of the Aryan languages, and was founded on an
analysis of these languages, but it showed that precisely similar myths
exist among Eskimos, Red Indians, South Sea Islanders, Maoris, Bushmen,
and other savage races. "The facts being identical, an identical
explanation should be sought; and as the languages in which the myths
exist are essentially different, an explanation founded upon the Aryan
language is likely to prove too narrow."[13] Again, although we may
discover the original meaning of a god's name, it does not assist us
to understand the myths connected with him, for a striking figure in
myth collects around it many age-old stories and mythic incidents which
have originally no connexion whatsoever with it, just as barnacles are
collected by a vessel in harbour. "Therefore, though we may ascertain
that Zeus means 'sky,' and Agni 'fire,' we cannot assert with Max
Müller that all the myths about Agni and Zeus were originally told of
fire and sky. When these gods became popular they would inevitably
inherit any current exploits of earlier heroes or gods."[14] So that
if these were credited to them it would be erroneously. Names derived
from natural phenomena too, such as sky, clouds, dawn, and sun, are
habitually assigned by savage peoples to living persons. Thus a tale
told of a real man or woman bearing one of these names might easily
become mingled or confused with myths about the real sky, cloud,
sun, dawn, etc. For such reasons the philological analysis of names
is bound to be uncertain in its results. Moreover, when primitive or
savage people think of natural phenomena and celestial bodies, they
have no such ideas in their minds concerning them as have civilized
people. They usually think of them as human beings with like passions
to themselves--in fact, in an 'animistic' way. Müller held that it was
gender-terminations that led later ages to the belief that natural
phenomena possessed personalities, whereas the anthropological school
retorted that _au contraire_ "gender-terminations were survivals from
an early stage of thought in which personal characteristics, including
sex, had been attributed to all phenomena." This stage of thought is
to be observed among savages and young children, who habitually regard
inanimate objects as alive.


The defection of Mannhardt, who had long been a pillar of the
philological school, was a further blow to its failing prestige. In a
work published shortly before his death (_Antike Wald- und Feldkulte_,
1877) he explains the growth of his views, and states that "the assured
gains" of the philological school "shrink into very few divine names
such as Dyaus = Zeus = Tuis; Parjany = Perkunas; Bhaga = Bug; Varuna =
Uranus, etc." Many of the other equations of divine names he regards as
mere _jeux d'esprit_. "To the principle of Max Müller," he says, "I can
only assign a very limited value, if any value at all" (_op. cit_., p.
20). And again: "Taken all in all, I consider the greater part of the
results hitherto obtained in the field of Indo-Germanic comparative
mythology to be, as yet, a failure, premature or incomplete, my own
efforts in _German Myths_ (1858) included." In an essay on Demeter
published somewhat later he further insisted upon the weakness of the
philological method. Moreover, he disapproved of finding celestial
phenomena in myths of terrestrial happenings. To this standpoint he was
brought by his own experience of how easy (and fatal) it is to become
the victim of a 'mythological habit'--that is, the interpretation of
myths by one method and by that alone. Writing to his friend Müllenhoff
in 1876, he said that he had become uneasy "at the extent which sun
myths threaten to assume in my comparisons." Mannhardt was a wise man
and an honest one. He saw clearly that there is no universal solvent
for myth, no single philosopher's stone by which it may be made to
yield its secrets, no royal road to its elucidation.

At the same time he adhered to the truth that "a portion of
the older myths arose from nature poetry which is no longer
directly intelligible to us, but has to be interpreted by means of
analogies.... Of these nature myths, some have reference to the life
and circumstances of the sun." As Lang has said of him:[15] "Like
every sensible person, he knew that there are numerous real, obvious,
confessed solar myths _not_ derived from a disease of language. These
arise from (1) the impulse to account for the doings of the sun by
telling a story about him as if he were a person; (2) from the natural
poetry of the human mind. What we think they are _not_ shown to arise
from is forgetfulness of meanings of old words, which, _ex hypothesi,_
have become proper names." And again: "It is a popular delusion that
the anthropological mythologists deny the existence of solar myths, or
of nature myths in general. These are extremely common. What we demur
to is the explanation of divine and heroic myths at large as solar
or elemental, when the original sense has been lost by the ancient
narrators, and when the elemental explanation rests on conjectural
and conflicting etymologies and interpretations of old proper
names--Athene, Hera, Artemis, and the rest."

Mannhardt's method was more that of the folklorist than the
philologist. He closely examined peasant custom and rite in the hope
of discovering survivals of paganism. Indeed, his work may be said to
be the foundation upon which Sir James George Frazer (whose work will
be fully reviewed later) built his imposing edifices of research, _The
Golden Bough_ and other works.


The anthropological creed might, broadly, be stated as follows, with,
of course, small divergences caused by internal division:

(1) The savage and irrational element in 'civilized' myth is composed
of primitive survivals in more civilized times.

(2) The comparison of civilized with savage myth--that is, of later
with earlier myth--frequently throws light upon the character of the

(3) The comparison of similar myths among widely divergent peoples
frequently illuminates their primitive character and meaning.

Broadly speaking, too, the anthropological school accepts such views
as have been laid down in the introductory chapter concerning animism,
fetishism, and totemism; and when we come to deal with authorities who
diverge in any way from these views we shall show how they differ.


Sir E. B. Tylor, the virtual founder of the anthropological school,
in his _Researches into the Early History of Mankind_ (1865) and
_Primitive Culture_ (1871), first laid down the anthropological
position with clearness and accuracy.

In a statement which appeared in his epoch-making work, _Primitive
Culture_, Tylor briefly reviews the conceptions of the early
commentators regarding myth, and shows how necessary breadth of
knowledge and handling is for mythological work. The scientific
interpretation of myth is strengthened and assisted by the comparison
of examples. There are groups of myths, and the greater the number
which can be grouped together, the more evidence is provided for the
formation of a true science of mythology. Few and simple are the
principles which underlie a solid system of interpretation. "The
treatment of similar myths from different regions, by arranging them
in large compared groups, makes it possible to trace in mythology
the operation of imaginative processes recurring with the evident
regularity of mental law; and thus stories of which a single instance
would have been a mere isolated curiosity take their place among
well-marked and consistent structures of the human mind. Evidence like
this will again and again drive us to admit that even as 'truth is
stranger than fiction,' so myth may be more uniform than history."[16]

The work is limited to the consideration of well-authenticated mythic
ideas of almost universal occurrence. "The general thesis maintained is
that myth arose in the savage condition prevalent in remote ages among
the whole human race, that it remains comparatively unchanged among
the modern rude tribes who have departed least from these primitive
conditions, while even higher and later grades of civilisation, partly
by retaining its actual principles, and partly by carrying on its
inherited results in the form of ancestral tradition, have continued it
not merely in toleration but in honour."[17]


The evolutionary character of myth necessitates that its study should
be commenced among races of low culture. "If savage races, as the
nearest modern representatives of primeval culture, show in the most
distinct and unchanged state the rudimentary mythic conceptions
thence to be traced onward in the course of civilisation, then it is
reasonable for students to begin, so far as may be, at the beginning.
Savage mythology may be taken as a basis, and then the myths of more
civilised races may be displayed as compositions sprung from like
origin, though more advanced in art. This mode of treatment proves
satisfactory through almost all the branches of the enquiry, and
eminently so in investigating those most beautiful of poetic fictions
to which may be given the title of Nature Myths."[18]

The nature of personalism in myth is debated, as is the share of
language in its formation, and here it will be seen that Tylor has not
the extreme hostility of certain of his followers to the Müllerian
doctrine. He says: "Language, no doubt, has had a great share in the
formation of myth. The mere fact of its individualising in words such
notions as winter and summer, cold and heat, war and peace, vice and
virtue, gives the myth-maker the means of imagining these thoughts
as personal beings. Language not only acts in thorough unison with
the imagination whose product it expresses, but it goes on producing
of itself, and thus, by the side of the mythic conceptions in which
language has followed imagination, we have others in which language
has led, and imagination has followed in the track. These two actions
coincide too closely for their effects to be thoroughly separated,
but they should be distinguished as far as possible. For myself, I
am disposed to think (differing here in some measure from Professor
Max Müller's view of the subject) that the mythology of the lower
races rests especially on a basis of real and sensible analogy, and
that the great expansion of verbal metaphor into myth belongs to more
advanced periods of civilisation. In a word, I take material myth to
be the primary, and verbal myth to be the secondary, formation. But
whether this opinion be historically sound or not, the difference
in nature between myth founded on fact and myth founded on word is
sufficiently manifest. The want of reality in verbal metaphor cannot
be effectually hidden by the utmost stretch of imagination. In spite
of this essential weakness, however, the habit of realising everything
that words can describe is one which has grown and flourished in the
world. Descriptive names become personal, the notion of personality
stretches to take in even the most abstract notions to which a name
may be applied, and realised name, epithet, and metaphor pass into
interminable mythic growths by the process which Max Müller has so
aptly characterised as 'a disease of language.' It would be difficult
indeed to define the exact thought lying at the root of every mythic
conception, but in easy cases the course of formation can be quite well

The student of myth must possess the ability to transport himself into
the imaginative atmosphere of the untutored mind. The inspection of
'nature mythology' helps to show that much myth is related to natural
phenomena. "In interpreting heroic legend as based on nature-myth,"
says Tylor, "circumstantial analogy must be very cautiously appealed
to, and at any rate, there is need of evidence more cogent than
vague likenesses between human and cosmic life. Now such evidence is
forthcoming at its strongest in a crowd of myths, whose open meaning
it would be wanton incredulity to doubt, so little do they disguise,
in name or sense, the familiar aspects of nature which they figure as
scenes of personal life. Even where the tellers of legend may have
altered or forgotten its earlier mythic meaning, there are often
sufficient grounds for an attempt to restore it. In spite of change
and corruption, myths are slow to lose all consciousness of their
first origin."[20] And "the etymology of names, moreover, is at once
the guide and safeguard of the mythologist [p. 321]. There was no
disputing the obvious fact that Helios (Sol) was the sun, and Selene
the moon." He examines groups of myths "produced from that craving to
know causes and reasons which ever besets mankind" (p. 392). Allegory
is then treated of. It "cannot maintain the large place often claimed
for it [p. 408], yet it cannot be passed over by the mythologist. A
number of fanciful myths are of the nature of allegory, as that of
Pandora in Hesiod, or Herakles choosing between the paths of pleasure
and virtue." In concluding his chapters on myth, Tylor remarks in a
passage of profound insight: "The investigation of these intricate and
devious operations has brought ever more and more broadly into view
two principles of mythologie science. The first is that legend, when
classified on a sufficient scale, displays a regularity of development
which the notion of motiveless fancy quite fails to account for, and
which must be attributed to laws of formation whereby every story, old
and new, has arisen from its definite origin and sufficient cause. So
uniform indeed is such development that it becomes possible to treat
myth as an organic product of mankind at large, in which individual,
national, and even racial distinctions stand subordinate to universal
qualities of the human mind. The second principle concerns the relation
of myth to history. It is true that the search for mutilated and
mystified traditions of real events, which formed so main a part of
old mythological researches, seems to grow more hopeless the further
the study of legend extends.... Yet unconsciously, and as it were in
spite of themselves, the shapers and transmitters of poetic legend have
preserved for us masses of sound historical evidence."[21]


The widely accepted theory of animism which has already been described
(p. 22) was promulgated by Tylor in this work. Man, he thinks, first
attained to the idea of spirit by reflection on various experiences
such as sleep, dreams, trances, shadows, hallucinations, breath, and
death, and by degrees extended the conception of soul or ghost until
he peopled all nature with spirits. From among these spirits one is
finally supreme, if the process of evolution is continued. This theory
discounts the early connexion between religion and ethics, and Tylor
believed that primitive man had no notion of religion or ethics.


John Ferguson McLennan (1827-1881), author of _Primitive Marriage_
(1865) and _Studies in Ancient History_ (1876), threw much light upon
the origin and rise of the family and, incidentally, of totemism.
Although he treats the subject from a sociological point of view, his
work is of great value to students of myth because of its illustrations
of totemism. His principal writings on totemism first appeared in the
_Fortnightly Review_ of 1869-1870.


Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) explained his system of mythology in
_Principles of Sociology_. The mental condition of man when he animates
and personifies all phenomena is accounted for by degeneration, as
in Spencer's view it is not primary but the result of misconception.
Language is only one cause of this misconception: statements which had
originally a different significance are, he thinks, misinterpreted, as
are names of human beings, so that primitive races are gradually led
to a belief in personalized phenomena. The defect in early speech, the
"lack of words free from implication of vitality," is one of the causes
which favour personalization. But in making this statement he appears
to overlook the circumstance that such words as "imply vitality" do
so because they reflect the thought of the men who use them before
misconception can arise through their prolonged use. In any case, the
misconstructions of language which he believes to have brought about
the idea of personality are in his system "different in kind" from
those of the philological school, "and the erroneous course of thought
is opposite in direction." He believes the names of human beings in
early society to be derived from incidents of the moment, the period
of the day, or the condition of the weather. In certain tribes we
discover persons named Dawn, Dark Cloud, Sun, etc. Spencer thinks that
if a story exists concerning people so named, in process of time it
will be transferred to the object or event, which will thereby become
personalized. It is clear, however, that few such stories could be
apposite, and that their occurrence would be rare.

Traditions of persons coming from the neighbourhood of some mountain
or river may grow into belief in actual birth from it. For example,
should tradition state that a man's parents came "from the rising
sun," he will believe himself a descendant of the luminary, which thus
becomes personalized. Holding as he does that ancestor-worship is the
first form of religion, and that persons with such names as Sun, Wind,
or Cloud may be thus worshipped, Spencer believed that nature myths
are a kind of worship of ancestors. Implicit belief in the statements
of forefathers is a further cause of personalizing. He explains the
idea of descent from beast ancestors by the ancestor of the stock or
tribe possessing an animal name, such as Wolf, Tiger, and so forth,
and being confounded by his descendants with a real wolf or tiger.
Spencer never saw that ancestral memory in savages is extremely short
and rarely survives more than three generations. Nor is the savage at
a loss to understand the custom of bestowing animal or nature names
upon persons. He calls his own child Dawn or Wolf, and therefore he
is not tempted to believe that his ancestor was really a tiger or the
dawn. The animal descent almost invariably comes through the female
line, and the mother's totem-kin name is adopted, yet savages do not
worship their ancestresses. The theory, as Lang has said, requires "as
a necessary condition a singular amount of memory on the one hand and
of forgetfulness on the other."


One of the first and most remarkable upholders of the anthropological
school was William Robertson Smith (1846-1894) a professor of Hebrew
in the Free Church College, Aberdeen. The heterodox character of an
encyclopædia article on the Bible led to his prosecution for heresy,
of which charge, however, he was acquitted. But a further article upon
"Hebrew Language and Literature" in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_
(1880) led to his removal from the professoriate of the college.
In 1881 he assisted Professor Baynes in editing the _Encyclopædia
Britannica_, and in 1887 succeeded him as editor-in-chief. He was
appointed Lord Almoner's Professor of Arabic at Cambridge in 1883, and
Adams Professor of Arabic in 1889.

Robertson Smith's most remarkable work--that to which every modern
student of comparative religion owes so much--is his celebrated
_Religion of the Semites_, originally delivered as a series of lectures
at Aberdeen in the three years from October 1888 to October 1891.

It is of course only this author's views on mythology that we have here
to take into account.

Robertson Smith points out that in all ancient religious systems
mythology takes the place of dogma. The sacred lore of a race assumes
the form of stories about the gods, and these tales offer the sole
explanation of religious precept and ritual act, but as myth had
no sacred sanction and no binding force on the worshippers, it was
not an essential part of religion. Myths "connected with individual
sanctuaries and ceremonies were merely part of the apparatus of the
worship; they served to excite the fancy and sustain the interest of
the worshipper; but he was often offered a choice of several accounts
of the same thing, and, provided that he fulfilled the ritual with
accuracy, no one cared what he believed about its origin. Belief in
a certain series of myths was neither obligatory as a part of true
religion, nor was it supposed that, by believing, a man acquired
religious merit and conciliated the favour of the gods. What was
obligatory or meritorious was the exact performance of certain sacred
acts prescribed by religious tradition. This being so, it follows that
mythology ought not to take the prominent place that is too often
assigned to it in the scientific study of ancient faiths."

Robertson Smith thought that in almost every case the myth was derived
from the ritual, not the ritual from the myth. Ritual was fixed, and
myth was variable. The one was obligatory, the other at the discretion
of the worshipper. "Now by far the largest part of the myths of antique
religions is connected with the ritual of particular shrines, or with
the religious observances of particular tribes and districts. In all
such cases it is probable, in most cases it is certain, that the myth
is merely the explanation of a religious usage; and ordinarily it is
such an explanation as could not have arisen till the original sense
of the usage had more or less fallen into oblivion. As a rule the myth
is no explanation of the origin of the ritual to any one who does not
believe it to be a narrative of real occurrences, and the boldest
mythologist will not believe that. But if it be not true, the myth
itself requires to be explained, and every principle of philosophy and
common sense demands that the explanation be sought, not in arbitrary
allegorical theories, but in the actual facts of ritual or religious
custom to which the myth attaches. The conclusion is that in the study
of ancient religions we must begin, not with myth, but with ritual and
traditional usage."

Myths which do not merely explain traditional practices, but "exhibit
the beginnings of larger religious speculation," Robertson Smith also
regards as secondary in character. They may be primitive philosophy
or political attempts to unite religious groups, originally distinct,
or perhaps due to the play of epic imagination. In the later stages
of ancient religions mythology became increasingly important. "Myth
interpreted by the aid of allegory became the favourite means of
infusing a new significance into ancient forms. But the theories thus
developed are the falsest of false guides as to the original meaning
of the old religions. On the other hand, the ancient myths, taken in
their natural sense, without allegorical gloss, are plainly of great
importance as testimonies to the views of the nature of the gods that
were prevalent when they were formed."

In the third lecture or chapter the author propounds the theory of
animism in much the same terms as Tylor, and, speaking generally, the
remainder of the work is occupied with considerations regarding the
religious life of the Semitic peoples, their holy places, their ritual
and sacrifice.


Robertson Smith is undoubtedly correct in his statement that myth takes
the place of dogma in primitive religion--that "the sacred lore of
priests and people ... assumes the form of stories about the gods." But
having thus connected theobiography[22] with religion and the religious
spirit, it is difficult to discover why he denies a religious character
to myth. "These stories," he says (p. 17), "afford the only explanation
that is offered of the precepts of religion and the prescribed rules of
ritual." If that be the case, surely the group of myths which detail
the deeds of the chief deities is of prime importance to religion.
The 'story' of a religion is its most precious asset. It is from the
'story' of their faith that the majority of people receive their ideas
concerning it. What would Mohammedanism be without the story of the
Prophet? What Buddhism without the tale of Gautama? What Christianity
without the life of Christ? And if the argument applies to the higher
forms of religion, it may surely be applied, and more so, to primitive
faiths. Among savage or barbarous peoples the myth, the body of tales
which circles round the gods, is universal tribal property. It takes
the place of written scripture, it infuses all poetry and epic, it is
represented in sacred drama, it is recited by the neophytes for the
priesthood, it underlies the most sacred mysteries. The contention
that myth was "no essential part of ancient religion" is based upon a
fundamental misconception of the spoken or written story of the gods.
In the present writer's view myth is a most important element of
primitive religion; for whereas ritual often impresses an alien people
as magical and therefore inimical, and is not so readily borrowed,
the wide transmission of myth proves that it not only impresses the
imagination of the races among whom it has origin, but that it is able
to take hold of neighbouring and even distant peoples as well.

Akin to the first error is Robertson Smith's further fallacy that
ritual is prior in origin to myth in primitive religion. "It may be
affirmed with confidence," he says, "that the myth was derived from the
ritual, not the ritual from the myth." Therefore the savage sacrifices
with much involved ceremonial to something concerning which he knows
and has invented nothing!


That myth is sacred may be seen, if our conclusions are correct, in a
fact already employed to explain the fixed and unchangeable character
of the folk-tale. Children, it is observed, listening to a traditional
story do not approve of any alteration in its plot or circumstances. Is
this dislike--one might almost say horror--of alteration in folk-tale
a legacy of the religious dread of any attempt to tamper with the
tales of the gods? If so, such a sentiment would only be likely to
arise in an environment where the idea of the sacred had already made
considerable headway.

This argument does not claim an ethical character for myth, nor for
ritual or the other elements of religion, which did not originally know
of or possess any ethical spirit, but had to acquire it painfully. The
argument that belief in myth was not "obligatory as a part of true
religion" is futile. It was not obligatory because it was natural and
general. That one could not acquire religious merit by knowing it is
also untrue. Intimate acquaintance with the religious story is in many
civilized modern communities (Mohammedans, Hindus, British rural folk)
the measure of piety, and among savages and the peoples of antiquity
(Egyptians, Greeks, Australians, etc.) the religious story is the
nucleus of the most sacred mysteries of the faith.


Cornelius Petrus Tiele (1830-1902), a professor of the history of
religions at Leyden, although claimed as an ally by Max Müller, was
much more inclined toward fellowship with the anthropological school.
In his _Revue de l'Histoire des Religions_ (1876, trans. 1878, xii,
250) he says: "I am an ally, much more than an adversary, of the new
school, whether styled ethnological or anthropological. It is true that
all the ideas advanced by its partisans are not so new as they seem.
Some of us--I mean among those who, without being vassals of the old
school, were formed by it--had not only remarked already the defects
of the reigning method, but had perceived the direction in which
researches should be made; they had even begun to say so. This does
not prevent the young school from enjoying the great merit of having
first formulated with precision, and with the energy of conviction,
that which had hitherto been but imperfectly pointed out. If henceforth
mythological science marches with a firmer foot, and loses much of its
hypothetical character, it will in part owe this to the stimulus of the
new school."

Again he says (_op. cit_., p. 253): "If I were reduced to choose
between this method and that of comparative philology, I would prefer
the former without the slightest hesitation. This method alone
enables us to explain the fact, such a frequent cause of surprise,
that the Greeks, like the Germans, ... could attribute to their gods
all manner of cruel, cowardly, and dissolute actions. This method
alone reveals the cause of all the strange metamorphoses of gods into
animals, plants, and even stones.... In fact, this method teaches
us to recognize in all these oddities the survivals of an age of
barbarism long over-past, but lingering into later times, under the
form of religious legends, the most persistent of all traditions.
... This method, then, can alone help us to account for the genesis
of myths, because it devotes itself to studying them in their rudest
and most primitive shape." At the same time, Tiele thought that the
anthropological method "cannot answer all the questions which the
science of mythology must solve, or at least must study." He also
states that the anthropological school is "not entirely wrong" in
claiming him as an ally, and goes on to say: "But I must protest in the
name of mythological science, and of the exactness as necessary to her
as to any of the other sciences, against a method which only glides
over questions of the first importance and which to most questions can
only reply, with a smile, _C'est chercher raison où il n'y en a pas_."

Tiele also considered the anthropological school "too exclusive," and
thought that it might have ignorant camp-followers. In the latter fear
he was justified, as writers who saw totems and fetishes everywhere
were at that time rife; and there are not wanting popular writers of
the present day just as extravagant, who, while highly enthusiastic
over the achievements of the school, only dimly appreciate the
anthropological standpoint.


Perhaps the greatest binding force, and certainly the greatest
popularity, was given to the anthropological school by Andrew Lang
(1844-1913), whose works _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_ (1887), _Modern
Mythology_ (1897), and _The Making of Religion_ (1898), contain
originality, great dialectic ability, and keen insight. Waxing
autobiographical in the second work, Lang wrote concerning his own
position: "Like other inquiring under-graduates in the sixties, I read
such works on mythology as Mr Max Müller had then given to the world;
I read them with interest, but without conviction. The argument, the
logic, seemed to evade one; it was purely, with me, a question of
logic, for I was of course prepared to accept all of Mr Max Müller's
dicta on questions of etymologies. Even now I never venture to impugn
them, only, as I observe that other scholars very frequently differ,
_toto cœlo_, from him and from each other in essential questions,
I preserve a just balance of doubt; I wait till these gentlemen shall
be at one among themselves. After taking my degree in 1868, I had
leisure to read a good deal of mythology in the legends of all races,
and found my distrust of Mr Max Müller's reasoning increase upon me.
The main cause was that whereas Mr Max Müller explained Greek myths
by etymologies of words in the Aryan languages, chiefly Greek, Latin,
Slavonic, and Sanskrit, I kept finding myths very closely resembling
those of Greece among Red Indians, Kaffirs, Eskimo, Samoyeds,
Kamilaroi, Maoris, and Cahrocs. Now if Aryan myths arose from a
'disease' of Aryan languages, it certainly did seem an odd thing that
myths so similar to these abounded where non-Aryan languages alone
prevailed. Did a kind of linguistic measles affect all tongues alike,
from Sanskrit to Choctaw, and everywhere produce the same ugly scars
in religion and myth? The ugly scars were the problem! A civilised
fancy is not puzzled for a moment by a beautiful beneficent Sun-god, or
even by his beholding the daughters of men that they are fair. But a
civilised fancy _is_ puzzled when the beautiful Sun-god makes love in
the shape of a dog. To me, and indeed to Mr Max Müller, the ugly scars
were the problem."

Lang's first work on myth, _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, after briefly
reviewing the various systems of mythic interpretation prior to and
current in his time, lays stress upon the difference between religion
and myth, in which he sees two distinct human moods, the one sacred,
the other wholly frivolous in origin. This conflict is present in all
religions. The two moods, we are told (p. 5), are conspicuous even
in Christianity, in prayers, hymns, and "the dim religious light" of
cathedrals on the one hand, and on the other in the buffoonery of
miracle plays and the uncouth blasphemies of folk-tales. Backward
peoples too make a distinction between their religion and their
mythology. The 'wild' element of mythic story is then explained as a
survival from the savage state, the mental condition of savages is
described in its bearing upon primitive fiction, and its outstanding
types are outlined, as are some of the world's chief mythic
systems--all to illustrate the anthropological standpoint of the
author. Incidentally is developed the 'All-Father' theory, which will
be dealt with later.


In this work we have, perhaps, the most valuable statement of the
anthropological case extant, but in it Lang insists too much upon
a fundamental difference between myth and religion. He says (_loc.
cit_.): "For the present we can only say that the religious conception
uprises from the human intellect in one mood, that of earnest
contemplation and submission: while the mythical ideas uprise from
another mood, that of playful and erratic fancy." Absurd and unholy
stories of the gods are common, but all myths are not of this kind,
and many were and are employed as ritual by various peoples, who
recite them frequently as the histories of the gods they worship.
Again, Lang's contention that myth is not 'religious' would seem to
be defeated by his own just argument that myth containing 'wild'
elements dates from primitive times. He accounts for its 'wildness'
by its primitiveness; it was blasphemous because savage. But although
blasphemous to the civilized man, it may not be so to the uncultured
barbarian, and to him may be even religious. Elsewhere Lang cites
Australian myth to prove that one tale is told to "unimportant
persons," such as women and boys, another to the initiated.[23] The
first is of the nature of myth, the second religious in character.
We can discern a measure of truth in what he advocates, but a hard
and fast line cannot be drawn between myth and religion, as no one
can say where myth ends and religion begins. They overlap; and when
we read of the pranks of the Greek Zeus or the Chinook Blue Jay we
may say to ourselves: "Thus the gods figure in the imagination of the
savage, in whom the religious sense is faint. Once myth emerges from
the animistic, totemistic, and barbarous state it rises in character."
But--and this is important--there still cling to it the age-long tales
of the gods as savages, barbaric, bloodthirsty, absurd, in no way to be
cleansed or 'edited' or rendered 'decent,' They are regarded by men as
sacred because they are old.

The arguments against Lang's conception of myth as the ribald brother
of religion are as follows: (1) The majority of ancient myths are
not absurd, obscene, or blasphemous in essence, as is proved by
the circumstances of their invention. (2) Other myths which appear
blasphemous to the civilized mind do not necessarily seem so to the
savage mind. The strange sense of humour peculiar to savages is not
taken into consideration by Lang, nor that most of the absurdities and
obscenities arise from totemic sources _and are therefore necessarily
animal in their characteristics_, (3) The preservation and recital of
myths by priests proves their sacred character.[24]

Therefore, although a difference exists between myth and dogma, it
is one of degree only, not of kind. In all ages the ribald mind has
concocted scandalous stories concerning the gods, but most primitive
myth is not to be classed as 'ribald,' as a careful perusal of it will


Lang states his general thesis clearly on p. 8. He says: "Before going
further, it is desirable to set forth what our aim is, and to what
extent we are seeking an interpretation of mythology. It is not our
purpose to explain every detail of every ancient legend, either as a
distorted historical fact or as the result of this or that confusion of
thought caused by forgetfulness of the meanings of language, or in any
other way; nay, we must constantly protest against the excursions of
too venturesome ingenuity. Myth is so ancient, so complex, so full of
elements, that it is vain labour to seek a cause for every phenomenon.
We are chiefly occupied with the quest for an historical condition of
the human intellect to which the element in myths, regarded by us as
irrational, shall seem rational enough. If we can prove that such a
state of mind widely exists among men, and has existed, that state of
mind may be provisionally considered as the fount and _origin_ of the
myths which have always perplexed men in a reasonable modern mental

The irrational element in myth, to which we have already given some
consideration, is then discussed by Lang, and as our manner of dealing
with it is founded upon his, it is unnecessary to recapitulate his
arguments. It must be remarked, however, that he lays down (vol. i,
p. 22) the conclusion that "All interpretations of myth have been
formed in accordance with the ideas prevalent in the time of the
interpreters." He states that his theory naturally attaches itself
to the general system of evolution, and through it we are enabled
to examine myth as "a thing of gradual development and of slow and
manifold modifications." Thus we find that much of ancient myth is
a thing of great complexity, composed of the savage 'explanation,'
the civilized and poetic modification thereof, and the later popular
idea of the original tale. "A critical study of these three stages
in myth is in accordance with the recognised practice of science.
Indeed, the whole system is only an application to this particular
province, mythology, of the method by which the development either of
organisms or of human institutions is traced. As the anomalies and
apparently useless and accidental features in the human or in other
animal organisms may be explained as stunted or rudimentary survivals
of organs useful in a previous stage of life, so the anomalous and
irrational myths of civilised races may be explained as survivals of
stories which, in an earlier state of thought and knowledge, seemed
natural enough. The persistence of the myths is accounted for by the
well-known conservatism of the religious sentiment--a conservatism
noticed even by Eusebius."


The diffusion of identical myths, Lang argues, is due to the universal
prevalence of similar mental habits and ideas at one time or another,
but he admits that this argument may be pressed too far, and that it
will "scarcely account for the world-wide distribution of long and
intricate mythical _plots_." The diffusion of mythic fiction would, in
the judgment of the present writer, justify the opinion that in many
instances borrowing and transmission take place; but all cases should
be examined on their individual merits.

Lang proceeds to examine the mental condition of savages, in accordance
with the views in our introductory chapter, and with special reference
to totemism and magic. The animistic hypothesis is examined. His
chapters relating to cosmogony may be passed over as containing no very
original criticism. The author's 'All-Father' theory, as outlined in
our notice of his book _The Making of Religion_, is set forth, and the
remainder of that work is occupied with a description of the greater
mythological systems of the world, regarding some of which he was not
sufficiently well informed to speak with authority.[25]


In _Modern Mythology_(1897) Lang shows why the anthropological school
in England was obliged to challenge Professor Max Müller. After
pointing out the inconveniences of Müller's method in controversy,
the author proves that Tiele leans more in the direction of his
school than to that of Müller. He then reviews Mannhardt's position,
which he shows to be also anti-Müllerian. He touches upon Müller's
misunderstandings regarding totemism and reviews "the value of
anthropological evidence." He points out that the past of savages must
have been "a very long past," and insists upon the value of Tylor's
"test of undesigned coincidence in testimony" (the famous 'test of
recurrence') as a criterion of the value of myth. "The philological
method in anthropology" is discussed. Says Lang: "Given Dr Hahn's book
on Hottentot manners and religion: the anthropologist compares the
Hottentot rites, beliefs, social habits, and general ideas with those
of other races known to him, savage or civilised. A Hottentot custom,
which has a meaning among Hottentots, may exist where its meaning is
lost, among Greeks or other 'Aryans.' A story of a Hottentot god, quite
a natural sort of tale for a Hottentot to tell, may be told about a
god in Greece, where it is contrary to the Greek spirit. We infer that
the Greeks perhaps inherited it from savage ancestors, or borrowed it
from savages. This is the method, and if we can also get a scholar to
analyse the _names_ of Hottentot gods, we are all the luckier--that
is, if his processes and inferences are _logical._ May we not decide
on the _logic_ of scholars? But, just as Mr Max Müller points out
to us the dangers attending our evidence, we point out to him the
dangers attending his method. In Dr Hahn's book, the doctor analyses
the meaning of the names Tsuni-Goam and other names, discovers their
original sense, and from that sense explains the myths about Hottentot
divine beings. Here we anthropologists first ask Mr Max Müller, before
accepting Dr Hahn's etymologies, to listen to other scholars about the
perils and difficulties of the philological analysis of divine names
even in Aryan languages. I have already quoted his 'defender' Dr Tiele.
'The philological method is inadequate and misleading, when it is a
question of (1) discovering the origin of a myth, or (2) the physical
explanation of the oldest myths, or (3) of accounting for the rude and
obscene element in the divine legends of civilised races.' To the two
former purposes Dr Hahn applies the philological method in the case of
Tsuni-Goam. Other scholars agree with Dr Tiele. Mannhardt, as we said,
held that Mr Max Müller's favourite etymological 'equations' (Sarameya
= Hermeias; Saranyu = Demeter Erinnys; Kentauros = Gandharvas, and
others) would not stand criticism. 'The method in its practical working
shows a lack of the historical sense,' said Mannhardt. Curtius--a
scholar, as Mr Max Müller declares--says, 'It is especially difficult
to conjecture the meaning of proper names, and above all of local and
mythical names,' I do not see that it is easier when these names are
not Greek, but Hottentot, or Algonquin!"

Then follows a review of the contending methods of the philological
and anthropological schools in the explanation of various myths and
ritualistic customs, and the method of the latter school is clearly


The thesis of the first portion of Lang's _The Making of Religion_
(London, 1898) is that the abnormal phenomena believed in by savages
and later civilized peoples assisted them to evolve the idea of
godhead. Lang holds that "the savage beliefs, however erroneous,
however darkened by fraud and fancy, repose on a basis of real
observation of actual phenomena." With such a contention, however
ingenious, anthropology can scarcely concern itself, as our knowledge
of the supernatural is by no means sufficient to permit us to apply it
to anthropology.

The arguments put forward in the second part of the book are: (1)
"That the conception of a separable surviving soul of a dead man was
not only not essential to the savage's idea of his supreme god ... but
would have been wholly inconsistent with that conception." (2) That the
original idea of god among primitive peoples was not animistic and did
not evolve from the idea of the existence of spirit, but came first
in order of evolution and was that of a "magnified non-natural man"
(anthropomorphic and monotheistic). "He existed before death came into
the world and he still exists." Moreover, such cults contained ethical
and moral ideas not usually discovered in 'animistic' religions. Lang
illustrates this theory by examples taken from Australian, Fuegian,
Andamanese, Zulu, and other races of low culture.

As regards the first part of his contention, whatever may have been
the case with primitive man (concerning whose religious ideas we can
only theorize), it does not hold good of savages of the present day,
when animistic ideas are universally in the transition state. The
second argument is very much open to criticism, because the religious
ideas of the races alluded to by Lang as monotheistic may have been
modified by the theology of missionaries, Christian or Mohammedan.
This criticism Lang himself held not to be justified by facts, and
there are grounds for believing that his theory possesses a certain
amount of truth. Before, however, it can be discussed in its entirety,
the religious ideas of the peoples to which he alludes and those of
other races similarly environed will require to be much more fully
and rigorously examined and a much larger body of data collected.
If Lang's conclusions could be justified, they would revolutionize
the whole study of comparative religion. It would perhaps mean that
such gods as Yahweh in Israel and Tezcatlipoca in Mexico, instead of
being gradually evolved from lower spiritual forms, were survivals of
very early conceptions of non-spiritual forms of deity. But Lang's
data show that the early monotheistic, or the 'All-Father' idea, as
he calls it, disappears because of the adoption of animistic ideas.
Yahweh and Tezcatlipoca, we know, flourished side by side with and in
an atmosphere of animism. It would be strange if the Hebrews, a branch
of a race typically polytheistic (and therefore animistic), had not
at one time been given to a similar worship, and everything seems to
prove that they were originally polytheistic. If Yahweh was, as Lang
suggested, an original 'All-Father,' it is strange that Noldeke should
have been able to trace his name through the form _Shaddai_ to _Shedi_
('my demon') a name sufficiently animistic. This would appear to be a
test of Lang's theory, but the question, as he stated, "can only be
settled by specialists." He was right. He himself failed entirely to
realize the weight and abundance of the evidence for early polytheism
and animism among the Israelites. Again, when in Mexico we observe
the rise of Tezcatlipoca from the obsidian stone, we must repeat that
further special study alone can throw light on the question. Lang
called his examination of the subject "a 'sketch'--not an exhaustive
survey," but the thoughtful student of comparative religion will admit
that it is a sketch raising questions of the greatest import to the
science he explores.[26]


One of the greatest modern names in primitive religious science is that
of Sir James George Frazer, the world-famous author of _The Golden
Bough_. Founded to some extent upon the principles of Mannhardt, Sir
J.G. Frazer's mythological studies relate chiefly to vegetation and the
deities connected therewith. Indeed, it has been said that he has seen
gods of vegetation everywhere, just as the Müller school saw sun-gods

Perhaps the most acute criticism upon Sir J.G. Frazer's great work is
to be found in Lang's _Magic and Religion_, in the essay "The Ghastly
Priest." The first critical paragraph of this makes amusing reading:
"Still, the new school of mythology does work the vegetable element in
mythology hard; nearly as hard as the solar element used to be worked.
Aphrodite, as the female mate of Adonis, gets mixed up with plant life.
So does Attis with Cybele, so does Balder, so does Death, so does
Dionysus with undoubted propriety; so does Eabani, so does Gilgamesh,
so does Haman, so does Hera, so does Iasion with Demeter, so does Isis,
so does Jack-in-the-Green, so does Kupalo, so do Linus and Lityerses,
so does Mamurius Veturius, so does Merodach or Marduk (if he represents
Eabani or Gilgamesh), so does Mars, so does Osiris, so, I think, does
Semiramis, so does Tammuz, so does Virbius, so does Zeus, probably; so
does a great multitude of cattle, cats, horses, bulls, goats, cocks,
with plenty of other beasts. The solar mythologists did not spare
heroes like Achilles; they too were the sun. But the vegetable school,
the Covent Garden school of mythologists, mixes up real human beings
with vegetation."


Frazer's main contention is that the priest of the sanctuary of
Diana Nemorensis, near the modern Nemi, in Italy (a priest who was
invariably a murderer, and who only held office until another murderer
dispossessed and slew him, after plucking a bough from the tree
under which he sheltered), has numerous parallels in other, ancient
and modern, barbarian priesthoods. He says: "If we can show that a
barbarous custom, like that of the priesthood of Nemi, has existed
elsewhere; if we can detect the motives which led to its institution;
if we can prove that these motives have operated widely, perhaps
universally, in human society, producing in varied circumstances a
variety of institutions specifically different but generally alike;
if we can show, lastly, that these very motives, with some of their
derivative institutions, were actually at work in classical antiquity;
then we may fairly infer that at a remoter age the same motives gave
birth to the priesthood of Nemi. Such an inference, in default of
direct evidence as to how the priesthood did actually arise, can never
amount to demonstration. But it will be more or less probable according
to the degree of completeness with which it fulfils the conditions
indicated above. The object of this book is, by meeting these
conditions, to offer a fairly probable explanation of the priesthood of

According to Frazer, too, the priest of Nemi was of a class regarded
as divine. He says (vol. i, p. 231): "Thus the cult of the Arician
grove was essentially that of a tree-spirit or sylvan deity. But our
examination of European folk-custom demonstrated that a tree-spirit
is frequently represented by a living person, who is regarded as an
embodiment of the tree-spirit and possessed of its fertilising powers;
and our previous survey of primitive belief proved that this conception
of a god incarnate in a living man is common among rude races, Further,
we have seen that the living person who is believed to embody in
himself the tree-spirit is often called a king, in which respect,
again, he strictly represents the tree-spirit. For the sacred cedar
of the Gilgit tribes is called, as we have seen, 'the Dreadful King';
and the chief forest god of the Finns, by name Tapio, represented as
an old man with a brown beard, a high hat of fir-cones, and a coat of
tree-moss, was styled the Wood King, Lord of the Woodland, Golden King
of the Wood. May not then the King of the Wood in the Arician grove
have been, like the King of May, the Leaf King, the Grass King, and
the like, an incarnation of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation?
His title, his sacred office, and his residence in the grove all point
to this conclusion, which is confirmed by his relation to the Golden
Bough. For since the King of the Wood could only be assailed by him who
had plucked the Golden Bough, his life was safe from assault so long
as the bough, or the tree on which it grew, remained uninjured. In a
sense, therefore, his life was bound up with that of the tree; and thus
to some extent he stood to the tree in the same relation in which the
incorporate or immanent tree-spirit stands to it."


But Lang controverts these premises. He does not regard the priest of
the Arician grove as a likely representative of a god of vegetation.
"First," he says (I quote at length because of the importance of the
passage), "let us ask what we know about this ghastly priest. Let us
begin with the evidence of Virgil, in the Sixth Book of the _Æneid_
(line 136 and so onwards). Virgil says nothing about the ghastly
priest, or, in this place, about Diana, or the grove near Aricia.
Virgil, indeed, tells us much about a bough of a tree, a golden branch,
but as to the singular priest, nothing. But some four hundred years
after Virgil's date (say A.D. 370), a commentator on Virgil, Servius,
tried to illustrate the passage cited from the _Æneid_. He obviously
knows nothing about Virgil's mystic golden bough, but he tells us that,
in his own time, 'public opinion' (_publica opinio_) placed the habitat
of Virgil's bough in the grove haunted by the ghastly priest, near
Aricia. It is, in fact, not known whether Virgil invented his bough,
with its extraordinary attributes, or took it from his rich store of
antiquarian learning. It may have been a folklore belief, like _Le
Rameau d'Or_ of Madame d'Aulnoy's fairy-tale. Virgil's bough, as we
shall see, has one folklore attribute in common with a mystic sword in
the Arthurian cycle of romances, and in the _Volsunga Saga_. I think
that Mr Frazer has failed to comment on this point. If I might hazard a
guess as to Virgil's branch, it is that, of old, suppliants approached
gods or kings with boughs in their hands. He who would approach
Proserpine carried, in Virgil, a bough of pure gold, which only the
favoured and predestined suppliant could obtain, as shall be shown.

"In the four centuries between Virgil and Servius the meaning and
source of Virgil's branch of gold were forgotten. But people, and
Servius himself, knew of another bough, near Aricia, and located
(conjecturally?) Virgil's branch of gold in that district. Servius,
then, in his commentary on the _Æneid,_ after the manner of annotators
in all ages, talks much about the boughs of a certain tree in a certain
grove, concerning which Virgil makes no remark. Virgil, as we shall
see, was writing about a golden branch of very peculiar character.
Knowing, like the public opinion of his age, something about quite
other branches, and nothing about Virgil's branch, Servius tells us
that, in the grove of Diana at Aricia, there grew a tree from which
it was unlawful (_non licebat_) to break a bough. If any fugitive
slave, however, could break a branch from this tree, he might fight
the priest, taking his office if successful. In the opinion of Servius
the temple was founded by Orestes, to the barbaric Diana of the
Chersonese, whence he had fled after a homicide. _That_ Diana received
human sacrifices of all strangers who landed on her coasts. The rite of
human sacrifice was, in Italy, commuted, Servius thinks, for the duel
between the priest and the fugitive slave, Orestes having himself been
a fugitive. The process is, first a Greek wanderer on a barbarous coast
is in danger of being offered, as all outlanders were offered, to the
local goddess. This rite was a form of _xenelasia_, an anti-immigrant
statute. Compare China, the Transvaal, the agitation against pauper
immigrants. Having escaped being sacrificed, and having killed the
king in an unfriendly land, Orestes flies to Italy and appeases the
cruel Diana by erecting her fane at Aricia. But, instead of sacrificing
immigrants, he, or his successors, establishes a duel between the
priest and any other fugitive slave. Servius then, not observing this,
goes off into an allegorising interpretation of Virgil's branch, as
worthless as all such interpretations always are.

"The story about Orestes appears to myself to be a late 'ætiological
myth,' a story invented to explain the slaying of the slayer--which it
does not do; in short, it is an hypothesis. The priesthood is open not
to men flying the blood feud like Orestes, but only to runaway slaves.
The custom introduced by Orestes was the sacrifice of outlanders, not
of priests. The story has a _doublette_ in Pausanias. According to
Pausanias, Hippolytus was raised from the dead, and, in hatred of his
father, and being a fugitive, he went and reigned at the Arician grove
of the goddess.


"For these reasons, apparently, Statius calls the Arician grove
_profugis regibus aptum_, a sanctuary of exiled princes, Orestes and
Hippolytus. From Suetonius we learn that the ghastly priest was styled
_Rex Nemorensis_ King of the Wood, and that the envious Caligula,
thinking the priest had held office long enough, set another athlete to
kill him. The title of 'king,' borne by a priest, suggests, of course,
the sacrificial king at Rome. Also Mr Frazer adduces African kings of
fire and water, credited with miraculous powers over the elements.
They kill nobody and nobody kills them. Then we have Jack-in-the-Green
= May-tree = the Spirit of Vegetation--the May _King_ and the _Queen_
of the May. 'These titles,' as Mannhardt observes, 'imply that the
spirit incorporate in vegetation is a ruler, whose creative power
extends far and wide.' Possibly so. Now, the King of the Wood, the
ghastly priest, lived in the grove of Diana, who (among other things)
has the attributes of a tree-spirit. 'May not, then, the King of the
Wood, in the Arician grove, have been, like the King of the May ...
an incarnation of the tree-spirit, or spirit of vegetation?' Given a
female tree-spirit, we should rather expect a _Queen_ of the Wood; and
we assuredly do not expect a priest of Diana to represent the supreme
Aryan god, nay to incarnate him. But this Mr Frazer thinks probable.
Again, 'since the King of the Wood could only be assailed by him who
had plucked the Golden Bough, his life was safe from assault so long as
the bough, or the tree on which it grew, remained uninjured.'


"Here we remark the nimbleness of Mr Frazer's method. In vol. i, 4,
he had said: 'Tradition averred that the fatal branch' (in the grove
near Aricia) 'was that golden bough which, at the Sibyl's bidding,
Æneas plucked before he assayed the perilous journey to the world of
the dead.' But I have tried to show that, according to Servius, this
identification of two absolutely distinct boughs, neither similar nor
similarly situated, was the conjecture of 'public opinion' in an age
divided from Virgil's date by four hundred years.

"In the space between vol. i, 4, and i, 231, the averment of tradition,
as Mr Frazer calls it, the inference of the curious, as I suppose, to
the effect that Virgil's golden branch and the Arician branch were
identical, has become matter of fact for Mr Frazer. 'Since the King
of the Wood could only be assailed by him who had plucked the Golden
Bough,' he says; with what follows.

"But who has told us anything about the breaking, by a fugitive slave,
near Aricia, of a _golden_ bough? Nobody, as far as I am aware, has
mentioned the circumstance. After an interval of four hundred years,
the golden bough of Virgil is only brought by Servius into connection
with the wood at Aricia, because Servius, and the public opinion of
his age, knew about a branch there, and did not know anything about
Virgil's branch of gold.

"_That_ branch is a safe passport to Hades. It is sacred, not to a
tree-spirit named Diana, but to Infernal Juno, or Proserpine. It cannot
be broken by a fugitive slave, or anybody else; no, nor can it be cut
with edge of iron. None but he whom the Fates call can break it. It
yields at a touch of the predestined man, and another golden branch
grows instantly in its place.

        "Primo avolso non deficit alter
     ... Ipse volens facilisque sequetur,
     Si te fata vocant.

"Virgil's bough thus answers to the magical sword set in a stone in
the Arthurian legends, in a tree-trunk in the _Volsunga Saga_, as
Mr H.S.C. Everard reminds me. All the knights may tug vainly at the
sword, but you can draw it lightly, _si te fata vacant_, if you are the
predestined king, if you are Arthur or Sigmund. When Æneas bears _this_
bough, Charon recognises the old familiar passport. Other living men,
in the strength of this talisman, have already entered the land of the

                  "Ille admirans venerabile donum
     Fatalis virgæ, longo post tempore visum.

"I have collected all these extraordinary attributes of Virgil's bough
(in origin, a suppliant's bough, perhaps), because, as far as I notice,
Mr Frazer lays no stress on the many peculiarities which differentiate
Virgil's bough from any casual branch of the tree at Aricia, and
connect it with the mystic sword. The 'general reader' (who seldom
knows Latin) needs, I think, to be told precisely what Virgil's bough
was. Nothing can be more unlike a branch, any accessible branch, of
the Arician tree, than is Virgil's golden bough. It does not grow at
Aricia. It is golden. It is not connected with a tree-spirit, but is
dear to Proserpine. (I easily see, of course, that Proserpine may be
identified with a tree-spirit.) Virgil's branch is not to be plucked by
fugitive slaves. It is not a challenge, but a talismanic passport to
Hades, recognised by Charon, who has not seen a specimen for ever so
long. It is instantly succeeded, if plucked, by another branch of gold,
which the Arician twig is not. So I really do not understand how Mr
Frazer can identify Virgil's golden bough with an ordinary branch of a
tree at Aricia, which anybody could break, though only runaway slaves,
strongly built, had an interest in so doing."[27]


_The Golden Bough_ is an exhaustive repository of mythic and
anthropological fact. It has been criticized[28] as leaning too much
to the side of the 'stratification' theory--that is, the belief in the
existence of certain fixed religious conditions at different epochs of
man's experience and the labelling of these by such names as 'animism,'
'totemism,' and the like. At least,

      Thus says the _Quarterly,_ So savage and Tartarly.

      The present writer cannot subscribe to such criticism. It
      should be plain that in the earliest times the animistic
      and pre-animistic types of religious experience must
      have held single and undisputed sway among the whole of
      mankind. 'Totemism' and 'fetishism' are merely animism
      in another form, and in effect there are only two great
      types of primitive religious belief, the animistic and the
      polytheistic, the latter differing from the former merely
      because animism, or personalization of all phenomena,
      animal or vegetable, developed into anthropomorphism,
      which saw man's nature in the gods. It is admitted that
      the lesser stages of animism overlap each other in
      numerous instances, but one outstanding type gives shape
      to most systems of belief capable of classification,
      lesser types serving only to throw the one great one
      into relief. Thus Greek religion was unquestionably an
      anthropomorphic polytheism; the Mexican a polytheism
      with survivals of totemism and fetishism; and so on. But
      although the great central type permits us to give a
      broad classification to any religion, it is the lesser
      attributes which help us to pigeon-hole it properly.
      Thus we might class the majority of American religions
      as polytheisms newly emerged or emerging from animistic
      influences; but such a general definition would be
      imperfect because the combination of the bird-and-serpent
      myth has provided America with many outstanding divine
      forms in some measure different from gods evolved
      elsewhere. Monotheism is a religious condition so rare
      that it may be altogether discounted in classifying
      primitive religion. These conclusions hedge between the
      Frazerian view that religious experience is capable of
      more or less concrete classification, and the bewildering,
      chaotic opinion that classification should be entirely
      discountenanced in religious science. While we may
      hesitate to speak with Sir James Frazer of such hard and
      fast periods as an "age of magic" or an "age of religion,"
      we can subscribe to "anthropomorphism superimposed upon
      a previous theriomorphism or theriolatry," a description
      at which Sir James Frazer's reviewer cavils. He would
      doubtless tell us that many religious types coexisted in
      that age. Quite so; but were they as distinctive, as
      widespread, and as illustrative of prevailing conditions
      in such-and-such a region at such-and-such a period as the


Sir James Frazer is further accused of employing the universal
comparative method at the expense of the 'adjacent' method, the method
which studies the religion of a certain people in its own sphere. It
is often pretended nowadays that more merit accrues to the pursuit
of this form of anthropological science than to the comparative
method. We do not deny that a very considerable degree of training,
experience, and erudition is required to achieve success in it, but the
assumption that it in any way approaches in magnitude the task which
the comparative student proposes to himself is absurd. The greatest
mythological studies are comparative in character. True, many works on
particular mythologies are of outstanding excellence and charm; but
students of comparative religion still await a work dealing with an
isolated mythology of the calibre of _The Golden Bough_, mistaken as
are many of its premises, Payne's _New World called America_, or Lang's
_Myth, Ritual, and Religion,_ unless it be, perhaps, Robertson Smith's
_Religion of the Semites._

It is, further, scarcely criticism to label Sir James Frazer's great
work 'second-hand.' In works dealing with comparative mythology the
facts collated must of necessity be gleaned from the writings of
others. This cry is surely unsuitable to mythological debate!

The criticism that Sir James Frazer is unable to pursue to their
logical ends the problems he proposes to himself is better founded, as
is the charge of discursiveness. It is true, too, that he possesses
the faculty of seeing resemblances but not differences when dealing
with analogies, and that, consequently, he lumps too many diverse facts
together. Lastly he is tacitly charged with perversion of evidence![29]

His definition of magic will be dealt with elsewhere.

_The Golden Bough_ has served the passing and the present generations
of mythologists and folklorists well as a great compendium of mythic
and anthropological fact. From its far-flung influence none can escape.
It is a body of learning to which the searcher must return again and
yet again.


Edward John Payne, in his _History of the New World called America_,
a work of surprising erudition too little known, applied the
anthropological conception of myth to the mythologies of Mexico and
Peru, but although his reading on these subjects was wide and his
treatment marked by care and insight, he does not appear to have been
closely acquainted with the _pinturas_ or manuscript remains of the
Mexican peoples, a knowledge of which is essential to all students
of the subject. Instead of specializing upon any one department of
American aboriginal civilization, he took the whole of it for his
province and applied the anthropological method to all the conditions
of American life, social, linguistic, agricultural, and religious; and
he produced a work truly monumental in spirit, not surpassed by any
kindred effort of his generation, in spite of the defect mentioned


Salomon Reinach has done good service to the science of comparative
religion in France. After a distinguished archæological career he
interested himself in the study of religious science. In 1905 he began
his _Cultes, mythes, et religions_[30] and in 1909 he published a
general sketch of the history of religions under the title _Orpheus_.
In his preface to _Cultes, mythes, et religions_ M. Reinach makes
some lively and amusing remarks concerning the ignorance in France of
later developments of religious science. Speaking of new theories,
he says: "As a matter of fact, I do not exactly know who made the
discoveries. The names of Tylor, McLennan, Lang, Smith, Frazer, and
Jevons suggest themselves; but the one thing certain is that it was
not myself. Mine has been a lowlier part--to grasp the ideas of my
betters, and to diffuse them as widely as I might, first in my lectures
at the École du Louvre, then in the Académie des Inscriptions, and
again in many popular and scientific reviews. In France, when I began
my excursions into these fields, the whole subject was so absolutely
a sealed book that M. Charles Richet had to ask me to explain the
word _totemism_, before I dealt with that group of phenomena in the
_Revue Scientifique_. At the Académie des Inscriptions in 1900 the
only members who did not doubt my sanity when I read some lucubrations
on the Biblical taboos and the totemism of the Celts were MM. Maspero
and Hamy. The German scholars whom I saw about the same time, Mommsen
among the rest, had never heard of a totem.[31] The taboos and totems
of the Bible, a question underlying those alimentary interdictions
which ignorance regards as hygienic precepts, brought the Jewish
theologians into the lists. One of them dealt faithfully with me as
an anti-Semite, an epithet already hurled at me by my distinguished
friend Victor Bérard, because I had ventured to impugn, in the pages of
the _Mirage Oriental,_ the antiquity and omnipresence of Phœnician
commerce. To-day the voice of ignorance is a little less heard in the
land. Thanks to the diffusion of the English works which have inspired
me, thanks to the labours of the lamented Marillier and the editors
of the _Année Sociologique_--thanks perhaps, in some degree, to my
own missionary efforts, which, with the ardour of the neophyte, I have
carried into the very precincts of the popular universities--those
who once kicked most obstinately against the pricks now acknowledge
that the system of anthropological exegesis is 'the fashion,' and that
'something may be said for' totems and taboos."


Dr F. B. Jevons in his _Introduction to the History of Religion_ avows
himself a disciple of Lang so far as his views upon myth are concerned.
He too believes that the religious feeling in myth is conspicuously
absent, but that the consideration of myth cannot be excluded from
the history of religion. He says (p. 250): "Myths are not like psalms
or hymns, lyrical expressions of religious emotion; they are not like
creeds or dogmas, statements of things which must be believed: they
are narratives. They are not history, they are tales told about gods
and heroes, and they all have two characteristics: on the one hand,
they are to us obviously or demonstrably untrue and often irrational;
on the other hand, they were to their first audience so reasonable
as to appear truths which were self-evident." Some myths, he thinks,
"explain nothing and point no moral; they are tales told for the sake
of telling and repeated for the pleasure of hearing, like fairy-tales."
What, then, he asks, is the difference between myths that 'explain'
phenomena and those which obviously do not? He considers that totems
aroused curiosity and necessitated explanations, and that when the
beliefs were dead and forgotten the stories invented to account
for them would appear no longer as reasons or explanations, but as
statements of facts which occurred 'once upon a time.' These stories
were often appropriated to the wrong persons, and we have also yet to
learn why they were grouped together, a point Dr Jevons considers as
of first-rate importance, because "they would not have survived if
they had not been combined together. We cannot suppose that they were
first dissevered from the beliefs on which they originally depended for
their existence, and then were subsequently combined so as to obtain
a renewed existence, because they would probably have perished in
the interval. We must therefore suppose that they were combined into
tales ere yet the beliefs or institutions which gave them their first
lease of life had perished. This means that the various parts of one
institution, for instance, must have had each its separate explanation,
and that these explanations were combined into one whole, the unity
of which corresponded to the unity of the institution," (P. 254.)
These contentions are confirmed, Jevons thinks, by certain ceremonies
obviously representing the details of certain myths. "They afford
instances of myths which from the beginning were tales and not merely
single incidents; a single rite might consist of a series of acts, each
of which demanded its own explanation; and the unity of the rite might
produce a unity of interest and action in the resulting myth." (P.
254.) Stories designed to explain phenomena would provide a groundwork
for a rich embroidery of incidents. The person who could remember these
and could tell them effectively would not have to seek an audience,
and semi-consciously he might substitute for part of the story an
analogous incident.[32] "Tales with a permanent human interest would
easily spread beyond the limits of the original audience." Myth is not
religion; it is not the source of religion, it is "one of the spheres
of human activity in which religion may manifest itself, one of the
departments of human reason which religion may penetrate, suffuse, and
inspire." The religious consciousness rejected the repugnant elements
of myth, and perhaps the whole primitive hypothesis upon which myth
was based. "The result would be twofold: the imagination would be more
and more excluded from the region of speculation which produced the
ordinary myths of early peoples; and more and more restricted to the
path of religious meditation." (P. 266.) These are all conclusions
which we cannot admit. Myth is not any less religious in character
because associated with an early instead of a later form of religion,
or because it was discarded in later times! In an important passage Dr
Jevons declares with a great deal of truth that: "The extraordinary
notion that mythology is religion is the outcome of the erroneous and
misleading practice of reading modern ideas into ancient religions.
It is but one form of the fallacy that mythology was to the antique
religions what dogma is to the modern--with the superadded fallacy
that dogma is the source, instead of the expression, of religious
conviction. Mythology is primitive science, primitive philosophy, an
important constituent of primitive history, the source of primitive
poetry, but it is not primitive religion. It is not necessarily or
usually even religious. It is not the proper or even the ordinary
vehicle for the expression of the religious spirit." Where the
sensitiveness of the religious spirit "was great only those pieces of
primitive science survived which were capable of being informed" by it.


Jevons' conception of the nature of myth, however, does not take into
consideration that at least one class of myth--that which deals with
the gods--has probably more influence upon the popular acceptance and
spread of religious ideas of a primitive type than either dogma or
ritual. Those myths which furnish accounts of the deeds and adventures
of the gods are as much religion as are ritual or dogma. No religion
can exist without an explanation of a god or the gods, their nature,
their attitude toward men, and their divine environment; and such an
explanation was myth. Although savage and primitive, myths furnished
a suitable account of the gods to their primitive worshippers, whose
habits they almost certainly reflected.


Dr R. R. Marett, in an admirable and suggestive volume, _The Threshold
of Religion_ (1909), has, as we already know, distinguished between
animism and the forms which preceded it. Regarding mythology proper
and its "quality of religiousness," and speaking in connexion with
religious observances, he says: "Meanwhile, whatever view be taken of
the parts respectively played by animism, mythology, animatism, or
what not, in investing these observances with meaning and colour, my
main point is that the quality of religiousness attaches to them far
less in virtue of any one of these ideal constructions, than in virtue
of that basic feeling of awe which drives a man, ere he can think or
theorize upon it, into personal relations with the supernatural."

Regarding 'explanatory' myths, Dr Marett says (p. 149): "What the
learned know as 'ætiological myths' and juvenile readers of Mr Kipling
as 'Just So Stories' undoubtedly tend to arise in connection with
human institutions no less than in connection with the rest of the
more perplexing or amazing facts and circumstances of life. It is the
'nature of man' (as it is of the child, the father of the man) to ask
'Why?' and further to accept any answer as more satisfactory than none
at all. Again, it is sound method in dealing with myth as associated
with ritual at the stage of rudimentary religion to assume that for the
most part it is the ritual that generates the myth, and not the myth
the ritual."[33]


Professor A.B. Cook of Cambridge has collected a wealth of material to
prove the existence throughout the length and breadth of Europe of a
sky-god worshipped by both Celt and Teuton; but he elevates this cult
into something resembling a state mythology, and we have no record of
any such state religion. Early Celtic and Teutonic religions must have
been incipient only, and far from possessing any such organization and


Having concluded our review of the ideas and hypotheses of the great
mythologists proper, we will glance at what has been said by the
great students of folklore. Jakob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785-1863) along
with his brother Wilhelm Karl (1786-1859) published in 1816-1818
_Deutsche Sagen_, an analysis and criticism of the old German epic
traditions, and in 1812-1815 _Kinder- und Hausmärchen_. Their first
volume of the Eddaic songs of Iceland saw the light in 1815, and the
_Deutsche Mythologie_ in 1835. The last-named work traces the myths of
Germany from a period as remote as is permitted by the evidence down
to the time when they became merged in popular tradition. Folklore is
indebted to the Grimms, who originally discerned its importance, but
they did not in any way connect the stories themselves with custom
or superstition. They were inimical to the allegorical method and
decidedly trended toward the later position of Mannhardt and his school.


Few names are more distinguished in folklore than that of the late
Sir George Laurence Gomme. His standpoint on myth is to be found in
his able and liberal-minded treatise upon _Folklore as an Historical
Science_, on p. 101 of which he says: "They [the mythologists]
have entirely denied or ignored all history contained in the folk-tale,
and they have proceeded on the assumption, the bald assumption not
accompanied by any kind of proof, that the folk-tale contains nothing
but the remnants of a once prevalent system of mythology.... It is not,
however, upon the mistakes of other inquirers that the mythologists
may rest a good claim for their own view. The _Historia Britonum_ of
Geoffrey of Monmouth disposes of neither the myths nor the history of
the Celts. It shows myth in its secondary position, in the handling of
those who would make it all history, just as now there are scholars who
would make it all myth. In front of the legends attaching to persons
and places is the history of these persons and places. Behind these
legends lies the domain of the unattached and primitive folk-tale."

There should not be much doubt concerning which tales are of the nature
of myth and those which enshrine historic fact. Does the tale bear a
strong resemblance in more than one of its circumstances to any other
tradition or group of traditions? If so, it should be a comparatively
simple matter to judge to which group it belongs, although the student
requires to be constantly on his guard. The transition from fact or
surmise to myth, myth to pseudo-history, or from history to myth, and
then perhaps to history again; from legend to history, from history
to legend, or from folk-tale to history--these metamorphoses must
be searched for diligently. Our 'test of recurrence' is not always
sufficient, for occasionally myth will be seen to group with folklore
and legend and _vice versa._

On p. 125 of his admirable book Sir George says: "The traditional
narrative, the myth, the folk-tale, or the legend, is not dependent
upon the text in which it appears for the first time. That text as we
have it was not written down by contemporary or nearly contemporary
authority. Before it had become a written document it had lived long as
oral tradition. In some cases the written document is itself centuries
old, the record of some early chronicler or early writer who did not
make the record for tradition's sake. In other cases the written
document is quite modern, the record of a professed lover of tradition.
This unequal method of recording tradition is the main source of the
difficulty in the way of those who cannot accept tradition as a record
of fact. In all cases the test of its value and the interpretation of
its testimony are matters which need special study and examination
before the exact value of each tradition is capable of being
determined. The date when and the circumstances in which a tradition is
first reduced to literary form are important factors in the evidence
as to the credibility of the particular form in which the tradition is
preserved; but they are not all the factors, nor do they of themselves
afford better evidence when they are comparatively ancient than forms
of much later date and of circumstances far different. It cannot be
too often impressed upon the student of tradition that the tradition
itself affords the chief if not the only sure evidence of its age, its
origin, and its meaning; for the preservation of tradition is due to
such varied influences that the mere fact of preservation or the method
or particular date of preservation cannot be relied upon to give the
necessary authority for the authenticity of the tradition. Tradition
can never assume the position of written history, because it does not
owe its origin, but only its preservation, to writing."

Dealing with the relations of myth to history, Sir George says (p.
128): "Because mythic tradition has been found to include many
traditions which of late years have been claimed to belong to a
definitely historical race of people, it must not be identified with
history. This claim is based upon two facts, the presence of myth
in the shape of the folk-tale and the preservation of much mythic
tradition beyond the stage of thought to which it properly belongs by
becoming attached to an historical event or series of events, or to
an historical personage, and in this way carrying on its life into
historic periods and among historic peoples. The first position has
resulted in an appropriation of the folk-tale to the cause of the
mythologists; the second position has hitherto resulted either in a
disastrous appropriation of the entire tradition to mythology, or
in a still more disastrous rejection both of the tradition and the
historical event round which it clusters. Historians doubting the myth
doubt too the history; mythologists doubting the history reject the
myth from all consideration, and in this way much is lost to history
which properly belongs to it, and something is lost to myth."

Sir George subscribes to Robertson Smith's statement that "Mythology
was no essential part of ancient religion, for it had no sacred
sanction and no binding force on the worshippers." Yet on the next page
(p. 148) he says: "Myths constitute a part of the _serious life_ of the
people." He also speaks of myth (p. 149) as being told "in the hushed
sanctity of a great wonder," of primitive myth being "preserved in a
special manner and for _religious purposes"_ (p. 150), and (on the same
page) he alludes to its "sacredness." Yet it had "no sacred sanction
and no binding force "!


Mr Sidney Hartland in his _Science of Fairy Tales_ (1890) has applied
"the principles and methods which guide investigators into popular
traditions to a few of the most remarkable stories embodying the fairy
superstitions of the Celtic and Teutonic peoples." The unity of human
imagination is pleaded for. "Man's imagination," writes Mr Hartland,
"like every other known power, works by fixed laws, the existence and
operation of which it is possible to trace; and it works upon the same
material--the external universe, the mental and moral constitution of
man, and his social relations. Hence diverse as may seem at first sight
the results among the cultured Europeans and the debased Hottentots,
the philosophical Hindoos and the Red Indians of the Far West, they
present, on a close examination, features absolutely identical.... The
incidents [of story-plots] ... are not merely alike; they are often
indistinguishable." Further, the anthropological standpoint is upheld.
In _The Legend of Perseus_ (1894-1896) the author has attempted to show
"the dependence of the folk-tale upon custom and superstition, and to
determine the place of origin of one world-famous tale."


Dr Rendel Harris of Manchester has in several works propounded
mythological views of startling novelty, with a wealth of illustration
and argument which do credit alike to his scholarship and his
didactical skill. In his latest work, _The Ascent of Olympus_, which
it is incumbent upon all students of myth to study, he explains the
cults of Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite. In Dr Harris's view
the cults of these gods are respectively cults of the ivy, the apple,
the mugwort, and the mandrake, of which plants the deities in question
were personifications. Early Greek religion is thus evolved from the
witch-doctor's garden, and, _a fortiori_, Olympus itself is a later
development of the _hortus siccus_ of the medicine-man. I will not
attempt to advance any criticism of Dr Harris's thesis in this place,
as I freely confess that his iconoclastic conclusions stun me. He
triumphs in argument, and I live in fear and trembling that in his next
book he may prove that Hephæstus was evolved from a tenpenny nail, or
Poseidon from a lobster, As he is strong, let us beg him to be merciful
also, for if he further depreciates our old mythological stock, those
of us who are professional mythologists will be forced to dispose of it
and begin life over again as his apprentices.

As proof of his masterly presentment of the astounding conclusions he
has advanced, I quote the following summing-up from his _Ascent of
Olympus_ (p. 57):

"Let us refresh our memory as to the method we pursued and the results
which we obtained in the case of the cults of Dionysos and Apollo.
It will be remembered that we started from the sanctity of the oak
as the animistic repository of the thunder, and in that sense the
dwelling-place of Zeus; it was assumed that the oak was taboo and all
that belonged to it; that the woodpecker who nested in it or hammered
at its bark was none other than Zeus himself, and it may turn out
that Athena, who sprang from the head of the thunder-oak, was the owl
that lived in one of its hollows. Even the bees who lived underneath
its bark were almost divine animals, and had duties to perform to
Zeus himself. The question having been raised as to the sanctity of
the creepers upon the oak, it was easy to show that the ivy (with
the smilax and the vine) was a sacred plant, and that it was the
original cult-symbol of Dionysos, who thus appeared as a lesser Zeus
projected from the ivy, just as Zeus himself, in one point of view,
was a projection from the oak. Dionysos, whose thunder-birth could be
established by the well-known Greek tradition concerning Semele and
Zeus, was the ivy on the oak, and after that became an ivy fire-stick
in the ritual for the making of fire. From Dionysos to Apollo was the
next step: it was suggested in the first instance by the remarkable
confraternity of the two gods in question. They were shown to exchange
titles, to share sanctuaries, and to have remarkable cult-parallelisms,
such as the chewing of the sacred laurel by the Pythian priestess,
and the chewing of the sacred ivy by the Mænads: and since it was
discovered that the Delphic laurel was a surrogate for a previously
existing oak, it was natural to inquire whether in any way Apollo, as
well as Dionysos, was linked to the life of Zeus through the life of
the oak. The inquiry was very fruitful in results: the undoubted solar
elements in the Apolline cult were shown to be capable of explanation
by an identification of Apollo with the mistletoe, and it was found
that Apollo was actually worshipped at one centre in Rhodes as the
Mistletoe Apollo, just as Dionysos was worshipped as the Ivy Dionysos
at Acharnai. Further inquiry led to the conclusion that the sanctity of
the oak had been transferred by the mistletoe from the oak to the apple
tree, and that the cult betrayed a close connection between the god and
the apple-tree, as, for instance, in the bestowal of sacred apples from
the god's own garden upon the winners of the Pythian games. In this
way it came to be seen that Apollo was really the mistletoe upon the
apple-tree for the greater part of the development of the cult, just as
Dionysos was the ivy, not detached as some had imagined, but actually
upon the oak-tree. It was next discovered that the garden at Delphi
was a reproduction of another Apolline garden in the far north, among
the Hyperboreans, the garden to which Boreas had carried off Orithyia,
and to which (or to another adjacent garden) at a later date the sons
of Asklepios were transferred for the purpose of medical training....
Apollo came from the North as a medicine-man, a herbalist, and brought
his simples with him. His character of a god of healing was due, in the
first instance, to the fact that the mistletoe, which he represented,
was the All-heal of antiquity.... An attempt was then made to show that
the very name of Apollo was in its early form Apellon, a loan-word
from the North, disguising in the thinnest way his connection with the
apple-tree. The apple had come into Greece from the North, perhaps
from Teutonic peoples, just as it appears to have come into Western
Italy from either Teutons or Celts, giving its name in the one case to
the great god of healing, and in the other to the city of Abella in
Campania, through the Celtic word _Aball_."


Professor George Elliot Smith, of University College, London,
has brought to the problems of archæology a mental freshness and
originality of outlook that have placed him in the front rank of
the science in a surprisingly short space of time. He is the chief
supporter of the theory that by slow degrees the civilization of
ancient Egypt spread itself over the habitable globe, even to far
America. His sledge-hammer logic and array of excellent if rather
limited illustrations are capable of daunting the most doughty
opponent. In his recent book, _The Evolution of the Dragon_, he
probes as deeply into the basic mysteries of mythology as Dr Rendel
Harris, of whose work he says: "Our genial friend has been cultivating
his garden on the slopes of Olympus, and has been plucking the rich
fruits of his ripe scholarship and nimble wit. At the same time, with
rougher implements and cruder methods, I have been burrowing in the
depths of the earth, trying to recover information concerning the
habits and thoughts of mankind many centuries before Dionysus and
Apollo and Artemis and Aphrodite were dreamt of. In the course of
these subterranean gropings no one was more surprised than I was to
discover that I was getting entangled in the roots of the same plants
whose golden fruit Dr Rendel Harris was gathering from his Olympian
heights. But the contrast in our respective points of view was perhaps
responsible for the different appearance the growths assumed. To drop
the metaphor, while he was searching for the origins of the deities a
few centuries before the Christian era began, I was finding their more
or less larval forms flourishing more than twenty centuries before the
commencement of his story. For the gods and goddesses of his narrative
were only the thinly disguised representatives of much more ancient
deities decked out in the sumptuous habiliments of Greek culture."

_The Evolution of the Dragon_ contains three essays, "Incense and
Libations," "Dragons and Rain-gods," and "The Birth of Aphrodite," all
of which are of the first importance to students of mythic science,
as illustrating the possibility of tracing evolved divine figures to
their primitive forms. The first essay begins with Professor Smith's
well-known hypothesis that the reasons for the adoption of custom
are not "simple and obvious," and are not inspired by reason, but
by tradition. Man is not an inventive animal, and two independent
inventions of any custom, story, or article of utility are improbable.
The part played by the ancient Egyptians in the development of certain
arts and beliefs was a paramount one. The necessity for obtaining wood,
spices, and gums for the mummification of the dead forced them to make
long voyages; and consequently they became the missionary carriers of
the religious customs and ideas they had evolved at home, disseminating
these throughout the Mediterranean world. Professor Smith then traces
the early idea of godhead to the apotheosized ruler or king, whose
posthumous benevolence rendered the land fertile. He believes that
animism received its definite form in Egypt, where it was fostered by
the art of mummification, and spread thence broadcast. The development
of animism was enormously complex. It received its first great impetus
from an early Egyptian king who believed that he could restore the
breath of life to the dead by means of the magic wand. Then the burning
of incense before a body or statue was intended to convey to it the
warmth, the sweat, and the colours of life. Mummification, indeed,
"laid the foundation of the ideas which subsequently were built up
into a theory of the soul: in fact, it was intimately connected with
the birth of all those ideals and aspirations which are now included
in the conception of religious belief and ritual." The development
of animism, too, brought the supernatural idea of the properties and
functions of water, an idea which had previously sprung up in connexion
with agriculture, into a more definite form. It was a factor in the
development of the paraphernalia of the gods and of current popular
belief, of the temple and its ritual, and led to a definite formulation
of the conception of deities.

The second essay, "Dragons and Rain-gods," is the longest of the three.
The dragon legend, says Professor Smith, is the history of the search
for the elixir of life. "The original dragon was a beneficent creature,
the personification of water, and was identified with kings and gods."
"The dragon myth, however, did not really begin to develop until an
ageing king refused to be slain, and called upon the Great Mother as
the giver of life to rejuvenate him. Her only elixir was human blood;
and to obtain it she was compelled to make a human sacrifice. Her
murderous act led to her being compared and ultimately identified
with a man-slaying lioness or a cobra. The story of the slaying of
the dragon is a much-distorted rumour of this incident; and in the
process of elaboration the incidents were subjected to every kind of
interpretation, and also confusion with the legendary account of the
conflict between Horus and Set." Thus the Great Mother became confused
with Horus as the avenger of the god, and legendary complications
caused Horus to be regarded as her son. But the infamy of her deeds of
destruction seems to have led to her being further confused with the
rebellious followers of Set. "Thus an evil dragon emerged from this
blend of the attributes of the Great Mother and Set."

It seems to me that this theory is much too complicated and multiplies
difficulties, as will be seen if we ponder for a moment the history of
the Mother-goddess in Mexico. In Mexican myth the earth is represented
as a monster, Cipactli, the pictures of which suggest a crocodile, a
swordfish, or a dragon, probably a dragon, that great earth-monster
common to the mythologies of many races and most conveniently called
the 'earth-dragon,' The sign 'Cipactli' became the first in the
calendar, and with it are connected the creative deities and the
Earth-Mother or Great Mother. Circumstances exist which lend colour
to the idea that, as in other countries, the Mexican Mother was at
one time regarded as forming the earth, the soil. At the terrible and
picturesque festival of the Xalaquia ('She who is clothed with the
soil') a sacrificed virgin enriched and recruited with her blood the
frame of the worn-out goddess, who had been, says Seler, "merged in
the popular imagination with the all-nourisher, the all-begetter, the
earth." Perhaps the best evidence that the Earth-Mother was evolved
from the earth-dragon is the colossal stone figure which once towered
above the entrance to the temple of Uitzilopochtli in Mexico and is
now housed in the museum of that city. In this figure, as in a similar
though less massive statue from Tehuacan, the characteristics of
the Cipactli animal are reproduced in a wealth of scale, claw, and
tusk. The direct descent of the Great Mother from the earth-animal,
the personification of the earth-beast as a divine being, explains
her savage wantonness and spares us the necessity for the elaborate
genealogy with which Professor Elliot Smith so ably dowers her. He
cannot allege that Egypt had no earth-dragon, because Apep is alluded
to in the _Book of Overthrowing Apep_ as a crocodile and a serpent, and
that he was developed from the earth-beast seems fairly clear. He might
also say that the Mexican myth was a distorted echo of the Egyptian.
But the evolutionary process is too apparent in Mexican art to permit
of such an hypothesis.

The last paper, "The Birth of Aphrodite," traces that goddess, not to
the mandrake, as Dr Harris does, but to the cowrie-shell. The cowrie
was an amulet employed to increase the fertility of women, and in time
came to be personified in statuettes. Hence arose the idea of a Great
Mother, a giver of health, life, and good luck. "These beliefs," says
the Professor, "had taken shape long before any definite ideas had been
formulated as to the physiology of animal reproduction, and before
agriculture was practised." It is impossible to quote more from the
work of this most suggestive and stimulating of all modern writers on
mythology, and I can only here warn my readers against the unwisdom of
leaving his essays unread.

The great ability with which Professor Elliot Smith presents his
thesis is as obvious as the probability of most of his ideas, but it
seems to me that he regards them too much as proven facts, and that he
fails to recognize the insecurity of hypotheses based upon the present
inadequate data of early religious manifestations. These essays are
the outcome of a brilliant mind impatient of the lumbering slowness of
the mythological machine, and they show a kind of prophetic gift which
pierces beyond proof, and may be accepted as infallible, if uncanny,
or rejected as over-adventurous. For my part, I feel that Professor
Smith is right in by far the greater number of his beliefs, but I
can scarcely admit that he supplies me with sufficient proof. Rather
would I say that his book affects me as a work of genuine theoretical
inspiration and insight, and not as a cold catalogue of established
facts. Professor Smith is the Galileo of mythology--a science which
has brought forth many personalities of ponderous erudition, but few
geniuses. This does not mean that he is illogical, or that his papers
are not prepared with adequate and even meticulous care. It means that
he is looking out of a casement through which he alone has the right of
vision, and, seeing things so plainly as he does, he expects those who
do not possess similar gifts to participate in his clairvoyance. His
proofs, if few, are always apposite. The reviewer might wish that each
of the essays occupied three portly volumes instead of a demy octavo
book of 234 pages, and included a much larger number of confirmatory


The space allotted to this chapter would be greatly exceeded if we
alluded to the numerous collectors of myth who have enriched the
science with their labours. So far we have limited ourselves to the
work of the great theorists, and we will now recapitulate their ideas,
and draw therefrom our conclusions, accepting only what we believe to
be correct and 'safe,' and adding our own inferences and deductions.
Summarized, these ideas are as follows:

(1) The anthropological school showed that the identity between Aryan
and savage myth could not be explained upon a linguistic basis.

(2) Tylor laid stress upon the value of the comparison of myth and
the 'test of recurrence.' He did not entirely discount philological
evidence, but denied the large place claimed for allegory.

(3) He showed that myth displayed a regularity of development not to be
accounted for by motiveless fancy, but by laws of formation.

(4) The promulgation of the animistic hypothesis by Tylor is a landmark
in mythic science.

(5) Robertson Smith showed that myth takes the place of dogma in
primitive religions.

(6) Lang demonstrated the unsoundness of the 'disease of language'

He laid stress on the irrational element in myth;

Indicated the complexity of mythic development; Showed how the
evolutionary theory may be applied to myth;

Pointed out that the persistence of myth was accounted for by religious

Laid it down that the occurrence of identical myths may be accounted
for by the universal prevalence of similar mental habits (this,
however, will not account for long and intricate plots).

(7) Jevons points out the reflection of myth by ritual.

(8) The present writer believes:

      (i) That myth is for the most part sacred in character,

      (ii) That it is prior in origin to ritual and is not
      derived from it, except in a secondary sense,

      (iii) That mythic conditions are capable of a more or less
      exact classification.

Having indicated our own attitude toward myth, we will now proceed to
examine the manner in which the idea of the gods was evolved.

[1] It follows that neither is this a sketch of the history of the
science of folklore. The Greeks of Pausanias' day may have possessed
the elements of a folklore. He flourished before the State recognition
of Christianity, but Greek myth in his day was breaking down. In any
case, such questions are foreign to our inquiry, which deals with myth
as defined by us and with that alone. The great students of folklore
are alluded to in this sketch for what they have written on myth, and
for nothing else. The present condition of the science demands explicit
statement in this respect, and this must be our excuse in making it.

[2] Iris, daughter of Thaumas and the ocean nymph Electra, was the
personification of the rainbow and messenger of the Greek gods,
especially of Zeus and Hera.

[3] Müller, _A Scientific System of Mythology,_ 1838.

[4] Cow. A 'shelly-coat cow' was, in Scots parlance, a bogy. It is
thought that the shells on such an animal are a reminiscence of the
scale armour of the vikings, whose memory was a terror to the Scottish
peasantry. To 'cow' is, of course, much the same as to 'bully.'

[5] Grimace.

[6] That is, "These shall surround the bier."

[7] Thus, according to Müller, the name Athene, unintelligible in its
Greek form, at once becomes explicable when compared with the Sanskrit
Ahana, 'the dawn.'

[8] His views will be found stated in _Selected Essays_ and _Lectures
upon Language._

[9] See his _Comparative Grammar_, English translation by Eastwick (3rd
ed.), 1862.

[10] See "The Lesson of Jupiter," _Nineteenth Century_ for October
1885: "To understand the origin and meaning of the names of the Greek
gods and to enter into the original intention of the fables told of
each, we must take into account the collateral evidence supplied by
Latin, German, Sanskrit, and Zend philology." See also _Lectures on
Language_,2nd ser., p. 406.

[11] See his _Nebelsagen_ (1879) and _Das Räthsel der Sphinx_ (1889).

[12] Apart from its philological efforts, the work of Müller his
disciples is of permanent value, and his critics undoubtedly did a
disservice to mythological science when they condemned it root and
branch. The training of no student of mythology can be complete if
it lacks a consideration of Müller's works, which, of course, must
be perused in the light of the comparative failure of his linguistic

[13] Lang in _Ency. Brit._, (11th ed.), art. "Mythology."

[14] _Ibid._

[15] _Modern Mythology_, pp. 55, 63.

[16] _Primitive Culture_(London, 1871), p. 282.

[17] _Primitive Culture_(London, 1871), pp. 283, 284.

[18] _Ibid._, p. 284.

[19] _Primitive Culture_ (London, 1871), p. 320.

[20] _Primitive Culture_(London, 1871), p. 320.

[21] _Ibid._, pp. 415, 416.

[22] This appears to the author a suitable term for those bodies of
myth which deal exclusively with the lives and adventures of the gods,
and differ therefore so strikingly from all other classes of myth.

[23] It seems to me that a small proportion only of myth as we know it
can owe its origin to the intention of the males to conceal matters
from the women and boys. Most written myth is certainly the work of
priesthoods, and as it often accompanies ritual, the immobile character
of the latter is a guarantee of its genuineness. Again, it frequently
appears as pseudo-history, and could therefore scarcely be designed to
screen anything more esoteric. The myths enacted in Hellenic mystery
plays do not appear to have differed much in plot from the stories of
popular acceptance, and the same may be said concerning those American
myths which are danced out in the secrecy of male mystic societies.

[24] Extensive correspondence with students of myth has helped to
convince me of the partial breakdown of Lang's argument.

[25] For example, on America, like Frazer, he bungles sadly, and seems
to have betaken himself for information to the wrong authority in
almost every instance, and especially when he desires to illustrate an

[26] Lang's 'All-Father' deities forcibly suggest evolution from
the old 'sky-god,' if, indeed, they were not that deity without
much alteration. The 'Sky-Father' in opposition, or at least
in contradistinction, to the 'Earth-Mother' was merely the sky
personalized as a 'magnified non-natural man.' Let us enumerate his
attributes, given by Lang in the _Encyclopædia Britannica:_

(1) His home is in the sky.

(2) He is the maker of things.

(3) Mankind are his disobedient progeny, whom he casts out of heaven.

This specification can allude to no type other than sky-gods, which
are wholly 'animistic' in origin. If Lang had chanced to think of this
resemblance himself, he would probably have been the first to admit the
correctness of such a statement. His _The Making of Religion_ bears
proof of its obviousness on every page. The 'All-Father' idea certainly
evolves from the personalization of the sky. He quotes the Zuñi Indian
god Awonawilona as an 'All-Father'; Awonawilona is a Sky-Father pure
and simple, as his myth shows; and practically all his other examples
may be traced back in the same manner.

[27] _Magic and Religion_, pp. 207 _sqq._

[28] See review by Lewis Farnell in the _Quarterly Review_ for April

[29] The implication is frivolous and crude. I observe, as a specialist
in Mexican mythology, that Sir James habitually and most unfortunately
makes use of the wrong authorities to substantiate his claims when
dealing with this province of tradition; but that a scholar of his
standing would descend to such depths there is not a shadow of
proof. The science of tradition at the present time is in much the
same state as was that of chemistry in the hands of the medieval
alchemists--_i.e._, a large degree of experiment must enter into its
composition--and where all are beginners who dare cast the first stone,
especially if it be against a man who has rendered such services to
mythology and folklore as must be remembered with gratitude and even
affection by all the workers in our common vineyard? Has he not taught

"To hope, till hope creates From its own wreck the thing it

I differ from him in many points _toto cœlo_; but is not endeavour the
most precious thing in a new science? May we not say in mythology as in
literature, _Fax mentis incendium gloria_? The very circumstance that a
man carries such a torch as is borne by Sir James entitles him to our
highest esteem, even if, as in my own case, we only partially agree
with his notions, or almost wholly dissent from them, as Mr Farnell
seems to do.

[30] English translation by Elizabeth Frost, London, 1912.

[31] This deals an effective blow to more than one Teutonic claim to
priority in this field.

[32] We have shown above that the conservatism of the savage, like that
of the child, would not permit this.

[33] It must of course be clear to the 'meanest intelligence' that it
is quite possible for myths to be created to explain ritual, but such
myths must, almost of necessity; be late in origin and can only arise
when the original myth which gave rise to the ritualistic practice has
been lost. For what reason, it may be asked, is ritual invented and
originated? Surely it presupposes a divine being, and if it does, it
creates a myth; unless, of course, ritual was originally a magical act,
an attempt to use some occult force, such as _mana_. One can understand
that in the latter circumstances a myth may ultimately arise from
ritual, otherwise I am unable to comprehend the contention, so often
made in works dealing with mythology, that ritual is prior to myth.
Nor do I consider magical ritual 'religious' but pseudo-scientific in
nature, as magic is invariably pseudo-scientific and not religious at



The evolution of the idea of godhead in the mind of man is in its later
stages inalienably associated with the conception of spirit.[1]

As we have seen (pp. 58-59), Tylor considers that man first attained
the idea of spirit by reflection on experiences such as sleep, dreams,
trances, shadows, hallucinations, breath, and death, and by degrees
extended this conception of soul or ghost until he peopled all nature
with spirits, from among which one supreme being was finally raised
above all.

An outline of the animistic conception has been provided in the
introductory chapter. Here it is only necessary to apply it to the
evolution of deity. The opinion of Marett, that in an early stage of
human development pre-animistic 'powers' exist which do not partake
of the nature of spirit, does not require to be restated, as it has
but little bearing upon the question directly before us; and we will
advance to that stage in human mental development when spirit has
become fully recognized. The conception of simple personalization
could not have lasted long at any epoch, as it would sooner or later
be brought into contact with the idea of the separable soul. Thus if
gods were regarded as 'magnified non-natural men' (the very phrase
'non-natural' is against the personalization idea), or physical objects
or natural phenomena were worshipped or placated because of their
peculiarities, the idea of spirit would undoubtedly infuse and alter
these beliefs at a very early stage in their career. Thus no deity
could well escape becoming spiritualized. Why should this be so? Why
should spiritualization be necessary to deity? The point is important.
If we admit that certain physical objects were worshipped because of
their peculiarities, if we believe that the earth and sky, for example,
were personalized and conceived as without spiritual attributes in the
beginning, that only _what was seen_ was worshipped, how comes it that
among the most primitive races the god, as apart from his idol, is
invisible--that is, spiritual? The idol may, of course, be a relic of
the period when only what was beheld was worshipped, but that period
must indeed have been brief, when one takes into consideration the
probable early junction of the ideas of spirit and deity.


The conception of spirit must have been an early idea, contemporary,
one would imagine, with the dawn of reason. Man, claiming for himself
the possession of spirit, could scarcely deny it to a superior power,
and if the fear of godhead agitated him when beheld in the convulsions
of nature, as in the thunder-storm or earthquake, how much more
would the half-heard mutterings of the _unseen_ agencies dwelling in
the whistling winds and darkling woods cause terror in his breast?
Regarding the physical agencies he knew the worst, and could learn how
to avoid or mitigate their terrors, but what chance had he against
those agencies he could not perceive, and how much greater must have
been his fear of them? Thus was born that dread of the invisible, the
unseen, which even to-day chills the human heart and plays havoc with
human imagination.

The idea of the separable soul thus evolved from visions and dreams and
applied to godhead might assist in the making of several varying forms
of deity, as in fetishism, totemism, or the worship of the dead--if,
indeed, it did not originate in this latter form. The application of
spirit to deity perhaps found its first illustration in the worship of
ancestors--a low form of evolution in the line of godhead, as few gods
evolved from ancestors survive more than several generations, and few
of the great departmental deities of the higher early religions display
signs of having evolved from ancestors. Moreover, where such signs are
present they are of doubtful value. The religion of China is perhaps
the only great example of the continuity of the worship of ancestors.
But it is important to note that this form of deity _may_ have been
that to which the idea of spirit was first applied.

Fetishism forms an important link in the evolution of the mere
animistic spirit into the god. Before examining the manner in which a
fetish originates and rises to godhead, let us see exactly what class
of spirit is supposed to inhabit it.


The fetish is pre-eminently a personal familiar--that is, a spirit
which for certain reasons (the desire for shelter and food, or because
a powerful spell has been laid upon it) becomes attached to a human
being. It is acquired by a person or a family for luck, and in return
requires a certain amount of worship or respect, sacrifice, and
feasting. It may receive good or evil treatment according as it behaves
to its votaries. It is by no means a tutelar deity, since it may be
bought or sold, loaned or inherited. It generally has its home in
some object, preferably of a peculiar shape or character, inhabiting
a figure shaped in human or animal form, a stone, bone, necklace of
fingers, a carved or painted stick, a curious fossil, a stuffed skin,
the dried hand of an enemy--in short, anything that fancy or caprice
may dictate.

The manner of making a fetish is almost universally the same. Says Mr
Davenport Adams of the Samoyede image-makers[2]: "The bleak and lonely
island of Waigatz is still, as in the days of the Dutch adventurer,
Barentz, supposed to be the residence of the chief of these minor
divinities. There a block of stone, pointed at the summit, bears a
certain resemblance to a human head, having been wrought into this
likeness by a freak of nature. The Samoyede image-makers have taken
it for their model, and multiplied it in wood and stone; and the idols
thus easily manufactured they call _sjadaei_, because they wear a human
(or semi-human) countenance (_sja_). They attire them in reindeer
skins, and embellish them with innumerable coloured rags. In addition
to the _sjadaei_, they adopt as idols any curiously contorted tree or
irregularly shapen stone; and the household idol (_Hahe_) they carry
about with them, carefully wrapped up, in a sledge reserved for the
purpose, the _hahengan_. One of the said Penates is supposed to be the
guardian of wedded happiness, another of the fishery, a third of the
health of his worshippers, a fourth of their herds of reindeer. When
his services are needed, the _Hahe_ is removed from its resting-place,
and erected in the tent or on the pasture-ground, in the wood, or
on the river's bank. Then his mouth is smeared with oil or blood,
and before him is set a dish of fish or flesh, in return for which
repast it is expected that he will use his power on behalf of his
entertainers. When his aid is no longer needed, he is returned to the


Mr Payne in his _History of the New World called America_ has an
admirable passage about the fetish. He says: "The spirits, then, whom
the savage believes to share the world with him, are considered to be
substantial beings, consisting of flesh and blood like man himself; and
like him nourished by food and drink. They are therefore not immortal:
like man, they are liable to death by violence or starvation. They are
also subject to that alternation of want and abundance which occupies
so large a space in human experience. In this circumstance, coupled
with the fact that some of these spirits are conceived as injurious
or evil, others as benevolent or good, we have the key of primitive
theology. Man seeks to keep the good or benevolent spirits alive,
to satisfy their wants, and to give them pleasure, in the hope of
interesting them by this means in the success of his own enterprises:
and for this purpose he provides them with food and drink. Hunting
peoples, who have no gods, occasionally sacrifice food to the
spirits, in order to obtain success in the chase: thus the Veddah of
Ceylon place on the ground offerings of blood and burnt flesh for
the Vedde-Yakko (spirit of the chase), promising further offerings
of the same kind when the game is caught If the spirit accepts these
offerings, he is understood to appear to them in dreams, telling them
where to hunt. Some low agricultural and cattle-keeping tribes, who
have not attained the conception of gods, place pieces of manioc-root
and ears of maize on branches of trees, to propitiate the spirits.
These sacrifices of the Veddah illustrate in its simplest form the
principle which lies at the root of all. The spirits for whom they are
intended are beings of animal nature, chiefly differing from other
animals in that they are naturally invisible, but have the power of
assuming various forms, and of moving swiftly through the air from
place to place. Air, perhaps, rather than earth, is conceived to be
their proper element: it is at any rate certain that food-offerings,
in order to reach them, must be committed to the air. There are only
two methods of doing this, libation and combustion: the former adapted
to liquids, the latter to solids. Liquids are poured on the ground,
on a stone, or into a bowl or other receptacle, and pass into the
air by simple evaporation. Solids are burnt, and pass into the air
in the form of smoke. In offering to the spirits food in the form of
blood, the Veddah follows the universal logic of primitive savagery.
Man once consumed his game warm and raw. Fatigued with the chase,
emaciated perhaps by previous fasting, the savage slays his victim,
drinks of the hot blood, feels himself at once invigorated, and makes
his meal upon its flesh at leisure. The rest of the blood, spilled on
the ground, quickly dries up. The savage, who has but one solution for
most physical phenomena, concludes that the spirits have drunk it.
Blood, therefore, is their natural food. In this, repugnant as it is
to modern prejudices, the savage sees nothing revolting or unnatural.
Blood, which is in truth only the material of flesh, is to him a
perfectly natural food; scarcely less so, perhaps, than milk, which is
nothing but blood filtered through a gland. Henceforth, a part of the
blood of all animals that man slays, wild or domestic, will be poured
out for the spirits, or for the gods who succeed them. Ultimately,
when man abandons the practice, once universal, of feeding on blood,
all the blood of a slaughtered animal is poured out as the share of
the invisible powers. Sometimes, in a later stage, when sacrifice is
more fully developed, clotted blood is collected when the carcase
is cold, and wrapped in a cloth; this is placed in a basket and
suspended in the air. Such was the practice of the advanced Indians of
Nicaragua, between the lake and the ocean, emigrants from Mexico, when
sacrificing, after the chase, to the _teomazat_ and _teotoste_, or gods
of the deer and rabbit respectively. It is equally in accordance with
primitive logic to offer to the spirits a portion of the flesh. The
invisible powers must have their share of all that man delights in: at
a later period offerings are made them of fermented liquors, narcotics,
perfumes, and the material of clothing and ornaments. From the solid
parts of the slain animal those are selected which are most easily
volatilised. A portion of the fat, ultimately all the fat which adheres
to the internal organs of the slain animal, is therefore burnt, and
reaches the nostrils of the spirits in the form of a grateful savour.
At a later period, when man depends for flesh food on domesticated
animals, such offerings are reserved for gods of the first rank: and
hence in Peru the chief deities, who alone were thus honoured, obtained
the distinctive name of _huira-cocha_ (fat sacrifices)."


Such fetishes as are 'successful'--that is, such of them as survive the
test of domestic use and prove luck-bringers--may by their miraculous
acts or the power and policy of their immediate devotees become gods.
But it must be borne in mind that a fetish-object is the place of
imprisonment or residence, manufactured by human agency, of a spirit
which has concluded a bargain with its devotees to act for their mutual
benefit. Only a series of marvels of a protective or fortune-making
nature can raise it to the rank of godhead, or, as has been said, the
policy of its owners, who thus constitute themselves its priesthood.
Says Mr Payne: "Before the gods are thus permanently established they
have usually passed through a period of probation. Only the fittest
survive: if the god proves useless for the purpose for which he exists,
whether of securing success in the chase, abundant crops, or fortune
in war, he is forthwith abandoned. Where game and fish abound, and
agriculture remains in its rudiments, the gods are chiefly required
to render assistance in hunting, fishing, and war, though some are
employed to secure success in cultivation. Such was the condition of
the tribes throughout the vast region of the Amazon river who had
gods for each of these purposes. On an expedition of war one of the
war-gods was placed in the prow of the boat; on a fishing expedition
this place was occupied by a god holding a fish. When out of use the
gods were stowed away in baskets; in case these expeditions proved
unsuccessful the gods were thrown aside and replaced by others. But
those which survive the test of experience are cherished in families
as possessions of the highest value. These are the _t'raphim_ of the
Hebrews, the _penates_ of the Latins, the _cconopa_ of the Peruvians:
words in each case meaning precisely the 'nourishers' or 'food-givers'
of the household. According to the Biblical narrative, the daughter
of an Aramæan sheikh considered herself entitled to take with her
some of these family gods when she crossed the Euphrates with her
Hebrew husband: an incident which recalls the Turcoman legend of
Sekedschet, whose Chinese wife brought household gods with her as
part of her dowry. These gods, it is clear, were regarded as mere
chattels, existing for the benefit of their owners: in Bokhara, indeed,
they were commonly bought and sold at markets or fairs. So long as
man worshipped only these merely factitious gods, this essential
instability obviously prevented his religious ideas from gaining force
and permanence: qualities which first appear when he begins to worship
the distinguished dead, and only become conspicuous when he adopts as
objects of veneration the permanent objects and forces of nature."


A totem spirit achieves godhead in much the same way as the fetish.
That the totem develops into the god is abundantly proven by the
animal likenesses and attributes of many deities in lands widely
separated. The animal-headed gods of Egypt, the bovine deities of
Assyria, the animal gods of many pantheons are, very many of them,
totemic in origin. These frequently attained a human semblance at
a later stage of their history, but in many instances the original
totem animal or a portion of its insignia remained. Thus the Grecian
Pallas Athene was attended by an owl; Apollo was accompanied by a
mouse ('Apollo Smintheus'); the Mexican god of war, Uitzilopochtli,
was frequently disguised in a cloak made of humming-birds' feathers;
and Prometheus must have possessed wings to enable him to steal the
fire from heaven. Many gods, as Lang says, exhibit traces of "fur and
feather," but all of these are not necessarily totemic. Where the act
of devouring the deity symbolically by means of the substitution of an
animal or man for the eponym or god is indulged in at certain stated
intervals, the origin of the god so communed with is totemic, and this
fact often serves to determine the nature of a deity.

Says Salomon Reinach (_Cultes, mythes, et religions_, p. 7): "The
distribution of the clan totems among the tribal and national gods was
not the work of a day: it must have been conditioned by a whole mass
of circumstances--alliances, wars, local amalgamations--the clue to
which is obviously lost forever. One factor of the first importance
seems to have been the ritual of sacrifice; which, like all rituals,
is eminently conservative. Take the case of a clan owning the bull as
its totem, and sacrificing it at intervals. In time the era of personal
deities is ushered in; the bull is converted into an attribute of the
chief god, and offered up to him in sacrifice: yet there lingers a more
or less distinct recollection of the victim's own divinity."

It has been well said that man cannot realize the gods _as_ gods
until he becomes aware of his own humanity. Before that they must
appear to him as what Marett calls 'powers.' That is where animism
with its branches, totemism and fetishism, may be distinguished from
the religions of the higher cultus, the polytheisms which possess
definite pantheons, and the monotheisms. It is noticeable that in
early myth _animals often take the place of gods_, a sure sign that
the race which regarded the animal as occupying the place of a creator
or hero had not yet 'found itself' as human, had not yet realized the
enormous nature of the gulf which separates animal and human nature,
was yet totally in the dark regarding the great things of which man was
capable, his marvellous adaptability and wondrous destiny. When man
realizes his superiority, then the totem-gods take on his own image,
retaining only the symbols or insignia of the beast, or perhaps part
of their ancient animal appearance. Thus the Egyptian sun-goddess,
Bast, from being represented in early times as a cat pure and simple,
was later figured as a woman having a cat's head. Uitzilopochtli, the
Aztec war-god, evolved from humming-bird shape to man-like similitude,
retaining, however, the colibri-feather cloak. The Mayan maize-spirit,
when he attained god-like proportions, was represented as a young
man wearing on his head-dress the graceful waving plumes of the
maize-plant. These instances are illustrative of the different manner
in which various peoples free their minds of the old beast-god ideas
handed down for untold generations. Thus the strongly conservative
Egyptians, probably because of fusion with other races, adopt the
anthropomorphic form, but still retain the animal appearance in its
most significant item--the head; the symbol-loving Aztecs preserve the
humming-bird's feathers on their war-god's dress, while the still more
anthropomorphic Greeks content themselves with placing the animal image
beside the man-like god, instead of in any way amalgamating the two


The process of manufacturing a god from a dead man, although at first
sight apparently less involved than that of the evolution of a deity
through fetishistic or totemic media, is found on close examination to
be even more complex. Among many primitive races, and some that are not
primitive, it is the bounden duty of the dead man's son to see that
his _manes_, his spirit, wants for nothing. Even as he cherished his
son during the first years of the infant's life, so his heir is now
bound by all he holds sacred to cherish his ghost and guard it against
hunger, thirst, and cold. Woe betide the unfilial wretch who neglected
the tomb of his father! Among the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chinese
such a dereliction of duty was regarded with the utmost abhorrence.
Dreadful was the lot of the uncared-for dead. Says the Gilgamesh epic,
the greatest literary product of ancient Babylonia:

     The man whose spirit has none to care for it--
     Thou and I have often seen such an one--
     The dregs of the vessel, the leavings of the feast,
     And that which is cast out upon the street are his food.

Great care was bestowed by Egyptian sons upon the _post-mortem_
welfare of their parents, and the most solemn duty of a Chinaman is
that of tending the spirits of his dead forefathers. This attention
in course of time evolves into a very deep reverence, which greatly
exalts the dead in the estimation of their descendants. In India and
elsewhere critical observers have watched the progress of the evolution
into godhead of innumerable dead men. A holy ascetic dies, famous
throughout the neighbourhood for his piety and the rigour of his life.
Miracles occur at his shrine. His surviving relatives foster the cult
of his fame. His human "personality becomes misty, his origin grows
mysterious, his career takes a legendary hue, his birth and death
were both supernatural; in the next generation the names of the elder
gods get introduced into the story, and so the marvellous tradition
works itself into a myth, until nothing but a personal incarnation can
account for such a series of prodigies. The man was an avatar of Vishnu
or Siva; his supreme apotheosis is now complete, and the Brahmins feel
warranted in providing for him a niche in the orthodox pantheon."[3]

This, of course, is an instance where the memory of his sanctity
helps to turn a man into a god. No such idea enters into the earliest
ancestor-worship. Among primitive savages the dead man would be
worshipped because of the memory of his personal might when alive, the
number of his clansmen and adherents, and for similar reasons. But
'human' gods, ancestors and others, seldom reach any great altitude of


At a very early epoch in the relations of man with the gods we
find him entering into a tacit understanding which develops into a
well-recognized pact. Even when the gods are in the fetish state we
find the hunter smearing blood upon their mouths and imploring their
assistance in return. It is a case, as the old proverb says, of 'Ka
me, ka thee.' Man undoubtedly possesses an instinctive belief in the
existence of a superior being or beings. He may twist this fundamental
belief into any shape he pleases, but basically it remains the same.
This belief in gods is not in itself religion. Inalienably possessing
the idea of the existence of deity, and shaping it as his intelligence
permits, man has yet to make religion, which consists in the worship
and cult of supernatural beings, for his comfort, uplifting, assurance,
and help. Man says to himself, "If He be with us who shall be against
us?" and with the god for him feels secure against every adversary.

The 'comfort' derived from faith, of which all must have greater or
less experience, the assurance that man is watched over, guided,
and tended by a being to whom he is an object of solicitude, was
probably experienced at a much earlier stage of human history than is
generally admitted, but the bargain, the compact by which both man
and god dwell together to mutual advantage, is obviously antecedent
to these feelings, and is dictated by calculation as opposed to pure
love. "Feed us, send us plenteous game, O Divine One, and we shall in
turn maintain thee with sacrifice." Such is the compact. A similar
bargain is made when man quits his hunter's life and begins to live an
agricultural existence; nor does the nature of the pabulum offered to
the gods differ with the adoption of an agricultural existence. Blood
is the food of the gods when man sacrifices to them in his capacity
of hunter, and continues to be so when he adopts cereals, although
instances do occur of cereal and vegetable sacrifices. Vegetarian gods
are few, and the majority of savages favour the cult of Abel, not
that of the brother who angered Yahweh by the agricultural nature
of his sacrifices. The most complete instance on record of a compact
in which a markedly agricultural community rigidly maintained the
blood-sacrifice to the gods is that of ancient Mexico, where thousands
of prisoners of war were annually immolated, and where an annual strife
between the states of Mexico and Tlaxcala was upheld for the purpose of
furnishing the altars of one or other with human victims.


These considerations lead to the question: In what manner are the
gods of the agricultural community evolved? Does the corn-spirit,
the genius of the wheat or maize, triumph over and banish the older
animistic deities of the chase? These certainly sink into a secondary
position, although some gods of totemic origin continue to flourish,
despite their new agricultural surroundings, and even survive and hold
high positions in the pantheon, perhaps altered by later political and
abstract ideas out of all semblance to their original condition. Old
tribal gods, too, may become agricultural.

In what manner, then, does the triumphant corn-spirit evolve into the
god? And, firstly, what is the nature of a corn-spirit? In animistic
belief everything natural possesses life and so, probably, 'soul,'
'ghost,' or 'spirit,' the corn-plant no less than any other object.
Representations of corn-and maize-gods almost invariably show them as
symbolically decorated with the plant they were supposed to inhabit.
The genius, spirit, or informing soul of the grain would in an
agricultural community attain such prime importance that within a short
time it would undoubtedly receive divine honours.


The corn-spirit was capable of attaining a high rank of godhead, as we
may see from the myth of the Egyptian god Osiris. Osiris was the first
to instruct men how to plant the corn-seed, and his annual festival
began with the tillage of the soil. In one of the chambers dedicated to
him in the great temple of Isis at Philæ his dead body is represented
with stalks of corn springing from it. These are being watered by a
priest, and the accompanying inscription reads that this is "Osiris of
the mysteries who springs from the returning waters" (of the Nile).
Surely such a painting can only illustrate Osiris as a corn-deity.
And were not, according to legend, his mangled remains scattered up
and down the land of Egypt?--perhaps a mythical way of expressing the
sowing or winnowing of the grain, an interpretation supported by the
tale that Isis placed the severed limbs of Osiris on a corn-sieve.

Granted, then, that Osiris was a corn-spirit in one of his
manifestations, we have now to judge from his tale how far it is
possible for the corn-spirit to evolve in the line of godhead--to
what altitude of deity it is possible for him to soar and what divine
honours he is capable of reaching.

At an early stage of Egyptian history we find Osiris the deity of an
agricultural religion, plainly the god of a grain-growing people. His
cult persisted through all the exigencies and changes of Egyptian
theology and occupied a prominent place in the affections of the
people, who, although they acknowledged the worship of Ra and Amen
at various epochs, continued faithful to Osiris. His worship by
reason of its antiquity and popularity triumphed in the end over more
aristocratic and perhaps alien forms. But the early conception of
Osiris as the spirit of the corn-plant and afterward as a guardian
deity of agriculture, although maintained in essence, was greatly
modified and overshadowed by the attributes which were bestowed upon
him at a later period. Thus, like Persephone and other corn-deities,
he was regarded as a god of the Underworld, or place of the dead, and
consequently as judge of the departed. In his history we observe the
process of evolution from an animistic spirit inhabiting the corn-plant
to a god embodying divine justice, and holding in his hands both reward
and punishment.

A great deal has been written concerning the supposed non-ethical
and non-moral character of mythological figures. In early times it
is probable that the gods were no less savage and immoral than their
worshippers; but when we encounter well-known deities for the first
time in the pages of classical authors, we have little difficulty in
discovering that although the attributes of savagery still cling to
them, they are also informed by a spirit of justice and wisdom, if
not of mercy or compassion. Such qualities, indeed, as man desired in
the gods, he endowed them with. Again, the existence of collegiate
or monastic institutions in such countries as Egypt, India, Mexico,
and Babylonia did much to foster contemplation and piety, and greatly
assisted the evolution of the ethical spirit. When we first meet
with Osiris, Ra, Thoth, Ptah, and other Egyptian gods, they are the
repositories of justice and wisdom, if not of love and compassion.
The same holds good of many Hindu deities, notably of Brahma. The
Greek gods were, perhaps, unfortunate in the circumstance that the age
of their first literary presentment preceded that of their ethical
evolution. Accounts of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico lead us to
believe that at least one Mexican deity, Tezcatlipoca, possessed
a sense of justice, and that another, Tlazolteotl, forgave sin;
and the traditions of many modern savage peoples are not without
god-like figures whose ethical standpoint is superior to that of their

With the material now to our hand it is important that we fully employ
every possible rational method of interpretation. The folly of adopting
one key to open all mythological doors has been illustrated by the
fate of such systems as attempted to interpret the nature of the gods
by theories of a 'disease of language' or the solar nature of all
deities. The 'vegetable' school, as Lang dubbed it, possesses almost
as many pitfalls for the unwary. Let no method, linguistic, solar,
anthropological, dominate our conclusions, but let none be absent from
our counsels.

[1] The general theory of this work, though, as already stated,
eclectic, is, so far as its opinions upon the evolution of the idea of
spirit or soul is concerned, in sympathy with the animistic hypothesis
of Tylor, an hypothesis subjected to a certain amount of criticism from
the younger generation of students of comparative religion. But as
these students have not yet erected a worthy rival explanation of the
evolution of godhead, and as what they have accomplished is of the most
fragmentary nature, we will refrain from reviewing their work, and will
content ourselves with an examination of the animistic idea, bringing
to bear upon it only such criticism as seems really necessary.

[2] _Curiosities of Superstition_, pp. 155, 156.

[3] A. C. Lyall, _Asiatic Studies_, p. 19 (London, 1907).



There are certain objections against giving 'departmental' names, such
as 'god of fire,' 'god of wine,' to deities, but in certain stages of
religious evolution these 'departmental deities' are found--gods of
fire, water, earth, and air, hunting, thunder-deities connected with
various crafts and even with certain qualities. It is, however, only in
the higher stages of polytheism that such deities are finally stamped
with the 'departmental' character.[1]

As has already been pointed out, there is more than one explanation
of such gods. Fault has been found with the division of deities into
agricultural and non-agricultural, but there is no doubt whatever
that the change from nomadic to agricultural life and the consequent
altered conditions gave birth to a completely new set of religious
ideas. In the nomadic or hunting stage of existence, when man depends
for subsistence upon the flesh of animals and such wild fruits as
he can procure, he regards with veneration the supernatural beings
he thinks help or hinder him in the chase. Thus among certain North
American Indian tribes the barbarian hunter has a fetish shaped like
a mountain-lion. After making it an offering, he places its carven
nostrils to his own, believing that by so doing he inhales its courage.
He then breathes out deeply, in order to spread the breath of the
animal over a wide area and paralyse all the game in the neighbourhood.
On slaying a deer he cuts out the liver and smears the blood thereof
on the mouth of the fetish as a reward. Finally he prays to the Great
Deer, the mythical or magnified ancestor of the animal killed, not to
seek vengeance against him for having taken the life of one of his

This is a picture of the utilitarian side of a savage hunter's
religion, and it is a representative one. Thus we see with what simple
religious elements the hunter has to do, and yet what an involved
ritual these primitive ideas may bring in their train. He recognizes
other supernatural beings than his own personal and tribal fetishes,
the eponymous heads of the beast clans. For example, he fears and
attempts to placate the being whom he deems to cause the thunder and
lightning. Later he sees in this god a great hunter, the patron of his
own craft of the chase, launching the fiery shaft from heaven.

The wind and the sun may appear to him to possess personality and
even deity, as they symbolize the breath and heat of life; but he can
scarcely adore them with the same fervour as that of the husbandman,
who depends entirely for his sustenance on the good will of sun and

The transition from the nomadic or hunting state to the agricultural
may or may not be abrupt. It may depend on slow evolution or on the
union of a hunting with an agricultural people, but whatever the cause
of the adoption of more settled habits of existence, the gods of the
chase do not all at once disappear into the background. Many of them
hold their own until a later stage of polytheism is reached, and not
a few supernatural forms of a primitive 'departmental' or 'animistic'
type have achieved high rank in more than one later pantheon. Thus, as
has already been shown, the Mexican Uitzilopochtli and the Latin Picus
were evolved from bird totems which had led their respective tribesmen
to battle in the days of old.

But the great measure of difference between the religions of nomadic
and agricultural peoples is the compact which each makes with its gods.
Adoration in the animistic stage is caused either by a sense of fear,
by the indefinable feeling for the sacred, or because something is
hoped for from the deity placated or worshipped. The contract between
the hunter and the fetish which guides his actions with its advice or
magic is of a low material type. He can scarcely have an agreement
with a thunder-god or any such being, but with the gods which preside
over vegetable growths the husbandman makes a very definite contract.
An unpropitious season brings home to him the risk attending an
agricultural existence, famine staring him in the face. Remembering the
manner in which he placated the deities of his nomadic existence--by
sacrifice--he proceeds by a like process[2] to placate the new deities
upon whose good-will the growth of his crops depends. The earth may be
weary after bearing so much grain; therefore it must be drenched with
blood in order that it may recover from the strain. The clouds may be
absent, so that the corn becomes scorched and withered; therefore a
tithe of human life must be given to the water--in other words, victims
must be drowned. The ever-present sun must be kept in good humour, for
without his light and heat the grain would not germinate and human life
would be destroyed; therefore the steam of blood must arise to fill his
nostrils. The contract is clear though unwritten: "Continue to feed us,
O gods, and we shall feed you."

Thus the strictly departmental type of deity arises. At first he is
a mere corn-spirit, maize-spirit, earth-spirit, water-, thunder-,
sun-spirit, or what not--sun, water, grain, or earth personified--but
as generations pass his fame grows and attracts wider reverence. His
attributes become numerous, his ritual more involved; and the wondrous
sentiment of the sacred surrounds him with a mystic veil. Ethical
ideas become attached to his worship; he is regarded as a fount of
righteousness; and, from being non-moral and non-human, he comes to
possess a sanctified human character as well as more than human powers.
Let us examine a few 'departmental' types of godhead with the object of
tracing them back to their original forms, if possible.


It will be well if we commence our inquiry with deities which are
obviously of elemental origin.

One of the first to attract our attention is naturally the sun
himself. In all times and in most climates the great luminary has been
regarded as the source of life. In nearly all the higher mythologies
he occupies a distinguished place, if not the principal seat, in the
pantheon. In the later stages of his godhead, also, his attributes
themselves are deified; but it is in his early career as a god that we
must first deal with him here.

In the earliest animistic conception of the sun he is regarded as
having life and volition at least equal, if not superior, to man. His
character among a primitive people may be gauged from the utterance
of the Peruvian monarch who cast doubts upon his godhead and told the
solar priesthood that so far from possessing the attributes of deity,
the sun was compelled by some force superior to himself to make the
same journey daily over a fixed path. That this had not occurred to the
solar worshippers of Peru shows that they gave no scientific interest,
but merely a devout observation, to the luminary, and that, without
bestowing any theological thought on the matter, they had merely
adopted the old animistic idea of the sun as a living thing, little
more or less.

When we come to examine later phases of sun-worship (and these cast
light upon early solar religious ideas) we may discern that the
original animistic idea of the sun as a living thing has evolved into,
or given way before, a more purely anthropomorphic idea. This is a
point of the first importance. Many writers on mythology appear to
be under the impression that in later polytheistic times the sun was
regarded itself as a personified god, and in some cases it may be so,
but the idea was by no means universal, and it would seem that the
sun-god was regarded more as a dweller in the house of the sun than as
the sun himself.

Similarly the supernatural beings known as culture-heroes come to earth
for a season, introduce the arts of civilization to men, and return
once more to their bright abode, usually in a westerly direction.
Such is the Greek Apollo, whereas another Greek god, Helios, is the
sun himself. Apollo represents the dusk-dispelling, civilizing agency
of the orb of day, and with his golden arrows slays the Python, the
serpent of night. In Egyptian mythology the sun is a boat in which
several deities daily take ship to cross the heavens. Behind these
anthropomorphic conceptions, however, lurked the older animistic idea,
for we find that the Egyptians speak of the sun, the luminary itself,
as _the_ god, and that the Mexicans call it _the_ teotl, the deity _par
excellence_. Thus the animistic and anthropomorphic systems were in
certain mythologies kept distinct. In others the animistic idea of the
sun--that is, the sun itself, personified--remained to the end, as in
the case of the Babylonian Merodach or the Japanese Ama-terasu. It is
necessary, however, that the mythologist should distinguish between the
anthropomorphic 'man of the sun' and the merely animistic concept of
the sun-god.

Having thus distinguished between earlier and later types of the sun as
deity, let us attempt to discover first his attributes as a god, and
secondly if any definite and universal type of myth attaches to him. A
generation ago mythologists were prone to "see sun-gods everywhere,"
as Mannhardt expressed it; but since that time the pendulum has swung
too far in the other direction. Abundant criticism has been launched
against the 'solar' theory, but it is not always pertinent and in many
cases it is merely futile. The theory suffered from the philological
school with which it was unfortunately bound up, and neither critics
nor readers seem to be able to judge it on its mythological merits
alone. In our inquiries as to the attributes and mythical character of
the sun-god we shall find that the one will cast light on the other,
for as his almost universal myth becomes revealed to us his attributes
will gradually unfold themselves. In disentangling solar myths, too, we
must be careful to lift the veil of allegory often cast over them later.

A rough synopsis of the groundwork of solar myth might be given as
follows. After the sun has risen from the mysterious darkness, and
after he has forsaken his first love, the dawn, he pursues his course,
gaining access of strength as he proceeds in his bark or fiery chariot
until, having passed the zenith, he gradually declines in strength, and
on the verge o the western heavens encounters the monster night, who
fights with and devours him. He must then traverse the Underworld, with
all its dangers and horrors, until he succeeds in emerging once more at
the gates of morning.

Let us take a typical myth of this description, from which we may
be able to gauge the universality of the sun legend. Apollo was the
offspring of Zeus and Leto, the sky and the darkness. The name of
his mother, denoting the oblivion of night, reappears in 'Lethe,'
the gloomy river of the Underworld, and in 'Latmos,' the 'Land of
Shadows.' In the Ionian hymn which recounts the circumstances of his
birth we read that Leto, when about to become his mother, could find
no resting-place until she came to Delos. In that little stony island
alone could she find repose, and so poor was it that she dreaded that
her son, the great being about to be born, would spurn it into the
sea. When Apollo was born the earth rejoiced and Delos became covered
with flowers; but he was weak and helpless until Thetis touched his
lips with the drink and food of the gods, when his swaddling-clothes,
the white mists, fell off, and, seizing his lyre, he sang the praises
of Zeus. His sojourn in Delos was short, and a second hymn tells us
of his westward wanderings, of how he journeyed from land to land,
always, however, returning to his native Delos. As soon as he cast from
himself his swaddling-clothes, the white mists, he seized his quiver,
the universal symbol of the sun-god, and, thus armed, went forth on his
westward journey, until he came to the fountain of Telphussa, where he
desired to remain, but Telphussa urged him to seek the more favoured
land of Krisa. He then betook himself to Parnassus, where the two
supernatural builders, Trophonius and Agamedes, raised a palace for
him. It is at this point that he is confronted with the dragon which
all sun-heroes meet and overcome.

Thus we see that Apollo is born of a mother whose name is darkness,
that he casts from him the mists which enshroud him, and soars in the
height of his glory over Parnassus, latterly overcoming the Python.[3]

A story with a similar groundwork is that of Beowulf in our earliest
English saga. Betaking himself to the court of King Hrothgar of
Jutland, whose realm was being devastated by the monster Grendel, he
succeeded in slaying him, but later had to dive to the bottom of the
sea to encounter Grendel's mother. Years afterward he fights with and
conquers a dragon who guards a treasure, but in the combat is poisoned
by its fangs. Beowulf came to land in the traditional sun-boat as a
child. The Saxons called their harvest month _Beo_ or _Bewod,_ and
Grendel is, of course, the water-provider. The later dragon typifies
the continued contest between the sun-god and darkness, and the
treasure it guards is, of course, the gold of the setting sun, or
perhaps the elixir of life.

Similar stories are told regarding Indra, Cadmus, Horus, and lesser
sun heroes, such as Hercules, Perseus, Bellerophon, Sigurd, Siegfried,
and Rustem. The sun myth too has found its way into folklore. A good
example is the folk-tale of King Arthur, which shows how in all ages
the sun story has been interwoven with tales of local and even national
heroes. A great obscurity rests upon Arthur's birth, but at manhood
he springs into almost instant prominence and is hailed as rightful
monarch of Britain. He slays not one dragon but several. He possesses
the magic sword which all solar heroes wield. He kills his thousands
and tens of thousands, and finally, when placed _hors de combat_, like
other solar heroes, at Camelot, does not perish, but is wafted in a
magical boat to the island of Avalon in the western sea. The sun myth
has also attached itself to the stories of many of Arthur's knights,
especially to that of Sir Tristram. May it not be that even the Round
Table symbolizes the sun?


As a class, the deities usually called thunder-gods present a
peculiarly involved mythological problem, as they almost invariably
possess agricultural or military significance. The animistic conception
of the thunder is instanced in such myths as those of the tribes of the
Andes, who imagine the thunder to reside on the summit of a mountain,
surrounded by clouds, through the canopy of which the fire-red limbs
of the personified storm-spirits can ever and anon be seen. Other
tribes symbolize the thunder as a bird, the flapping of whose pinions
causes the reverberation of the storm, and this conception is found
among primitive peoples both in the American and Australian continents.
In passing it may be profitable to compare such a myth with the Greek
tale of Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from Heaven for human use.
Regarding the original bird form of Prometheus there can be little
doubt. Other forms of the myth, in America, Australia, and elsewhere,
tell of a hero who in bird form stole the celestial fire, and it is
obvious that to reach Heaven Prometheus must have been provided with
the means of flight. There appears to be a distinct connexion between
the fire-stealing myth and that of the thunder-bird. These animistic
conceptions of the thunder prepared the way for an anthropomorphic
presentation of the deity who wielded the bolts of Heaven, or launched
the lightning spear; and if we examine the attributes of certain
thunder-gods in the state of transition between the animal and the
human form, we shall find that they retain evidences of their bird-like
origin. Thus Uitzilopochtli, the great lightning-and war-god of the
Aztecs, bears a name signifying that in primitive Aztec legend he was
regarded as a bird pure and simple. Going farther afield in America, we
find that Yetl, the thunder-god of the Thlinkeets, borrowed the wings
of a supernatural crane, with which he flew about, as did Odin and Sin
in Scandinavian and Haida in Indian myth. In Vancouver the thunder
is represented by a bird, Tootah. The Hindu thunder-god, Indra, not
only steals the heavenly liquor, as do many bird-gods, but in order
to procure it he takes the shape of a quail. In other mythologies, in
those of Greece and Scandinavia, for example, Zeus and Thor, who wield
the thunder, have become too greatly humanized, if such a term may be
employed, to display any original bird-like characteristics, if they
ever possessed them. In passing it may be well to note briefly the
apparatus of the thunder-god, the machinery by which he creates the
noise of thunder. As has been said, the thunder-bird among the North
American Indians effects this by the beating of his wings. Another
American thunder-god causes the noise by beating a sheet of metal.
The thunder of Thor is produced either by the blows of his mighty
hammer or the rumbling of the wheels of his chariot drawn by goats. The
reverberation of Jupiter's thunder proceeds from bolts forged for him
by the Titans in the bowels of Mount Etna.

An important attribute which we may observe here is the thunder-god's
lightning spear or arrow. This is the attribute of the Greek Apollo,
of at least half a dozen American thunder-deities, of Indra, and of
the Egyptian goddess Neith. En-lil, the thunder-god of Babylonia, was
also a god of war. As patron of the chase and war, the thunder-god
is often represented with a spear or bow and arrow, as, for example,
the Mexican god Mixcoatl, who is supposed to range far and wide in
search of game. Often, too, the lightning flash is symbolized by the
serpent; Uitzilopochtli's robe was interwoven with serpents, and he
possessed a drum of serpent's skin, while 'Mixcoatl,' just cited,
signifies 'Cloud-serpent.' Besides symbolizing the lightning flash,
the serpent in its connexion with the thunder-god may typify the rain
which invariably accompanies thunder; and because of his character as a
fertilizing agent and bearer of the rain which causes vegetable growth,
the thunder-god is at times regarded as a deity of agriculture, even
in his character of war-god. The Roman Mars so appears in the song of
the Arval brethren, a sect whose duty it was to guard crops and herds,
and as Mars Sylvanus he was invoked by the Roman farmer in the yearly
lustration of his land. The Mexican Uitzilopochtli, too, was regarded
as a patron of agriculture.

As we have seen in the myth of Brounger, the thunder-god might be
connected in some manner with flint, from the circumstance that fire is
capable of being struck from that mineral.

A word is necessary upon the connexion of the thunder-god with rain and
with water generally. There are, of course, water-gods who have nothing
whatever to do with thunder, but a good many thunder-gods possess power
over not only the rain but the winds as well. Especially is this the
case in America.


Another striking example of the manner in which deities become
departmental is the sea-god or goddess. As the corn-god presided over
the harvest of the land, so does the sea-god preside over the harvest
of the waste of waters. Later, when men build ships and go down to the
sea in them, the powers and functions of these marine deities become
greatly magnified. The circumstance that sea-gods or goddesses are
almost invariably represented as having a fish's tail is accounted
for in the same manner as the possession of animal characteristics by
certain land deities is explained--that is, just as gods derived from
eponymous or totemistic animals are sometimes represented as men with
animal heads or animal attributes, so deities which were once eponymous
fish are represented partly in anthropomorphic, partly in piscine form.

The following are instances of this. The coast Peruvians before the
Spanish Conquest regarded the sea in much the same manner as many
primitive peoples regard the land--that is, as a nourishing mother.
Indeed they called it Mama-cocha, or Mother Sea, because it yielded
the fish which formed so large a part of their subsistence. The whale
was a general object of worship all along that coast, and the skate,
sea-dog, dory, crab, and sardine, especially the last, were worshipped.
It was not the individuals of those finny tribes which the Peruvian
Indian adored, but the original eponymous fish which engendered all
the others of the same species, and sent them periodically into the
ocean, according to the season of each, to be food for man. All over
North and South America the belief held good that animals, birds, and
fish have eponymous counterparts who act as kings, chiefs, or even gods
to the others of their species.[4] In course of time such fish-gods
became anthropomorphic. In Peru, again, we find in connexion with the
worship of the fish-bearing lake Tuncapata the adoration of an idol
called Copacahuana, carven out of a bluish-green stone (obviously
the symbol for water) and having the body of a fish, surmounted by
a rude human head. She was venerated as the giver of the fish with
which the lake abounded. To come to classical examples, Poseidon and
Neptune were usually represented as half man, half fish, bearded and
grasping a trident. Oannes or Ea, the sea-god of Babylonia, is also
figured as a man with a fish's tail, below which human feet peep out.
Like many corn-gods or gods of the harvest, he was also a culture-god,
and, according to Berosus, taught the natives of the Babylonian shore
the arts of life. Thus, as the corn-plant itself, as we shall see,
is capable of evolving into a god, so was the fish--so intimate and
complete is the connexion between religious conceptions and the food
supply. In one representation of a deity executed as a bas-relief on
the walls of Nimrud, and on a signet from Nineveh, we notice that the
head and shoulders of the deity are covered by the skin of a fish,
remnant of his piscine origin, just as many anthropomorphic gods, once
animal in form, have the skins of their animal prototypes cast about
the upper parts of their statues.

It was probably not until men took to the sea that the god of the
waters developed to the full his protective or destructive tendencies.
Thus the raising or allaying of storms, the granting of favourable
winds and prosperous voyages, would naturally vest in the sea-god,
once navigation became general. His relation to the other gods would
then become a mere matter of mythic rearrangement and a niche would be
found for him in the pantheon. As the sun-god or wind-god was supreme
in the sky, so was he supreme in the waters; nor did his dominion stop
with the sea alone, but every estuary, lake, river, or even brook, was
beneath his sway and peopled by his subjects.


The deity who presides over the moon is in most pantheons full of
mythological interest. Primitive ideas of the luminary regarded it
as equally the cause of vegetable growth with the sun; the work
which was accomplished by the sun through the day was, argued early
man, continued by the moon at night. All primitive time-reckoning
was calculated on a lunar basis, and as time-reckoning among savages
assumes the character of science, this would assist in bestowing
upon the spirit which presided over the moon a certain reputation for
wisdom. Primary lunar spirits are not as a rule very high in the scale
of god-like evolution.

As the moon is associated with the dampness and dews of night, an
ancient and widespread belief connects her with water. Thus in folklore
she is universally associated with rain; but she has also an evil
reputation as the distributer of miasmatic fogs and exhalations,
because these more generally make their appearance during the hours of
her reign. The Mexicans invariably confounded the words _citatli_, the
moon, and _atl,_ water. As representing water, the universal mother,
the moon was regarded as the patroness of fertility. She is also often
the goddess of love, ruling over the hours of night, generally sacred
to courtship. With some of the more primitive peoples she is the mother
of ghosts and all such nocturnal abominations.

Her connexion with wisdom has been touched upon. This is perhaps best
instanced in the Egyptian moon-god Thoth, who, probably because he was
supposed to keep the records of the Nile inundations, supposed to be
under the influence of the moon, was also regarded as god of writing,
and therefore, by inference, as god of wisdom. Diana, or Artemis, the
chaste huntress of the Greeks and Romans, is, like many moon-goddesses,
a patron of human fertility and love. But she is more; as one of the
ancient moon-goddesses, and therefore connected with the old lunar
calendar, she was a deity of the harvest. Her character as a huntress
is a little obscure. Some water-goddesses, like the Egyptian Neith,
possess the lightning arrow, symbolical of the thunder-cloud from
whence the lightning issues; and it may be that Artemis possessed the
bow and arrow simply because she was sister of Apollo, and, by analogy,
if the sun-god possessed these weapons, so must his sister, the
moon-goddess. Again, it may be that she possessed them as a goddess of
death. It is strange to find a lunar goddess connected with the chase,
that _rôle_ being nearly always filled by the thunder- or wind-god.[5]


We have seen how a compact for their mutual weal arose between men and
the gods when an agricultural elementary basis had been arrived at; but
ere the evolution of departmental deities of agriculture, and of the
various grains and plants cultivated, these appear to possess separate
guardian spirits. In dealing with the great class of corn-spirits Sir
James Frazer distinguished between the spirit and the god as follows.
He says:

"As distinguished from gods, spirits are restricted in their operations
to definite departments of nature. Their names are general, not
proper; their attributes are generic rather than individual. In other
words, there is an indefinite number of spirits of each class, and the
individuals of a class are all much alike, they have no definitely
marked individuality, no accepted traditions are current as to their
origin, life, adventures, and character. On the other hand, gods, as
distinguished from spirits, are not restricted to definite departments
of nature. It is true that there is generally some one department
over which they preside as their special province, but they are
not rigorously confined to it. They can exert their power for good
or evil in many other spheres of life. Again, they bear individual
or proper names, such as Ceres, Proserpine, Bacchus, and their
individual characters and histories are fixed by current myths and the
representations of art."

The corn-spirit, so characteristic of early agricultural life, is still
to be found in present-day folklore. The researches of Mannhardt and
Sir James Frazer have supplied numerous illustrations of the manner in
which a sheaf at harvest-time is connected with certain rites, more
or less similar in all countries, associated with the corn-spirit
or corn-mother. Thus it was thought in primitive days that a spirit
resided in or watched over the growing grain. In time this animistic
conception gave way to the idea of a departmental god of agriculture.

Strangely enough the agricultural departmental deity does not
represent the same generally uniform characteristics as do other
departmental gods, for example, gods of the sun or gods of the sea.
A likeness exists between the myths of Demeter in Greece, Osiris in
Egypt, and Ishtar in Babylonia, and it is probable that these three
myths had a common origin; but there is no likeness between the
person or attributes of the three gods alluded to. The establishment
of agriculture may be--indeed, often is--part of the earthly
accomplishment of a culture-god. Thus Apollo was guardian of the crops
and even of the herds, and during the mythical reign of Quetzalcoatl in
Mexico the ears of maize were so heavy that one might scarce be carried
by a strong man. Agricultural gods too frequently have a connexion
with the Underworld, for seed grows to fruition there. Thus among the
Greeks, Persephone, the wife of Aides or Hades, was unquestionably
symbolic of the corn sleeping in winter and coming to fruition in the
warm months.


The mother of Persephone, or Kore, was Demeter--_i.e.,_ 'corn-mother,'
Persephone was carried off and wed by Hades, king of the dead, was
sought for in his dark country by her mother, and was restored, with
the proviso that she must spend so many months every year underground
with her husband. Many circumstances in the myth of Osiris point to
the same corn-spirit origin. The wanderings of Isis in search of her
dismembered husband Osiris throughout the length and breadth of Egypt,
the passing of the son of the King of Byblos through the magic flame,
as well as other incidents, well illustrate the similarity.

Why do Demeter and Isis wander up and down, the one seeking for her
daughter, the other for her husband? Persephone and Osiris in one of
his many forms--probably his original form--both represent the sown
seed of the wheat, lying dormant for so long, but later resurrected
and recovered. Who or what then are Demeter and Isis? It is one of the
tenets of animism that the animistic spirit must, as spiritualists
would say, 'materialize' in some natural object, and the wandering
spirit may thus be enticed by the sorcery of the shaman into the
fetish object. When the corn is cut down, whither does the corn-spirit
betake itself? It must of necessity become a wanderer on the face of
the earth until once more the corn sprouts to give it house-room. If
our conclusions are correct, the myths of Demeter and Isis are late and
elaborated versions of an early animistic belief that the corn-spirit
was driven from its shelter until the green shoots attracted it
once more. The myth is most surely an animistic one, and perhaps
one of the oldest myths in the world. Demeter and Isis are deified
corn-spirits seeking the corn (Persephone and Osiris) for the purpose
of rematerializing it. Persephone and Osiris represent the corn-seed as
well as the corn-spirit, as is obvious from their sojourn underground.


Fire-gods are usually associated with the sun, but later achieve a
certain domestic and mechanical significance. Undoubtedly fire with
its movement and appearance of life would be regarded in animistic
times as informed by spirit. In later times there is a departmental
god of fire who is often an artificer in metals. This idea could not,
of course, have arisen before the discovery of the uses of metals, so
that departmental deities of this type must be of comparatively recent

In India the great god of fire was Agni, who ruled not only over the
lightning and other fires of Heaven, but over those of earth as well.
He is occasionally confounded with Indra and Varuna, but in the earlier
hymns he is the fire which men prize as an indispensable boon. He bears
up sacrifices from men to the gods under the dark canopy of the smoke
which arises from the sacred fires below. He is occasionally credited
with the wisdom of the sun-god himself. He is 'black-backed' and
'many-limbed'; like the serpent, he is laid hold of with difficulty; he
is the regulator of sacrifices, and is regarded as the guide of souls
in the unseen world.

Among the Greeks, Hephæstus was regarded as the youngest of the gods.
He was a lame and ugly dwarf, the son of Zeus and Hera, who was so
displeased with his appearance that she wished to cast him out
of Olympus. He took her part in a quarrel with Zeus, however, and
thereupon the king of Heaven cast him from the heights to the island of
Lemnos, where he fell maimed and wounded. He was the great artificer
of the gods, an incomparable worker in metal. He raised the shining
palaces of Olympus, forged the marvellous armour of Achilles, and
made the necklace of Harmonia. Strangely enough, in Norse myth and
English legend, Regin, the smith of the _Volsunga Saga_, and Wieland
the Smith are stunted, lame, or limping, and forge arms for heroes,
as did Hephæstus for Achilles. In his Latin shape of Vulcan Hephæstus
is pre-eminently a god of fire, the conception becoming associated
with volcanic districts, especially with Mount Etna in Sicily, where,
with the Cyclops for his assistants, he laboured in the bowels of the

Among the Scandinavian peoples, Loki appears to be the god of fire.
He also is limping and misshapen, but one does not espy in him the
mechanical ability of the Greek god. He sides now with the gods, now
with the giants, thus typifying the twofold nature of fire as a friend
and an enemy. He was probably grafted on to an older fire-demon.

In ancient Mexico Xiuhtecutli, the fire-god, was known as Huehueteotl,
eldest of the gods, not youngest, as in Greece and India. His body was
flame-coloured, and his face black and surmounted by a head-dress of
green feathers. A yellow serpent sprawling across his back typified
the serpentine nature of fire. He was also the god of the domestic
hearth, and on rising in the morning all Mexican families offered him
an oblation of food and drink.

From the examples given above it will be seen that although in one
instance, that of Hephæstus, the possession of the thunderbolt is
assumed, most fire-gods are truly departmental in character, and do
not appear to have any connexion with the lightning. They arise from
a purely animistic conception of fire, and later become personified.
Occasionally we find them, as in the case of Agni, and Yibil, the
Babylonian fire-god, partially absorbed by, or having the attributes
of, the sun-god.


Although gods of the winds appear in nearly all mythological systems,
in many instances they are neither more nor less than representatives
of tempest or gentle breeze. In some mythologies, as in that of Egypt,
they occupy a subordinate position, whereas in others the wind, usually
as the tempest, is one of the attributes of the supreme god of the
pantheon. Odin is undoubtedly in one of his aspects a god of storm and
in later folklore figures as the 'Wild Huntsman.' In Mexico, too, the
great god Tezcatlipoca was also known as Yoalli Ehecatl, or 'Lord of
the Night Wind.' In some mythologies, as in those of India and Greece,
every aspect of the wind, whether in gale or breeze, is personified and
deified. Of course it is easy to see that wind, like fire, with its
movement and utterance, either gentle or boisterous, would lend itself
to primitive animistic interpretation. It would seem a very living
thing indeed to early man, and was identified with the source of life

In the Vedas of the Hindus we find Veyu personified in the gentler
movements of the air, answering in this respect to the Latin Favonius
or the Greek Pan. The more violent forces of the wind in Hindu myth are
represented by the Maruts, who overturn trees and uproot forests, roar
like lions, and shake the mountains. The rain is their raiment, and
they are swift as Thor. When the tempest rages, the wayfarer may hear
the cracking of their whips as they pass overhead. But their onslaught
over and their purpose accomplished, they resume the shape of new-born
babes. They are the crushers or grinders, the children of Rudra, father
of the winds, who is also the deceiver, the master-thief; this last
attribute possibly symbolizing the shifting nature of wind.

In Greek myth we have the gentle or intermittent wind in Pan, who
breathes melody through his reed pipes. As the lover of Pitys, the
nymph of the pine-tree, he aroused the jealousy of Boreas, the rude
north wind, who hurled the maiden from a rock, and changed her into the
tree which bears her name. Boreas is the son of the night and the dawn,
and is usually figured in Greek myth as dwelling in the north. In the
_Odyssey_ all the winds are placed by Zeus under the charge of Æolus,
to whom is entrusted the power of rousing or quelling them at will.
The more vigorous wind from the west was known as Zephyros, husband of
Podarge, the white-footed wind who drives before her the snow-white

The fury of the storm occasionally furnishes the conception of a god of
war, as in the case of the Greek Ares. Tezcatlipoca in Mexico, too, was
called 'the Slayer.'


The earth was personalized by early man, who regarded it as the parent
of all things dwelling thereon. A union is often conceived of between
the Sky-Father and the Earth-Mother; and myths from centres as far
apart as Egypt and New Zealand tell how these primeval parents were
separated. No mere fetishism would suffice for the primeval idea of
the earth-Early man seems to have regarded it as his mother, just as
the late Mr Andrew Lang insisted that the primeval conception of a
heavenly father who dwelt in the sky was prior to animistic belief
or, at any rate, came before the polytheistic stage. As previously
suggested, the primitive All-Father of Mr Lang may have been no other
than the primitive sky-god. In a striking passage in his _Introduction
to Mythology and Folklore_ Sir George Cox says: "It may seem almost
a paradox to say that the thought of the earth as a producer and
restorer would be more likely to lead men on to the thought of a power
transcending nature, or the forces which we see at work in the outward
world, than the impressions made on the human mind by the phenomena of
the daily or nightly heavens; but on further thought we can scarcely
fail to see that the continuance of life on the earth, the unceasing
restlessness, the perpetual change which is going on upon its surface,
the sensitiveness of all vegetable and animal substances to the
influences which act upon them from without, must inevitably lead men
on to something more like a scheme of philosophy than any which could
be furnished by mere phrases describing the phenomena of the day or the

The Earth-Mother, then, would be practically universal. We should
expect to find her everywhere, and indeed we do. In the Vedic hymns the
earth is the bride of Dyaus; in Greece she was known as Gæa. Bacchus or
Dionysus is certainly a deity with an earth connexion. In Mexico more
than one god was connected with the earth--for example, Tepeyollotl,
usually worshipped in a cavern, and a god of earthquakes. The name
signifies 'Heart of the Mountain' and evidently has a seismic meaning.
In the worship of Centeotl, the maize-god, there was a ceremony called
the Niticapoloa, or 'Tasting of the Soil,' consisting in raising a
little earth on one finger to the mouth and eating it, thus achieving
communion with the earth-god. The Spanish conquerors left it on record
that the soil was in reality tasted, and not merely placed to the lips.
Like the Babylonians, the Aztecs sometimes painted the Earth-Mother as
a woman with countless breasts; the Peruvians called her Mama Allpa,
'Mother Earth,' and the Caribs addressed her as Mama Nono, 'the Good
Mother from whom all things come.' In the dialect of the Algonquin
Indians the word for 'earth' is derived from the same root as those
for 'mother' and 'father,' but the Western Algonquin tribes call her
Nokomis, 'My grandmother.' The Passes of Brazil believed that the
earth was a great creature, that the rivers and streams were its
blood-vessels, and that it circled round the sun, turning first one
and then the other of its sides toward that luminary in order to keep
itself warm--not a bad guess for the early scientist to make! In some
parts of Europe we find the small progeny of the dwarfs connected with
the cult of earth.

These teeming animistic spirits are not confined to Europe, however. An
earth-goddess in German tradition is the benignant Holda, who preserves
the life of the winter-bound world under a mantle of snow.

A group of interesting earth-deities were known to Latin Italy. Ops, a
goddess of wealth and fertility, the wife of Saturnus, corresponded to
the Greek Rhea. The Latin genii were also closely akin to the dryads
and hamadryads of the Greeks, who inhabited groves and trees. Pilumnus
and Picumnus too were worshipped as rural deities, but they seem to
have had a more agricultural than terrestrial significance, Pomona was
the Latin goddess of fruit-trees and their fruits, and Fauna and Faunus
were also rural deities. The satyrs in Greece were cognate types.

Before agriculture proper with its especial pantheon was evolved
the forces of fertility may have received a considerable amount of
adoration and were probably in some measure connected with the spirit
of earth. Rites innumerable were carried out to secure the revival of
vegetation in spring, most of them having for object the rejuvenation
of nature. In some instances trees, and in others human beings, were
sacrificed. Such gods, for example, as Adonis, who was worshipped in
Western Asia, Osiris, and Attys represented the decay and revival of
vegetation. Much of their ritual is still performed by the peasantry of
all parts of Europe, and has been collected by the labours of Mannhardt
and Sir James Frazer. It may be interesting to give here an account of
such an observance which came beneath the writer's own notice.


At South Queensferry, near Edinburgh, a strange annual ceremony took
place, the chief actor in which was known locally as 'the Burry Man,'
It was supposed to commemorate the passage of Malcolm Canmore and Queen
Margaret to and from Edinburgh and Dunfermline, but this is local
surmise and nothing more. It can be traced back at least to the period
of the last battle of Falkirk, for an old woman of eighty, whose mother
was thirteen years of age at the date of that battle (1746), stated
that the observance had been unaltered from that time till her own
old age. It took place on the day preceding the annual fair, usually
about the second week in August, and was long upheld by the boys of
Queensferry. On the day preceding the fair the Burry Man, always a
stout fellow or a robust lad, was dressed in loosely fitting flannels,
and his face, arms, and legs thickly covered with burrs. He carried
two staves at arm's-length, and these, as well as his hands, were
beautifully adorned with flowers. Thus accoutred, he was led from door
to door by two attendants, who assisted him in upholding his arms by
grasping the staves. As each successive door was reached a shout was
raised and the inhabitants came out to bestow greetings and money on
the Burry Man, the amount collected being equally divided and spent at
the fair by the youths who kept up the custom. On some occasions two
persons were thus selected and led in procession from door to door--the
one being styled the 'King' and the other the 'Queen,' it is thought
in allusion to the passage of the royal couple through the borough. It
used to be a popular belief that when this quaint custom was abandoned
misfortune would befall the town.

Now what did the Burry Man represent? The custom was certainly a relic
of a most ancient festival. The Burry Man of South Queensferry was as
elsewhere the representation in human form of a tree- or plant-spirit,
for these often are represented in anthropomorphic or man-like shape
in folk festival. In Bohemia on the fourth Sunday in Lent the girls
of the villages go into a wood, cut down a young tree, fasten to it a
puppet dressed in white clothes to look like a woman, and with this
figure go from house to house collecting gratuities and singing that
they bring summer into the village, summer being represented as the
spirit of vegetation, returning or reviving. At Thann in Alsace a
girl called the 'Little May Rose,' dressed in white, carries a small
may-tree covered with garlands and ribbons, and she and her companions
collect gifts from door to door, singing as they go. In Lithuania the
lads of the village choose the prettiest girl, swathe her in birch
branches, and dress her as the May. In Brie, in the Île de France, a
lad is wrapped in leaves and is called 'Father May.' In the Frankenwald
mountains, in Northern Bavaria, on the 2nd of May a man is enveloped
in straw from head to foot to personify a sheaf, and in this guise he
dances round a tree erected before the local tavern, after which he is
led in procession through the streets, which are adorned with sprigs of
birch. In Thuringia as soon as the trees begin to grow green in spring
the children choose one of their playmates, around whom they twine
leaves till only his shoes peep out from the greenery. Two of them
lead him about so that he may not stumble or fall, and they address
him as the 'Little Leaf Man.' In Carinthia on St George's Day a young
fellow called 'Green George' is clad from head to foot in green birch
branches. In England, too, a good example of these leaf-clad mummers
is 'Jack-in-the-Green,' who walks enshrouded in a framework of wicker
covered with holly and ivy and surmounted by flowers and ribbons. Many
other examples could be given.

The Burry Man, like these, is a representation of the spirit of
vegetation, the festival of which has survived in South Queensferry
from early times, just as it has elsewhere.

[1] Of course 'departmental' gods may possess many attributes, some of
these entirely foreign to their character-in-chief, and drafted upon
it by the circumstances of myth, politics, or amalgamation with other

[2] Of course these deities may have an animistic origin; indeed, they
certainly do have, so that the idea of sacrifice will not seem novel.

[3] As I have shown elsewhere (p. 95), Professor Rendel Harris has
brought a good deal of proof in favour of a hypothesis that Apollo was
the god of an apple cult; but it was not as such that he was known to
the later Greeks, whatever he may have been originally--an instance, if
such were needed, that the solar story finds its way into the myths of
gods of all types.

[4] The study of these eponymous animal-gods will one day certainly
throw a flood of light upon the obscure question of the origin of

[5] See the illuminating remarks of Professor Rendel Harris upon this
goddess in his _Ascent of Olympus_, pp. 56 _sqq._



Myths can to a large extent be classified, and most important myths may
be grouped under one of the following heads:

    Creation myths (creation of the earth and man).
    Myths of the origin of man.
    Flood myths.
    Myths of a place of reward.
    Myths of a place of punishment.
    Sun myths.
    Moon myths.
    Hero myths.
    Beast myths.
    Myths to account for customs or rites.
    Myths of journeys or adventures through the Underworld
      or place of the dead.
    Myths regarding the birth of gods.
    Fire myths.
    Star myths.
    Myths of death.
    Food of the dead formula.
    Myths regarding taboo.
    'Dismemberment' myths (in which a god is dismembered).
    Dualistic myths (the good god fighting the bad).
    Myths of the origin of the arts of life.
    Soul myths.

The first five classes are treated in this volume, in separate chapters
or otherwise, according to their importance. Sun myths have already
been dealt with individually, as have culture-hero or hero myths,[1]
moon myths, beast myths, ritual myths, and birth of gods myths, which
leaves for discussion in this chapter fire myths, star myths, myths
of death, myths regarding taboo, 'dismemberment' myths, and dualistic


Fire myths are of two descriptions: those which relate to the
destruction of the world by fire and those which tell how fire was
stolen from heaven by a demigod, hero, or supernatural bird or other
animal. Of the first class it is surprising what a large proportion
come from the American continent. In the Old World we have the Jewish
idea of a universal conflagration of the 'last day' (not unknown to the
childhood of the present generation), the Norse belief that fire should
end the heavens and the earth, and (according to Seneca) the Roman
idea that some such fate would ultimately overtake the world of men
and things; but it is to America that we must go for really striking
and picturesque myths of the destruction of the earth by fire in whole
or part. Thus the Arawaks of Guiana tell of a dreadful scourging by
fire sent upon them by the Great Spirit Aimon Kondi, from which the
survivors escaped by taking refuge in underground caverns. Monan,
the creator of the Brazilian Indians, vexed with mankind, resolved
to destroy the world by fire, and would have succeeded had not Irin
Magé, a crafty wizard, extinguished the flames by a heavy rain-storm.
The Aztecs at the end of each cycle of fifty-two years dwelt in dread
lest the period for the destruction of the earth by fire had at last
arrived, and the Peruvians believed that following an eclipse the world
would be wrapped in devouring flames. In North America the Algonquin
Indians believe that at the last day Michabo will stamp his foot upon
the earth, and lo! flames will spring up and devour it. A similar
belief was held by the Pueblo Indians and the ancient Maya of Central


Another class of fire myth is that in which a supernatural being,
usually a bird, steals fire from Heaven and brings it to earth for the
benefit of mankind. The best-known example of this type of myth is that
which recounts how Prometheus brought fire from Olympus in a hollow
cane or tube. As has been shown elsewhere in this volume, the myth is
almost universal, and the reader is referred to the comparative table
at the end of this chapter.


The numerous star myths, the general character of which is of fairly
uniform type throughout the world, deal less with single stars than
with groups of stars. Where Heaven is the original theatre of creation
and the ancestor-land to which the spirits of the forefathers return,
as stars, the constellations are, so to speak, the illustration of
the cosmogonic legend, the images of objects, animals, persons, which
appear therein. Other constellations are formed by their readily
perceived similarity to objects and persons, and a myth is invented
in explanation. These things are brought into connexion with one
another and woven into a narrative, in which one idea gives rise to
others. The conception and meaning of such pictures is naturally very
varied among individual races, but on the other hand very similar
where the characteristic forms and groupings of the constellations
must suggest the same or related ideas to independent observers. The
constellations which belong to this class are, for example, Orion,
the Cross, the Pleiades, the Great Bear, and the Milky Way. Ideas
of the Pleiades as heaps of grain, swarms of small animals, birds,
bees, kids, or groups of people playing, are universal. But nowhere
is the star myth so original or striking as in South America, and as
the constellation legends of that sub-continent are but little known,
we shall furnish the reader with some account of them in preference
to the more hackneyed star tales of Europe and Asia. The Pleiades
are thus wheat among the Bakairi, dwarf-parrots among the Moxos and
Karayas, bee-swarms among the Tupi, and other tribes. Only among the
Makusi in the south is a parallel to be found to the widely spread
North American myth which supposes the Pleiades to be children carried
off to Heaven while playing in a dance. The Southern Cross is very
variously treated. The idea of its being the tracks of an emu seems to
be limited to South America, but is very widespread there, for example,
among the Bororos and Karayas, inhabitants of the steppe districts. As
the four outstanding stars of the Cross lie in the Milky Way, one may
identify the four-eyed jaguar which in the Yurakare myth escapes the
vengeance of the hero Tin, and, calling upon the moon, is raised to
Heaven. The Milky Way, as the most prominent appearance in the darkened
heavens at night, receives universal attention, but has given rise to
the most diverse traditions. Like the Bushmen and other Africans, the
Bororos and Karayas believe that the Milky Way is an ash-track. This,
as well as the guanaco track of the Patagonians, resembles the 'Path
of the Gods' of the Romans, the bird-track of the Esthonians, and the
'Jacob's ladder' of the medieval church, while the Milky Way seems to
be considered as a path of souls by some of the Bolivian nations. Its
conception as a stream or lake has not been definitely traced in South
America. On the other hand, it appears that its peculiar branching
formation caused it to be likened to a tree, and this belief finds
expression in the Arawak legend of the world-tree of Akawiro, which
bore not only all known fruits and plants, but also all organic beings.
Among the central Caribs of the Bakairi it is a hollow tree-stem,
such as is used among them as a drum, its roots spreading southward
and apart from each other. In its neighbourhood the first acts of the
mythical twin-heroes Keri and Kame were performed, and among the Caribs
even to this day are co be seen living animals which originally issued
from its trunk.

The distinctly circumscribed, sharply defined shape of Orion is
compared by the Indian with familiar objects of a rhomboidal form, or
similar shaped animals. The Bakairi see in this constellation a dried
stack of manioc, the Karayas a beetle, the Ipurinas a turtle, and
so on. In myths he appears first in connexion with the neighbouring
star-groups of the Pleiades and Hyades (Aldebaran). He then becomes
among the Indians a mighty hunter who follows a female, our Pleiades,
as Orion in the Greek legends pursues the daughters of Pleion, with
whom he had fallen in love, until they are changed by Zeus into a swarm
of doves. So in the legend of the Caribs of Guiana the hunter Seriko
goes after his faithless wife Wailya, whom the Tapir (Hyades group) had
taken away from him.

The wifely relationship of the Pleiades with the Indian Orion is also
met with under the sign of Seuci (Tupi), Ceiguce (Amazonia), though it
cannot be said that the idea can solely be ascribed to the Tupi. The
myth tells how a girl of the kindred Uaupe race (Tariana or Temiana)
flees her village in order to escape from the local marriage customs
and enters the house of a Yacami chief who takes her to wife. She
brings forth two eggs, from which a boy and girl are hatched, both
ornamented with stars. The girl, decked with seven stars, is Seuci;
the boy, Pinon, is girdled with a star-serpent, and perhaps Orion's
belt. The children return home with their mother, where the boy secures
recognition by the performance of prodigies, such as the slinging of
giant stones.


Myths of death are obviously ætiological--that is, manufactured _ad
hoc_, to account for death, usually regarded by primitive peoples as
an unnatural event, due to magic or the breaking of a taboo or the
neglect of some ritual act. Thus death was let loose upon the world by
the breaking of the taboo or prohibition which had been placed upon
the opening of Pandora's box. The apple myth of Adam and Eve bears
similar evidences of the idea of taboo. An Australian myth recounts how
a woman approaches a forbidden tree and thus meets her doom. Several
myths relate how death came into the world through the agency of
Night--obviously a connexion of mortality with the phenomenon of sleep.
Thus a Polynesian myth tells how Mani tried to pass through Night, but
a little bird sang and awakened the night-monster, who ate Mani up. In
Southern India it is believed that "the death-snake bites while God
sleeps." A Central African story tells that when sleep was unknown in
the world a woman offered to teach a man how to sleep. She held her
victim's nostrils so hard that he could not breathe, but died.

Taboo myths of importance are not so numerous as might be supposed.
Perhaps the chief is the tale of Cupid and Psyche. In its later form
the bride was forbidden to look upon her husband, but her curiosity
overcame her fear and she beheld his face, with dire results. This myth
is, of course, a legacy from an age when for various reasons it was
taboo for a woman to see her husband for some time after her marriage,
just as it is to-day among certain African peoples, the 'reasons' being
to neutralize the dangers supposed to be attendant upon the matrimonial
state. Akin to this is the name-taboo, found in the story of Lohengrin,
whose bride is not permitted to ask the name and rank of her lord and
master, the reason being that the real name, like the soul, is part
of one's personality and that it is dangerous for any other person to
know it, a pseudo-name being commonly employed among many savage races.
Thus, if the names of certain evilly disposed supernatural beings are
known and pronounced their power disappears, as in the well-known
stories of Tom-tit-tot and Rumplestiltskin.


It has been thought that such dismemberment myths as those of Osiris,
Dionysus, and Demeter, the Algonquin Lox, and the Polynesian Tangoroa
have their origin in a primitive custom, the dismemberment of a human
victim, who was buried in the corn-fields and supposed to renew his
life in the harvest following his burial. It is considered that such a
practice gave birth to the myth of Osiris in Egypt and became symbolic
of resurrection. The practice is probably connected in some manner with
the almost universal savage custom of preserving the bones of the dead
for the owner, who at some future period will desire to claim them.


Dualism is the belief in opposing good and evil deities, and is found
in connexion (1) with such peoples as have advanced far on the path of
theological thought and progress, (2) with races whose original beliefs
have been sophisticated by those of more civilized peoples. A good
example of the first is the widely known Persian myth of Ormuzd and
Ahriman. The second class is well illustrated by the myth of Joskeha
and Tawiscara, already alluded to in dealing with sophisticated myths.


The following tables have been compiled for the purpose of bringing
together the most important types of myth and indicating their
geographical incidence. It is not pretended that these are in any way
exhaustive, but much care has been taken in their compilation and it is
hoped that they will assist the student of myth as a ready reference to



      Zeus, Poseidon, Pluto, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia, children
      of Cronus. All but Zeus were swallowed by their father
      when infants and all disgorged by him at one time full

      Perseus, son of Zeus and Danaë.

      The Dioscuri (Zeus visits their mother Leda as a swan).


      Agni, both son and father of the gods--son of Heaven and
      earth--begotten by the sky, the clouds, and the dawn--born
      among men, in Heaven and in the waters.

      _Algonquins_. Manibozho, born of a virgin.

      _Hurons_. Joskeha, born of a virgin.

      _Mexicans_. Quetzalcoatl, born of a virgin; Uitzilopochtli
      (ball of feathers falls from heaven into his mother's

      _Peruvians_. Viracocha, born of a virgin.

      _Thlinkeets_ (N.W. America). Yetl's mother by advice of
      friendly dolphin swallows pebble and sea-water.

      _Uapès_ (Brazil). Jurapari (his mother drinks fermented

      BEAST MYTHS. Beasts and birds are credited with divine or
      semi-divine attributes.


      Io as a cow chased into Egypt by gad-fly sent by Hera.
      Amphitryon chases the Cadmean fox with the Athenian dog.
      Bellerophon slays the Chimæra with the help of Pegasus.
      The Centaurs.

      _Caribs_ (Antilles). The ibis.

      _Chinooks_ (Colombia River). Blue Jay.

      _Aschochimi Indians_ (California). The coyote.

      _Thlinkeet Indians_. Yetl the raven.

      _Australians_. Pund-jel the eagle-hawk.

      _Ahts Indians_ (Vancouver Island). Tootah, the
      thunder-bird, universal mother.

      _Banks Islanders_. Marawa the spider.

      _Tinneh or Déné Indians_ (Hare-skins). Miraculous dog is

      DUALISTIC MYTHS (the good god combating the bad god). This
      idea is very general, being found practically all over
      the world. The creator of all good things is constantly
      thwarted by the evil spirit or principle, who, for every
      good and beautiful thing that the beneficent god makes,
      produces a corresponding evil.


      Osiris and Set or Apep. Ra (light and goodness) and Apep
      (darkness and evil).

      _Babylonians_. Merodach and Tiawath.

      _Persians_. Ormuzd and Ahriman.


      Zeus and Typhon.
      Apollo and Python.
      Perseus and the Gorgon.

      _Teutons_ (Scandinavia).

      Thor and Loki.
      Sigurd and Fafnir.

      _Hindus_. Indra and Ahi or Vritra.

      _Hottentots_. Gaunab (bad) and Tsui-Goab (good).

      _Algonquin Indians_.

      Michabo or Manibozho and the prince of serpents.
      Great Manitou, whose heart is the sun, made men.
      His wife, the moon, brought disease and death to the race.
      Glooskap and Malsum.

      _Huron Indians_. Joskeha and Tawiscara.

      _Incas_ (Peru). Piguerão (day) and Apocatequil (night).

      _Iroquois Indians_. Enigorio and Enigohatgea (Good Mind
      and Bad Mind).

      _Thlinkeet Indians_. Yetl and Khanukh.

      _Tupi-Guarani_ (Brazil). Aricoute (darkness) and Tamandare

      _Australians_. Pund-jel, the eagle-hawk (good) and the
      Crow (bad).

      _Pentecost Islanders_. Tagar (good) and Suque (bad).

      _Banks Islanders_. Qat and Tangaro Lologong (the Fool).

      DISMEMBERMENT MYTHS. In which a god or demigod is torn
      to pieces and the parts widely scattered and afterward

      _Egyptians_. Osiris and Isis.


      Orpheus and Eurydice.
      Dionysus and Demeter.
      Medea and Pelias.

      _Finns_ (_Kalevala_ epic). Lemminkainen and his mother.

      _Rumanians_. Frounse Werdye and Holy Mother Sunday.

      _Russians_. Morevna and Koshchei.

      _Bushmen_. Moon cut down by sun; piece left grows.

      _Antis Indians_ (Brazil). See Spence, _Dictionary of
      Non-Classical Mythology_, p. 43.

      _Algonquins_. The demon Lox.

      _Caribs_. Story of their ancestor.

      _Dindje_. Crow killed by the Navigator.

      _Pawnee Indians_. Pa-hu-ka-tawa.

      _Zuñi Indians_. Woman beloved by the sun becomes the
      mother of twins.

      _Madagascar_. Ibonia, joiner together and life-giver.

      _Polynesians_. Tangaroa and Mani.

      CREATION MYTHS. In these there is nearly always a vast
      world of waters, over which broods the creative agency,
      who by a spoken word, force of thought (will-power), or by
      sheer physical labour creates the earth, or, more often,
      raises it from the midst of the watery abyss.

      _Babylonians_. Bel or Merodach forms Heaven and earth from
      the two halves of the body of Tiawath.

      _Persians_. Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda), father and creator.

      _Greeks_. Uranus (Heaven-Father) and Gæa (Earth-Mother)
      beget all things.

      _Teutons_ (Scandinavia). Ginnungagap, the gulf existent.
      World made from body of the giant Ymir.

      _Finns (Kalevala_ epic). Eagle hatches the land.

      _Hindus_. Brahma, in his avatar as the boar, raised the
      earth on his tusks from out the waters and then began his
      work of creating.

      _Japanese_. Izanagi and Izanami (creative pair).

      _Bushmen_. Cagn (the praying mantis) created the world.

      _Zulus_. Unkulunkulu (the great ancestor-creator).

      _Ahts Indians_ (Vancouver Island). Quawteaht was the
      'framer of all things.'

      _Algonquin Indians_. Michabo or Manibozho, the Great Hare,
      creates all things.

      _Arawaks_ (Guiana). Aluberi (from Alin 'He who makes').

      _Athapascan Indians_. Yetl, the omnipotent raven,
      descended to the ocean from Heaven, and the earth rose.

      _Incas_ (Peru). Ataguju is creator of all things.

      _Iroquois Indians_. Divine woman falls on turtle (earth).

      _Mexicans_. Tonacatecutli breathes and divides the waters
      of the heavens and earth.

      _Navaho Indians_. Ahsonnatli 'the Turquoise Hermaphrodite'
      creates Heaven and earth.

      _Oregon Indians_. Coyote is creator.

      _Peruvians_. Mama-cocha (the whale), 'Mother Sea,' was the
      mother of mankind.

      _Pawnees_. Ti-ra-wa or A-ti-us (Atius Tirawa) is creator.

      _Papagos Indians_ (Gulf of California). Coyote or
      prairie-wolf acts as creator.

      _Kiche Indians_. Nothing but the sea and sky, stillness
      and darkness. Nothing but the Maker and Moulder, the
      Hurler, the Bird-serpent. Under sea, covered with green
      feathers, slept the mothers and the fathers. Hurakan
      passes over the abyss, calls "Earth," and land appears.

      _Tacullies_ (British Columbia). Say earth is mud spat out
      of mouth of a pre-existing musk-rat.

      _Tinneh or Déné Indians_. The dog is creator.

      _Tzentals_ (Chiapas). Alaghom or Iztat Ix, she who brings
      forth Mind--the mother of Wisdom--creatrix of the mental
      or immaterial part of nature.

      _Zuñi Indians_ (New Mexico). Awonawilona creates the world.

      (See chapter on cosmogony.)

      MYTHS OF THE ORIGIN OF MAN. These are closely allied to
      the creation myths. Man is usually made out of clay or the
      'dust of the earth' by a supernatural being, who sometimes
      moistens the clay with his or her own blood or sweat, and
      imparts to it 'the breath of life.' There is sometimes a
      prior creation of wooden men, who are found wanting.

      _Greeks_. Prometheus makes man and woman, Deucalion and

      _Hindus_. Brahma or Prajapati makes man.

      _American Indians_ (generally). Man is evolved from
      coyotes, beavers, apes, or issued from caves.

      _Aztecs_. After the destruction of the world Xolotl
      descends to Mictlan and brings a bone of the perished
      race. The gods sprinkle this with blood and from it emerge
      the progenitors of the present race.

      _Hurons_. Joskeha makes men.

      _Karaya Indians_ (Brazil). Kaboi led their ancestors from
      the Underworld.

      _Peruvians_. Apocatequil digs up men from the Underworld
      with a golden spade.

      _Kiches_ (Central America). The gods in council create
      man. At first they make wooden men, the remainder of whom
      turn into monkeys. They then create the present race from
      yellow and white maize.

      _Zuñi Indians_. Janauluha leads men from the Underworld to
      the world of day.

      _Bushmen_. Men came out of a cave.

      _Zulus_. Men came out of beds of reeds.

      _Australians_. Pund-jel makes two men from clay, one with
      straight and one with curly hair (bark). He dances round
      them and breathes life into them.

      _Australians_ (Dyiere). Men came out of wattle-gum tree.

      _Maoris_ (New Zealand). Tiki makes man of clay.

      _Polynesians_ (Mangaians). The woman of the abyss makes
      man by tearing from her right side a piece of flesh, which
      becomes Vatea, father of gods and men.

      _Melanesians_. Qat makes man.


      _Babylonians_. Story of Sargon.

      _Hebrews_. Story of Moses.


      Perseus, son of Danaë. His father Zeus descended in a
      shower of golden rain.

      Heracles, son of Zeus, who deceives the mother of Heracles
      by pretending to be Amphitryon, her absent husband.

      _Romans_. Story of Romulus.

      _Celts_. Sagas and romances of Arthur, Merlin, and Beowulf.

      _Indians_. Saga of Rama, in _Ramayana_.

      _Mexicans_. Uitzilopochtli, myth of his birth.

      _Kiches_. Hun-Apu and Xbalanque in the _Popol Vuh_.

      _Peruvians_. Ataguju, the creator, begets Guamansuri, who
      seduces a woman, who gives birth to two eggs. From these
      emerged Apocatequil and Piguerão. Apocatequil was prince
      of evil and the most respected hero of the Peruvians.

      (See also Culture Myths for other examples.)

      MYTHS OF FIRE-STEALING. In which a supernatural
      being--usually a bird--steals fire from Heaven and brings
      it to earth for the benefit of mankind.

      _Greeks_. Prometheus.

      _Vedas_. Matarisvan.

      _Bretons_. Golden-crested wren.

      _Normandy Peasantry_. The wren.

      _Ahts Indians_ (Vancouver Island). Quawteaht.

      _Athapascan Indians_ (N.W. America). Yetl the raven.

      _Cahrocs and Navaho Indians_. The coyote.

      _Murri Tribe_ (Gippsland, Australia). Man who became a

      _Thlinkeets_ (N.W. America). Yetl the raven.

      _New Zealanders_. Mani.

      _Andaman Islanders_. A bird.

      A god or culture-hero teaches man the useful arts. The
      outstanding figures in such myths are:

      _Egyptians_. Osiris.
      _Babylonians_. Oannes.
      _Greeks_. Prometheus, Bacchus, Cadmus.
      _Celts_ (Irish). Nuada of the Silver Hand.
      _Teutons_ (Scandinavia). Wieland the Smith.
      _Japanese_. Okikurimi.
      _Bushmen_ (South Africa). Cagn.
      _Zulus_. Unkulunkulu.
      _Algonquins_. Michabo or Manibozho.
      _Antis Indians_ (Brazil). Son of Ulé.
      _Arawaks_. Kamu.
      _Carayas_. Kaboi.
      _Caribs_. Tamu (grandfather).
      _Cherokees_. Wasi.
      _Chiapas_. Votan.
      _Hurons_. Joskeha.
      _Maya_ (Yucatan). Itzamna, Kukulcan.
      _Mexicans_. Quetzalcoatl.
      _Orinoco Tribes_. Amalivaca.
      _Paraguayans_. Zumé.
      _Peruvians_. Manco Ccapac; Viracocha arises from the depths
      of Lake Titicaca on a civilizing mission.
      _Toltecs_. Hueymactzin.
      _Australians_. Pund-jel.
      _Melanesians_. Qat.

      TABOO MYTHS. Myths which relate the existence of, origin
      of, and necessity for certain taboos or forbidden things.

      _Hebrews_. Adam, Eve, and the eating of the apple.

      The myth of Cupid and Psyche.
      Actæon turned into a stag for observing Artemis when

      _Teutons_ (Scandinavia). Lohengrin and Elsa (name taboo).

      _Ningphos_ (Bengal). Think they became mortal by bathing
      in tabooed water.

      _Australians_. Death introduced by woman going to tabooed

      MYTHS OF DEATH. To account for death, regarded by some
      savage races as unnatural. Usually some custom or taboo is
      supposed to have been broken, or some ritual neglected or
      mismanaged, and death has followed. The reasons given by
      the different races are as follows:

      _Greeks_. Death comes from lifting cover off Pandora's box.

      _Hindus_. Yama is pioneer to the Otherworld.

      _Southern India_. Death (snake) bites men while God
      sleeps. God makes dog drive away snake; thus dogs howl at
      approach of death.

      _Ningphos_ (Bengal). Think they became mortal through
      bathing in tabooed water.

      _Bushmen_. The mother of the little hare is dead. The moon
      strikes the hare on its lip, splitting it in two, and
      tells it that its mother is really dead and will not live
      again as the moon does.

      _Hottentots_. The moon sends the hare to men to tell them
      that they will live again as he (the moon) does, but the
      hare forgets the message and tells men that they will
      surely die, for which mistake the moon burns a hole in his

      _Namaquas_. The hare and the moon's mother.

      _Central Africans_. Sleep unknown; woman offers to teach
      man how to sleep; holds his nostrils; man never wakes;
      dying made easy.

      _Hurons_. Atænsic (the moon) destroys the living,

      _Australians_. Woman goes near a forbidden tree.

      _New Zealand_. Mani was not properly baptized.

      _Fiji Islanders_. The moon desired that men should die and
      live again like herself, but the rat opposed this, and so
      men die as rats do.

      _Polynesians_. Mani tries to pass through Night, a little
      bird sings, night awakes, snaps up Mani, and "so men die."

      _Banks Islanders_. Qat, Mate, Panoi, and Tangaro the Fool.
      Tangaro the Fool is set to watch the path taken by Death,
      that men may avoid it, but makes the mistake of pointing
      to men the path to Hades as that of the path of the upper
      world. So men have, perforce, to follow this road to Panoi
      and the dead.

      _Pentecost Islanders_. Tagar makes man die for live days
      only and live again, but Suque causes them to die for ever.

      _Solomon Islanders_. Koevari resumes cast-off skin.

      SOUL MYTHS, (1) In which the idea is found that a person's
      life, heart, or soul may be separated from him as a
      life-token or life-index, and that so long as this is kept
      safe or remains concealed, its owner is immortal. (2)
      Other myths dealing with the passage of the soul to the

      _Egyptians_. Story of the two brothers.

      _Hebrews_. Samson and Delilah.


      Meleager and the firebrand.
      Misus, King of Megara, and his purple hair.
      Souls ferried across the Styx by Charon.

      _Romans_. Silvia and the son of Mars.

      _Yorkshiremen_. 'Brig o'Dread, nae braider than a thread.'

      _Mohammedans_. Reach Paradise across bridge composed of a
      single hair.

      _Cingalese_. Story of Thossakin, King of Ceylon, who kept
      his soul in a box when he went to war with Rama.

      _Ainu_ (Japan). The 'inao.'

      _Tinneh or Déné Indians_. Etwa-eke and his stone hatchet.

      _Malays_. Tree-trunk across boiling lake to 'Island of

      _Eskimos_. Kujanguak and his life-lock (hair).

      _Universal_. Belief in birth-trees.

      FIRE MYTHS. In which the world is destroyed by fire.

      _Romans_. Seneca (see _Natur. Questiones_, iii, cap. 27).

      _Hebrews_. Bible belief.

      _Teutons_ (Scandinavia). The "Völuspá": "The sun shall
      grow dark, the land sink in the waters, the bright stars
      be quenched, and high flames climb Heaven itself."

      _Algonquins_. Michabo will stamp his foot, flames will
      devour the earth and only a chosen few (probably one pair)
      be left to re-people the new earth.

      _Arawaks_ (Guiana and N. Brazil). Aimon Kondi.

      _Aztecs_. Extinguished every fire on last night of each
      cycle of fifty-two years. Then priests made new fire by
      friction. If this failed the end of the world had come.

      _Maya_. World to be destroyed by ravening fire and the
      gods with it.

      _Peruvians_. Amantas taught that some day an eclipse would
      veil the sun for ever, and earth, moon, and stars be
      wrapped in devouring flame.

      _Tupi-Guarani_ (Brazil). Monan, Irin Magé.

      FLOOD MYTHS. A great deluge in which Heaven or the earth
      or both Heaven and earth are submerged in water and all
      living things drowned with the exception of one individual
      or family favoured by the god or gods.

      _Egyptians_. Tem, Temu, Atem, Atmu.

      _Babylonians_. Ut-Napishtim, the Babylonian Noah.

      _Hebrews_. Noah.

      _Persians_. Yima.

      _Greeks_. Deucalion and Pyrrha.

      _Teutons_ (Scandinavia). Bergelmir and Ymir.

      _Hindus_. Manu, son of the sun-god Vivasvat.

      _Ahts Indians_ (Vancouver Island). Wispohahp.

      _Algonquin Indians_. Michabo or Manibozho.

      _Antis Indians_ (Brazil). Yurukares.

      _Arawaks_. Sigu, Marerewana.

      _Aschochimi Indians_ (California). Coyote.

      _Caribs_ (Antilles). The ibis.

      _Hare Indians_. Kunyan 'the intelligent,'

      _Mexicans_. Atonatiuh (the Water-Sun) descends upon the

      _Muyscas_ (Bogota). Chia or Chin, the moon, floods earth
      out of spite.

      _Peruvians_. Re-creation after deluge at Tiahuanaco.

      _Tupi-Guarani_ (Brazil), Monan, Irin Magé.

      MYTHS OF A PLACE OF REWARD (the celestial garden of God).

  _Country or Race_            _Place of Reward_
  Egyptians                         Aalu
  Persians                          Alburz
  Greeks                            The Elysian Fields
  Romans                            The Fortunate Isles
  Celts                             The Otherworld beyond or beneath
                                    the sea. Tir-nan-og, Avalon, etc.
  _Teutons_ (Scandinavia)      Valhalla
  _Vedas_                      Agni (or Pushan) conducts the souls
                                      to the abodes of bliss
  _Buddhists_                  Nirvana
  _American Indians_           Happy hunting grounds
  _Aztecs_                     Tlalocan 'the east, the terrestrial
                                      Paradise.' Tamoanchan, in the west
  _Caribs_                     Braves feast in happy islands served
                                      by Arawak slaves
  _Tonga Islanders_            Island Paradise of Bolotu


  _Country or Race_       Name of place of      Name of presiding
                                  punishment         Deity  or Deities

  _Egyptians_               Amenti               Osiris
  _Babylonians_             Sheol or Aralu       Allatu or Nergal
  _Greeks_                  Tartarus, Hades      Pluto and Persephone
  _Celts_                   Annwn
  _Teutons_ (Scandinavia)   Hel                  Hel
  _Ladaks_ (Tibet border)   Bad men become
  _Japanese_                Land of Yomi         Eruma-o
  _Caribs_                  'Bad' men (i.e.
                                 cowards) become
                                 slaves to Arawaks
                                 in barren land
                                 beyond the mountains
  _Gallinomero,_            'Bad' men become
  _Californian Indians_          coyotes
  _Guatemalans_ (Kiches)    Xibalba              Hun-Came and
  _Mexicans_                Mictlan              Mictlantecutli and
  _Peruvians_                                    Çupay


      _Egyptians._ Osiris.

      _Babylonians_. Descent of Ishtar through the Underworld.


      Orpheus and Eurydice.
      Persephone and Pluto.
      The punishment of the Danaides.
      Alcestis is allowed to return from the Underworld.
      Bacchus brings his mother Semele from the Underworld
      to Olympus.

      _Medieval Britain_. The Harrying of Hell.

      _Japanese_. Izanagi descends into Hades in search of his
      wife Izanami.

      _Chinooks_ (N.W. America). Blue Jay in the Supernatural

      _Kiches of Guatemala_. Adventures of Hun-Apu and Xbalanque
      in the _Popol Vuh_.

      FOOD OF THE DEAD FORMULA. An individual 'dies' or is
      kidnapped, proceeds to the Otherworld, and, having
      partaken of the food there, is unable to return to earth.

      _Babylonians_. Adapa loses his chance of becoming immortal
      by refusing the food and drink of life offered him by Anu,
      as he feared it was the food of the dead of which he had
      been warned by his father Ea.

      _Greeks_. Persephone.

      _Finns_. In the _Kalevala_.

      _Chinooks_ (North American Indians, N.W. coast). Found in
      shamanistic practice.

      SUN MYTHS. The principal figures in sun myths are the

      _Egyptians_. Ra and Horus.
      _Accadians_. Amar-utuki or Amar-uduk.
      _Babylonians_. Merodach and Shamash.
      _Greeks_. Apollo (Helios) and Phaethon.
      _Celts_. Lug.
      _Hindus_, Agni.
      _Aztecs_. Piltzintecutli.

      MOON MYTHS. These are closely associated with flood myths.
      In many of the Indian myths deluges are said to have been
      caused by the moon falling on the earth. She is nearly
      always held to be the goddess of water, dampness, dews,
      rain, and fogs. Moon and water are both mythical mothers
      of the human race.

      _Egyptians_. Isis. All maladies were traced to her anger.
      _Babylonians_. Sin, the moon-god.
      _Greeks_. Selene.
      _Romans_. Diana or Luna.
      _Algonguins_. Moon, night, death, cold, sleep, and water (same word).
      _Aztecs_. Constantly confounded Citatli and Atl (moon and
      water). Painted moon two colours--beneficent dispenser of
      harvests and offspring, goddess of night, dampness, cold,
      ague, miasma, and sleep; the twin of Death. Also known
      as Metztli, Yohualticitl, or Teciztecatl.
      _Brazilian Indians_. Mothers shield infants from rays which
      are said to cause sickness.
      _Hidatsa_. Midi is both moon and water.
      _Hurons_. Atænsic is the moon (also water).
      _Muyscas_. Chia the moon floods earth out of spite,
      _Peruvians_. Mama Quilla,
      _Bushmen_. Sun cuts moon down by degrees, but leaves a piece
      from which a new complete moon grows, and so on.

      STAR MYTHS. In both primitive and later myths the stars
      are metamorphosed men, women, or beasts; in some cases
      ancestors, in others gods. The belief that the good at
      death become stars is very widely spread.

      _Egyptians_. Plutarch was shown Isis and Osiris in the sky.
      _Babylonians_. Many gods are represented by stars. Babylonian
      astrology favoured the evolution of gods into planets.
      _Greeks_. The Pleiades are young girls.
      Castor and Pollux are young men.
      _Hindus_. Prajapati and his daughter become constellations.
      _Bushmen_. Metamorphosed men.
      _American_ (Chinook Indians, N.W. Coast). Aqas Xenas Xena.
      _Indians_ (North American). Ursa Major is a bear.
      _Mexicans_. Quetzalcoatl becomes a planet--our Venus.
      _Peruvians_. Beasts, anthropomorphic gods, and stars are
      confounded together.
      _Eskimos_. Regard stars as ancestors.
      **_Australians_. The Pleiades are young girls.**

      South American star myths have not been added to this list
      as full reference has been made to them in the text.

      MYTHS TO ACCOUNT FOR CUSTOMS OR RITES (ætiological myths),
      such as the general belief that water is the mother of all
      things. This accounts for sacred fountains, lakes, and
      rivers, baptism, etc. A few examples only can be given.

      _Greeks_. Myth of Dionysus and Pentheus, to explain
      festival of the former. See Euripides, _The Bacchæ_.

      _A-Kikuyus_ (Bantu tribe, E. Africa). To explain sacrifices
      to Ngai (rain-god).

      _Todas_ (Southern India). To explain why the sacred
      dairyman sacrifices calf to Notirzi.

      _Blackfeet Indians_. To explain sun-dance.

      _Pawnee Indians_. To explain skull-dance, buffalo-dance,
      bear-dance (dramatized myths).

      _Wiradthuri tribes_ (Australia). Dhuramoolun and the

      _Almost universal_. Belief in ghosts accounts for funeral
      rites to prevent ghosts' return.



The efforts of man to account for his existence and that of the
world in which he lives--in a word, for the origin of Heaven and
earth and all that is in them--are among the most deeply interesting
manifestations of human mental activity and progress. To his
speculations the science of comparative mythology has given the name
cosmogony (Greek _cosmos_, 'world,' and _gignesthai,_ 'to be born'), of
which the best literal translation is 'world-birth.'

Before speculating upon the reason for the similarity between
cosmogonic myths in all parts of the globe, or how far they have been
coloured one by another or sophisticated by modern culture, we shall
find it profitable to study the chief creation tales themselves, so
that when we come to discuss their likeness or unlikeness we shall be
well furnished with examples in support of the views we adopt. This
course is wise in the study of tradition; for unless the student is
well furnished and abundantly fortified with 'instances,' he will never
thoroughly apprehend the greater issues of traditional science, never
fully grasp its spirit.

Some one has said that quotations are "ready armour, offensive and
defensive," and the simile might well be employed of 'instances' in
folklore and mythology, where the ability to cite copious parallels is
of the highest assistance in argument.

With this in view, then, we shall look at the most important of
those tales which relate to the creation of the world and man before
analysing them.


India furnishes manifold ideas concerning the origin of the universe
and man. At the first, says the _Rig-Veda_, there was neither
non-entity nor entity, and all was water wrapped in gloom. "Then
desire (Karma) arose in it, which was the primal germ of mind ...
the bond between entity and non-entity." The following hymn from the
_Rig-Veda_,[1] the vigorous translation of which is by the late Dr
Muir, gives some account of the process:

    There was neither aught nor naught, nor air, nor sky beyond.
    What covered all? Where rested all? In watery gulf profound?
    Nor death was then, nor deathlessness, nor change of night and day.
    The One breathed calmly, self-sustained; naught else beyond it lay.

    Gloom, hid in gloom, existed first--one sea, eluding view.
    That One, a void in chaos wrapt, by inward fervour grew.
    Within it first arose desire, the primal germ of mind,
    Which nothing with existence links, as sages searching find.

    The kindling ray that shot across the dark and drear abyss--
    Was it beneath? or high aloft? What bard can answer this?
    There fecundating powers were found, and mighty forces strove--
    A self-supporting mass beneath, and energy above.

    Who knows, who ever told, from whence this vast creation rose?
    No gods had then been born--who then can e'er the truth disclose?
    Whence sprang this world, and whether framed by hand divine or no--
    Its lord in heaven alone can tell, if even he can show.

This hymn is among the earliest speculations of the Hindus regarding
cosmogonic phenomena, and its pious conclusion did not satisfy the
cravings of future still more inquisitive generations. In the _Purusha
Sakta_ of the _Rig-Veda_, admittedly of considerably later origin than
the above composition, the following creation myth is found:

"Purusha has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. On
every side enveloping the earth, he overpassed (it) by a space of
ten fingers. Purusha himself is this whole (universe), whatever has
been and whatever shall be. He is also lord of immortality, since
(or when) by food he expands. All existences are a quarter of him,
and three-fourths of him are that which is immortal in the sky. With
three-quarters Purusha mounted upward. A quarter of him was again
produced here. From him was born Viraj; and from Viraj, Purusha.
When the gods performed a sacrifice, with Purusha as the oblation,
the spring was its butter, the summer its fuel, and the autumn its
(accompanying) offering. From that universal sacrifice sprang the Rich
and Saman verses, the metres and the Yajush; from it sprang horses
and all animals with two rows of teeth, kine, goats, and sheep. When
(the gods) divided Purusha, into how many parts did they cut him up?
The Brahman was his mouth, the Rajanya was made his arms, the being
(called) Vaisya was his thighs, and the Sudra sprang from his feet. The
morn sprang from his soul (manas), the sun from his eye, Indra and Agni
from his mouth, and Vaya from his breath. From his navel arose the air,
from his head the sky, from his feet the earth, from his ear the (four)
quarters; in this manner (the gods) formed the worlds."

Now follows an extract from the _Satapatha Brahmana,_ which gives the
words used at the creation: "(Uttering) 'bhuh', Prajapati generated
this earth. (Uttering) 'bhuvah,' he generated the air; and (uttering)
'svah,' he generated the sky. This universe is co-extensive with
these worlds. Saying bhuh,' Prajapati generated the Brahman; (saying)
'bhuvah,' he generated the Kshattra; (and saying) 'svah,' he generated
the Vis. All this world is as much as the Brahman, Kshattra, and Vis.
(Saying) 'bhuh,' Prajapati generated himself; (saying) 'bhuvah,' he
generated offspring: (saying) 'svah,' he generated animals. This world
is so much as self, offspring, and animals."

The _Taittiriya Brahmana_ says, "This entire (universe) has been
created by Brahma," and gives an account of the creation of the Asuras,
Pitris (or fathers), and gods. "Prajapati desired 'May I propagate.' He
practised austerity. His breath became alive. With that breath (asu)
he created Asuras. Having created the Asuras, he regarded himself as a
father. After that he created the fathers (pitris). That constitutes
the fatherhood of the fathers. Having created the fathers, he
reflected. After that he created men. That constitutes the manhood of
men. He who knows the manhood of men becomes intelligent. To him, when
he was creating men, day appeared in the heavens. After that he created
the gods."

The _Satapatha Brahmana_ relates the creation of men and animals.
"Prajapati was formerly this (universe) only. He desired: 'Let me
create food, and be propagated.' He formed animals from his breaths,
a man from his soul, a horse from his eye, a bull from his breath, a
sheep from his ear, a goat from his voice. Since he formed animals from
his breaths, therefore men say: 'The breaths are animals,' The soul is
the first of breaths. Since he formed a man from his soul, therefore
they say: 'Man is the first of the animals and the strongest.' The soul
is all the breaths; for all the breaths depend upon the soul. Since he
formed man from his soul, therefore they say: 'Man is all the animals';
for all these are man's."

In another passage this Brahmana gives quite a different account.
Purusha, as the soul of the universe, was alone. Hence "he did not
enjoy happiness. He desired a second. He caused this same self to fall
asunder into two parts. Thence arose a husband and wife. From them men
were born. She reflected: 'How does he, after having produced me from
himself, cohabit with me? Ah! let me disappear!' She became a cow, and
the other a bull; from them kine were produced. The one became a mare,
the other a stallion; the one a she-ass, the other a male-ass. From
them the class of animals with undivided hoofs was produced. The one
became a she-goat, the other a he-goat; the one an ewe, the other a
ram. From them goats and sheep were produced. In this manner pairs of
all creatures whatsoever, down to ants, were created."

The Puranas are very minute and specific as regards the facts of
creation. Indeed the first book of the _Vishnu Purana_ is largely taken
up with accounts of the cosmogonic process. According to this venerable
script Brahma first existed in the form of Purusha (spirit) and Kalu
(time). "Next proceeded two other forms, the discreet and indiscreet;
and Kala (time) was the last. These four--Pradhana (primary or crude
matter), Purusha (spirit), Vyakta (visible substance), and Kala
(time)--in their due proportions, are the causes of the production of
the phenomena of creation, preservation, and destruction. The supreme
Brahma, the supreme soul, the substance of the world, the lord of all
creatures, the universal soul, the supreme ruler Hari (Vishnu), of his
own will having entered into matter and spirit, agitated the mutable
and immutable principles, the season of creation having arrived, in the
same manner as fragrance affects the mind from its proximity merely,
and not from any immediate operation upon mind itself; so the supreme
influenced the elements of creation."

After giving an account of the creation, or rather the evolution
of the elements, the _Vishnu Purana_ goes on to say: "Then (the
elements) ether, air, light, water, and earth, severally united with
the properties of sound, and the rest existed as distinguishable
according to their qualities as soothing, terrific, or stupefying; but
possessing various energies, and being unconnected, they could not
without combination create living beings, not having blended with each
other. Having combined, therefore, with one another, they assumed,
through their mutual association, the character of one mass of entire
unity; and from the direction of spirit, with the acquiescence of the
indiscrete principle, intellect, and the rest, to the gross elements
inclusive, formed an egg, which gradually expanded like a bubble of
water. This vast egg, compounded of the elements, and resting on the
waters, was the excellent natural abode of Vishnu in the form of
Brahma; and there Vishnu, the lord of the universe, whose essence is
inscrutable, assumed a perceptible form, and even he himself abided in
it in the character of Brahma. Its womb, vast as the mountain Meru,
was composed of the mountains; and the mighty oceans were the waters
that filled its cavity. In that egg were the continents and seas and
mountains, the planets and divisions of the universe, the gods, the
demons, and mankind.

"Affecting then the quality of activity, Hari the lord of all, himself
becoming Brahma, engaged in the creation of the universe. Vishnu,
with the quality of goodness and of immeasurable power, preserves
created things through successive ages, until the close of the period
termed a Kalpa; when the same mighty deity, invested with the quality
of darkness, assumes the awful form of Rudra, and swallows up the
universe. Having thus devoured all things, and converted the world
into one vast ocean, the supreme reposes upon his mighty serpent couch
amidst the deep: he awakes after a season, and again, as Brahma,
becomes the author of creation."


Turning to ancient Egypt, that dark ocean of myth and mystery, we find
in papyrus 10,188, housed in the British Museum, an account of the
origin of things written for a priest of Panopolis, called Nes-Amsu,
about the year 312 B.C. This papyrus contains many things, chiefly
of magical import, but its interest for us is that it introduces two
varying accounts of the Egyptian idea of the creation, both of which
are a little vague and obscure. In the first, the god Neb-er-tcher,
a form of Ra the sun-god, tells how, through his godlike might, all
things came into being. Taking upon himself the shape of Khepera, the
deity symbolizing creation, he made himself and other "new things," in
fact, a whole world, "out of his mouth." The place where he performed
this feat was the watery abyss of Nu, from which certain considerations
lead us to suppose he took his _materials_. Says Khepera:

"I found no place there (in Nu) whereon I could stand. I worked a charm
upon my own heart. I laid a foundation in Maa. I made every form. I was
one by myself, I had not emitted from myself the god Shu, I had not
spit out from myself the goddess Tefnut. There was no other being who
worked with me."

Thus Khepera alone was creator; nor did he have any solid surface to
stand upon during the performance of his creative act. To remove the
difficulty he worked a charm upon, or made a foundation in, his own
heart--that is, by some magical act he found a foothold in the abyss
while he produced all things. "There came into being multitudes of
things from the things of what was produced"--that is, the objects
which had emanated from Khepera continued the work of creation of their
own accord. Khepera then produced the god and goddess Shu and Tefnut.
Men and women then appeared from his tears. The sun was manufactured
from an eye of the god, as was the moon. Plants and creeping things
began to grow and move on the surface of the earth, so that they cannot
have been included in the original 'things' created by the god. Finally
Shu and Tefnut produced the pantheon of the elder gods, and these
deities multiplied offspring in the earth.


The second version of the creation myth which the papyrus contains
makes Osiris take the place of Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher. He is
described as the _pautet pautti_, or the very essence of primeval
matter, and the source of all created things. Osiris utters his own
name as a word of power, and "forthwith came into being under the form
of things which were created." Like Neb-er-tcher, he took the form of
Khepera as proper to the act of creation. "I came into being," he says,
"from primeval matter, and I appeared under the form of multitudes of
things from the beginning. Nothing existed at that time, and it was I
who made whatsoever was made. I was alone, and there was no other being
who worked with me in that place. I made all the forms under which I
appeared by means of the god-soul which I raised up out of Nu, out of
a state of inertness." Thus we here have the 'god-soul' existent in a
quiescent condition in the watery abyss of Nu, awaiting the magic call
of Osiris. The next point in which the second account differs from the
first is the making of man, made, it states, after the reptiles and
creeping things.

Thus in these Egyptian creation myths we have a primeval watery mass
peopled by a self-begotten and self-existent god who, uttering his own
name as a spell, straightway came into existence, then awakened the
slumbering soul of the abyss into activity, and by the utterance of
magic words created a place or foundation upon which he could stand.
Having done this, he proceeded to the creation of other gods, the
light, human beings, vegetation, and creeping things. Of birds, beasts,
and stars we find nothing in the myth, which is one of the earliest
Egyptian conceptions of the creation of the world and of mankind.[2]

But as new races entered Egypt as immigrants or conquerors, other myths
descriptive of the creation process arose and flourished side by side.
There was, for example, that of Ptah, a potter, pictured in the ancient
drawings as shaping the world-egg, the 'cosmic egg,' upon his wheel. He
is said, in connexion with Khnemu, to have carried out the active work
of creation at the command of Thoth. Khnemu was also regarded as the
personification of creative force, who formed the cosmic egg from the
Nile mud and shaped man on his potter's wheel; and there were others,
all more or less akin.


The earlier Egyptians regarded the sky as a flat metal plate or slab,
each end of which rested upon a mountain, the mountain of sunrise,
Bakhau, and the mountain of sunset, Manu. In the late Pyramid texts the
sky is rectangular, each corner resting upon a pillar. In still later
times those four pillars were looked upon as the sceptres of the gods
who presided over the four quarters of heaven. At a comparatively late
date the idea arose that the sky required support in the centre as well
as at its angles, and the god who acted as central prop was called Heh.
In another myth the heavens were shaped like a man's head, with the sun
and moon for eyes, and hair supporting the sky.

Another Egyptian idea of the sky is that the goddess Nut, who
personified the upper regions, formed the vault of the heavens by
arching her body over the earth and resting her weight upon her hands
and feet. Sometimes the god Shu stands beneath, as if to support her.
Over her body are scattered the stars. She was alluded to as 'the Lady
of Heaven,' and is uniformly painted blue in imitation of the sky she


The principal version of the Babylonian account of creation is
preserved in the 'Seven Tablets of Creation' now in the British
Museum, and originally part of the library of Assurbanipal at
Nineveh. In this epic we find two primeval deities, Apsu and Tiawath,
personifications of the great abyss, and their son, Mummu. The gods are
created, Anu, En-lil, and Ea, but their 'ways' are displeasing to Apsu
and Tiawath, who rebel. The original male deities speedily succumb to
the power of the new gods. Tiawath creates a host of grisly monsters
and carries on unrelenting war against the enemy, but in terrific
combat with Marduk or Merodach she is annihilated. She is cut in twain,
and from one half of her body Merodach forms the heavens. He divides
the upper waters from the lower, makes dwellings for the gods, creates
the sun, moon, and stars, and ordains their courses. At this juncture
a portion of the account (Tablet V) is missing, but in the next slab
Merodach is said to have been decapitated, and with his own blood and
bone to have made man. Berosus, a priest of Merodach, who lived in
the third century B.C., wrote a Greek history of Babylonia, which has
been lost, but is known in part from quotations by classical writers.
In this work he recounted the above myth, with some variation in the
names, and the additional statement that half of Tiawath's body formed
the earth.[3]

Tiawath, like the Egyptian Nut, personified the primeval abyss; in
fact, the name signifies the sea, Apsu, the name of her spouse, meaning
the deep. The sea was to the Semitic mind symbolical of chaos and
trouble, as witness the Scriptural promise, "and there shall be no more
sea." The strange monsters framed by the goddess of the abyss to combat
the gods of light are perhaps associated with the teeming gigantic life
the Semites believed the sea capable of propagating, one well-known
example of which is the 'whale' or 'great fish' of Jonah.


Chinese myth furnishes a fairly clear account of creation. During
countless scores of ages "nothing" condensed into unity, and the
Mighty Atom was formed. In the course of further ages the atom became
divided into the male and female principles, and the universe came into
being. But a more simple explanation was necessary for the uninitiated,
who were told that the two original elements became four, from the
co-operation of which sprang a deity called P'an Ku, whose function
it was to supply the constituents of the universe, His eyes became
the sun and moon, his breath the wind, his hair trees and vegetation,
his flesh the earth, his sweat rain, and the worms which sprang from
his decomposing body were men. The god Tien or Shang-ti is generally
regarded as the First Cause in Chinese myth; but although he may have
inspired the creation of the universe, he does not appear to have taken
any hand in its actual manufacture.


The Biblical story of creation is a very complete cosmogony, having
affinities with that of Babylon. We are told in Genesis i, 6, 7, 14, 15
that God divided the primeval waters into two parts by an intervening
'firmament' or platform, where he placed the heavenly bodies. This
division has some likeness to the Babylonian account of the cleaving
of the carcass of Tiawath into two parts, one of which kept the upper
waters from coming down. The words _te hom_, rendered in the English
Bible 'the deep,' closely resemble the name Tiawath, 'the sea,'
Here, then, we seem to possess irrefragable philological evidence of
early Babylonian influence upon Hebrew belief. Verse 2 of Genesis i
also mentions the earth-matter out of which the earth and all its
products were to appear. This is called _tohu_ and _bohu_, 'devoid of
living things,' and so would appear to equate with "the lands" that
"altogether were sea" of Babylonian cosmogony. The creation of light
which appears in Genesis is not found in the Babylonian account, but
the Babylonian creator, Merodach, is a god of light. In brief, the
Hebrew account of the successive stages of creation corresponds so
closely to that of Babylon that it is obvious one has been influenced
by the other--naturally the younger by the elder.


In the beginning, according to Japanese myth, Heaven and earth were
not separated and the In and Yo (the male and female principles) not
divided. The _Nihongi_ states that these male and female principles
formed a chaotic mass like an egg which was of obscurely defined limits
and contained germs. This egg quickened with life, the clearer part
became Heaven, while the more ponderable portion settled down as the
terrestrial sphere, like the floating of a fish sporting on the surface
of the waters. An object like a reed-shoot appeared between Heaven and
earth, and as suddenly became transformed into a god, Kuni-toko-tachi.
Other divine beings were born, but those responsible for most of "this
sorry scheme of things entire" were Izanagi (Male who invites) and
Izanami (Female who invites), concerning whom a very charming and
original myth was told.

They stood on the floating bridge of Heaven and peered downward into
the abyss below, asking each other what might exist so far below.
Puzzled, yet determined to probe the mystery of nothingness beneath
them, they thrust a jewel-spear downward, and touched the ocean.
Drawing the spear upward, some water dripped from it, coagulated, and
became an island, upon which the god and goddess set foot. Desiring
each other is husband and wife, although they were brother and sister,
they set up a pillar on the island, and by walking round it lost
their relationship. Izanagi walked round one way and Izanami the
other, exclaiming when they met: "Delightful! I have met with a lovely
maiden," and "I have met with a lovely youth." They espoused each
other, and Izanami gave birth to islands, seas, rivers, herbs, and
trees, and having produced the Great-Eight-Island Country was desirous
of bringing forth a living being who would be head of the Universe. In
due season Ama-terasu, the sun-goddess, was born, and the moon-god,
Tsuki-yumi. After the birth of the fire-god, however, Izanami suffered
so greatly that she betook herself to the land of Yomi or Hades and was
subsequently disowned by her husband.


The Iranian account of creation states that Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda), the
creator and good agency, fixed the duration of the world at twelve
thousand years. He created the spiritual world during the first
thousand of these. Ahriman, the principle of evil, did not know of his
existence until he espied the beams of light which emanated from his
glorious presence, but when he discovered it he commenced to plot evil.
During the next three thousand years Ormuzd created the world, the sun,
moon, and stars, plants, animals, and man. But Ahriman instituted a
malevolent counter-creation, and for every desirable thing Ormuzd made
Ahriman produced something evil, so that he became the creator of all
noxious plants and beasts of prey, diseases, and death. For a third
three thousand years a bitter strife was waged between the deities, but
with the birth of Zarathushtra or Zoroaster, a better day dawned for
the forces of good. The first animal created by Ormuzd was an ox, which
was assailed by the plagues and diseases of Ahriman and died; but from
its members sprang every description of cereal and plant, and two other
oxen. Ormuzd took of his sweat, and uttering words of power produced
the man Gayomart. He was also slain by Ahriman, but his seed having
fertilized in the earth, twins Mashya and Mashyana sprang up, at first
in the form of shrubs, and were the progenitors of humanity.


The Celtic idea of creation as exhibited in the Welsh work _Barddas_
provided for two primary existences, God and Cythrawl, standing
respectively for life and death. Cythrawl has his abode in Annwn, the
Abyss of Chaos. In the beginning naught was but God and Annwn. God
pronounced his ineffable name, and Manred, the primal substance of
the Universe, was formed. Manred was composed of thousands of teeming
atoms, in each of which God was present, and each was a part of God.
They were arranged in concentric circles representing the totality
of being, and the innermost, the first on which life gets a footing
on emerging from Annwn, is Abred. This is the stage of struggle and
evolution, the contest of life with Cythrawl. The second is Gwynfyd,
the Circle of Purity, in which life triumphs, and the last is Ceugant,
inhabited by God alone, with whom, presumably, it is merged.


The Scandinavian conception of creation bears, strangely enough, some
general resemblance to those of ancient China and India (Purusha
variant). In the beginning yawned the great abyss of Ginnungagap and
naught beside, save that it was flanked on the north by the dreary
realm of Niflheim, a region of cold and mist, and on the south by
Muspelheim, a region of fire. Flowing from Niflheim, the rivers called
Elivagar froze, and the ice formed upon them was covered with congealed
vapour. The hot air from Muspelheim beating upon the ice melted it,
and the drops of moisture so formed took life and became a giant
called Ymir, the progenitor of a race of gigantic beings. From the cow
Audhumla, formed at the same time, Ymir was nourished by four streams
of milk. For sustenance she licked the stones covered with brine and
moisture; and on the first day she licked there appeared a single hair,
on the second day a head, on the third an entire being, beautiful and
glorious to look upon, Buri, the grandfather of Odin. Ymir, while
asleep, engendered the race of giants from the sweat of his body, but
the grandchildren of Buri slew him, and all his progeny were drowned
in his blood, except Bergelmir and his wife, who saved themselves in a
boat His body was then cast into Ginnungagap, and from his blood were
created the sea and waters, from his flesh the solid earth, from his
bones the mountains, from his skull the dome of the sky, from his brain
the clouds, and from his eyebrows Midgard, the dwelling of the race
of men. Odin, Vili, and Ve are then spoken of (in a myth apparently
a variant) as raising the disk of the earth out of the waters. Later
Odin and his brothers find a couple of inanimate figures fashioned by
the dwarfs out of trees, and endowed them with the breath of life and
understanding, calling them Askr and Embla. These were the first human


In the Mexico of the Aztecs the sun was held to be the cause of all
material force, and the gods the holders of the fluctuating fortunes
of man. The sun, like man himself, was considered dependent upon food
and drink; and according to Aztec cosmology several suns had perished
through lack of provision, as had older races of men. The original sun
had no other nourishment than the water it absorbed from the earth,
and was thus nothing but a semi-liquid mass, designated Atonatiuh,
the 'Water-Sun.' It was supposed to have absorbed enormous quantities
during the course of centuries, and ultimately discharged the whole
over the world, causing a complete destruction of animal and vegetable
life. The Water-Sun was sometimes identified with Tlaloc, the god of
moisture, but this is a comparatively recent addition to the popular
account. The general destruction of terrestrial life by elementary
physical forces was accompanied in Mexican belief by myths of other
great catastrophes wrought by earthquake, wind-storms, or fire, and a
tale of the collapse of the vault of heaven itself.[4] These holocausts
were traced to some defect in the sun. Other accounts relate that
the gods Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, and Xiuhtecutli each attempted
the _rôle_ of the god of day without success. At length it became
evident that a special god must be created for the express purpose
of fulfilling the functions of the office, so the existing sun was
brought into being. However the Mexican myths may vary according to
the method by which the creation of the sun was achieved authorities
agree on these points of Aztec belief. The luminary was an animal which
was originally a man, but, by the action of fire, became transformed,
and received the intense vitality necessary for the performance of
his functions from the blood of the gods, voluntarily shed for that
purpose. The gods met at Teotihuacan in order to make a sun. They
kindled a mighty fire, and signified to the worshippers that whosoever
should first leap into it should become the new sun personified. One
of them sacrificed himself by doing so; and arose as the sun from the
midst of the fire, but was unable to ascend into the sky for lack of
strength. In order to give him the necessary motive force the gods
resolved to sacrifice themselves in the usual Mexican manner, by having
their hearts torn out. This was done by the god Xolotl, who had in this
way created man, and now performed the act of sacrifice upon himself.
The sun then ascended the sky.[5] According to another tradition,
the creation of man was subsequent to that of the sun. Men were only
created to be the food of the luminary, and were ordered to fight and
slay one another so that the sun might be supplied with food. The Mayas
of Yucatan increased the previous number of suns by one. Two solar
epochs terminated by devastating plagues known as the 'sudden deaths.'
So swift and mortal were the pests engendered by solar failure that
vultures dwelt in the houses of the cities, and devoured the bodies
of their former owners. The third epoch closed with a hurricane or
inundation known as _hun yecil,_ 'the inundation of the trees,' as all
the forests were swept away.

The Kiches of Guatemala had a very complete creation story, which may
be studied in the _Popol Vuh,_ their sacred book. To begin with, there
only existed the vast waste of primeval waters, in which slept "the
Old Ones covered with Green Feathers," the father-and mother-deities,
Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. Then came Hurakan the mighty, "he who hurls
below," a Kiche variant of the Aztec deity Tezcatlipoca. He commanded
light to be and the solid earth, by his spoken word. The gods in
council created animals. They carved mannikins out of wood, but these
were intractable and disobedient, so the gods resolved to destroy them.
They sent a deluge upon the world, and the mannikins were drowned.
The posterity of the few who were saved are the monkeys. After the
catastrophe the earth-god Vukub-Cakix (Macaw) and his progeny gave more
trouble to the gods, but were ultimately destroyed. Hurakan latterly
created four perfect men from yellow and white maize, and supplied
them with wives, after which the sun was created, and the cosmological
scheme was complete.[6]


The Incan Peruvians held that all things emanated from Pachacamac,
the universal spirit, from whom proceeded the spirits of the animals
or plants produced by the earth. The earth itself they designated
Pachacamama, or 'Earth-Mother'. Thus we have two distinct conceptions
welded together--a general spirit of living things coalesced with
the originally totally distinct Creator. The idea of a Great Spirit,
a former and shaper, though not necessarily a Creator, is almost
universal throughout America, but it must sooner or later occur to the
barbarian mind that the making of living beings requires something more
than matter: they must receive the breath of life. A true Creator the
Peruvians found in Pachacamac, an anthropomorphic deity representing
the creative mind. The conception of Pachacamac as a ruler and director
of the universe belongs to a later period of Incan rule, when a shrine
was built to him in the new aspect by Apu-Ccapac-Inca Pachacutic,
at the north angle of Cuzco. The Peruvians declared that all things
were made by the word of the spirit, by the mere exercise of will,
or thought. In the prayers to the Creator, and in other fragments of
aboriginal rite which have survived, we read, for example: "Let a man
be: let a woman be," and such expressions as "the creative word."
Occasionally the sun acts as a species of demiurge. For example, it is
he who creates the city of Cuzco, and sends to earth the three eggs of
gold, of silver, and of copper, from which issue the Curacos and their
wives and the Mitayocs and their wives. Tiahuanaco was the theatre
of the new creation of man which followed upon the Deluge. In that
district the Creator made man of clay, and separated him into nations,
making one for each nation, and painting the dresses that each was to
wear, besides giving national songs, languages, seeds suitable to the
soil of each, and food. Then he gave life and soul to each one, and
ordered that they should pass under the earth. Thence each national
type came up in the place to which he ordered it to go. This myth
again is obviously an attempt to harmonize two conflicting creation
stories, an original one of genesis from caves, and the later one of
the creation in Tiahuanaco. We also find local creation myths in some
of the Peruvian valleys. For example, Pachacamac, in the coast valley
of Irma, was not considered the creator of the sun, but a descendant of
it. Of the first human pair created by him the man perished of hunger,
but the woman maintained herself upon roots. The sun took pity upon her
and gave her a son, whom Pachacamac slew and buried, but from his teeth
there grew maize, from his ribs the long white roots of the manioc, and
from his flesh pumpkins and esculent plants.


In the preface to his _Creation Myths of Primitive America_ Mr
Jeremiah Curtin says:

"The creation myths of America form a complete system: they give a
detailed and circumstantial account of the origin of this world and of
all things and creatures contained in it. In the course of the various
narratives which compose this myth system an earlier world is described
to us, with an order of existence and a method of conduct on which the
life of primitive man in America was patterned.

"That earlier world had two periods of duration--one of complete and
perfect harmony; another of violence, collision, and conflict. The
result and outcome of the second period was the creation of all that is
animated on earth except man. Man, in the American scheme of creation,
stands apart and separate; he is quite alone, peculiar, and special.
Above all, he belongs to this continent. The white man was unknown to
American myth-makers, as were also men of every other race and of every
region outside of the Western Hemisphere.

"Described briefly and by an Indian, the American myth system is as
follows: 'There was a world before this one in which we are living at
present; that was the world of the first people, who were different
from us altogether. Those people were very numerous, so numerous that
if a count could be made of all the stars in the sky, all the feathers
on birds, all the hairs and fur on animals, all the hairs of our own
heads, they would not be so numerous as the first people.'

"These people lived very long in peace, in concord, in harmony, in
happiness. No man knows, no man can tell, how long they lived in
that way. At last the minds of all except a very small number were
changed; they fell into conflict--one offended another consciously
or unconsciously, one injured another with or without intention,
one wanted some special thing, another wanted that very thing also.
Conflict set in, and because of this came a time of activity and
struggle, to which there was no end or stop till the great majority of
the first people--that is, all except a small number--were turned into
the various kinds of living creatures that are on earth now or have
ever been on earth, except man--that is, all kinds of beasts, birds,
reptiles, fish, worms, and insects, as well as trees, plants, grasses,
rocks, and some mountains; they were turned into everything that we see
on the earth or in the sky.

"The small number of the former people who did not quarrel, those great
first people of the old time who remained of one mind and harmonious,
'left the earth, sailed away westward, passed that line where the sky
comes down to the earth and touches it, sailed to places beyond; stayed
there or withdrew to upper regions and lived in them happily, lived in
agreement, live so to-day, and will live in the same way hereafter.'

"The American system, as we see, begins with an unknown, great,
indefinite number of uncreated beings--in other words, of self-existent
personages or divinities. Those divinities were everything at first;
there was nothing except them, nothing aside from them, nothing beyond
them. They existed unchanged through untold periods, or rather through
a duration which would be periods were there a measure by which to
divide it. They lived side by side in perfect concord, in the repose
of a primeval chaos of quiescent mind which presents a most remarkable
analogy with the attenuated, quiescent, undifferentiated matter which,
according to the nebular hypothesis, filled all points of space in the
physical universe before the first impulse of motion was given to it.

"At last this long period is ended, there is mental difference among
most of the first people, character is evolved and has become evident;
rivalries, collisions, and conflicts begin.

"The American creation myths, as far as we know them, form simply a
series of accounts of the conflicts, happenings, and various methods
by which the first world was changed into the world now existing. This
change was effected in various ways. In the myths of certain tribes or
nations, it is mainly by struggles between hostile personages. One god
of great power and character overcomes a vast number of opponents, and
changes each into some beast, bird, plant, or insect; but always the
resultant beast or other creature corresponds in some power of mind or
in some leading quality of character with the god from whose position
it has fallen. In certain single cases opponents are closely matched,
they are nearly equal in combat; the struggle between them is long,
uncertain, and difficult. At last, when one side is triumphant, the
victor says, I Hereafter you shall be nothing but a----'; and he tells
what the vanquished is to be. But at this point the vanquished turns
on the victor and sends his retort like a Parthian arrow, 'You shall
be nothing but a----'; and he declares what his enemy is to be. The
metamorphosis takes place immediately on both sides, and each departs
in the form which the enemy seemed to impose, but which really belonged
to him....

"With the transformation of the last of the first people or divinities,
which was finished only when the Indians or some sign of them appeared
in every remote nook and corner in which a remnant of the first
people had taken refuge, the present order of things is established
completely. There are now in the world individualities of three
distinct sets and orders. First, that small number of the first people
whose minds had never changed, those gods who withdrew and who live in
their original integrity and harmony, who retired to places outside
the sky or above it; second, the great majority of the gods, who have
become everything in the present world save and except only Indians.
This cycle finished, there is a new point of departure, and we meet a
second group of myths concerning the existent world as it is now with
its happenings--myths containing accounts of conflicts which are ever
recurrent, which began before all the first people were metamorphosed,
conflicts which are going on at present and which will go on forever;
struggles between light and darkness, heat and cold, summer and winter,
struggles between winds that blow in opposite directions--in fact,
accounts of various phenomena and processes which attract the attention
of savage men more than others because savage men are living face to
face with them always.

"This second group contains a large number of myths, many of them
exceedingly beautiful and, so far as they are known, highly pleasing to
cultivated people. Unfortunately few of these myths have been given to
the world yet, for the sole and simple reason that comparatively few
have been collected from the Indians."

Many and diverse indeed are the tales regarding creation current among
the red men of America; but, notwithstanding their variety, they
possess a fundamental likeness to each other whether they hail from
the pampas of Argentina or the region of the Great Lakes. Among the
North American Indian myths we find the animal creator strongly in
evidence. Thus among the Algonquin Indians we have the Creator Michabo
or Manibozho, the Great Hare, who through philological confusion
(the likeness of the words for 'light' and 'rabbit') has changed his
original status of sun-god for that of an animal deity. While hunting
he observed his dogs disappear in the waters of a mighty lake. He
himself entered the waters, which suddenly overflowed and submerged
'the world.' The god dispatched a raven to discover a piece of earth,
but it returned. Another was equally unlucky, whereupon Manibozho sent
out a musk-rat, which returned with a sufficiency of earth to recreate
the terrestrial sphere. Marrying the musk-rat, he peopled the world.


The Arawak family, inhabiting the Guianas, Northern Brazil, and part
of Columbia, believe that in the beginning the animals were created by
Makonaima, the great spirit, whom no man has seen.[7] They had at that
time the power of speech, and Sigu, the son of Makonaima, was placed
to rule over them. Makonaima created a marvellous tree, each branch
of which produced a different kind of fruit The agouti discovered it
first, and, coming daily to the tree, ate his fill without apprising
the other animals. Sigu, suspecting him, ordered the woodpecker to keep
him in sight, but the bird failed to detect him, and he was ultimately
convicted by the rat. The tree was now open to all, and the animals
were about to consume the fruits _in toto_ when Sigu determined to cut
down the tree and extend it over the whole earth by planting every seed
and slip which it would furnish. To this end he employed the birds and
beasts, all of which assisted willingly, except Iwarrika, the monkey,
who thwarted the labours of the others. The stump of the tree was
discovered to be full of water containing the fry of every description
of fresh-water fish. The water beginning to flow, Sigu covered the
tree-stump with a closely woven basket, but the monkey removed this
and precipitated a terrible flood. Sigu then led the animals to an
eminence where some high cocorite palms grew, and these he made the
birds and climbing animals ascend. Those which could not climb and
were not amphibious he placed in a cave, and closed and sealed it with
wax. He then ascended the cocorite palm himself. During the terrible
period of darkness and storm which followed Sigu dropped the seeds of
the cocorite into the water beneath to judge by the sound of its depth.
When at length he heard them strike the soft earth he knew that the
period of flood had passed. The Macusis believe that the only person
who survived the deluge re-peopled the earth by converting stones into
human beings, as did Deucalion and Pyrrha. The Tamanacs say that one
man and one woman were saved by taking refuge on the lofty mountains
of Tamanucu, and that they threw over their heads the fruits of the
Mauritius palm, from the kernels of which sprang men and women. The
Warrau tribe of the Arawaks possessed the following legend of their
own origin and that of the Caribs. The Warraus originally dwelt in a
pleasant region above the sky, where there were neither wicked men
nor noxious animals. Okonorote, a young hunter, having wandered far
in pursuit of a beautiful bird, espied it and discharged an arrow
which missed its mark and disappeared. While searching for his arrow
he found a hole through which it had fallen, and on looking through it
descried the lower world. He made a rope by which he descended with
his tribe, a corpulent woman, as in several of the North American
myths, remaining fixed in the aperture, and filling it up. In answer
to the people's cries for water the Great Spirit created the Essiquibo
river. Later, Korobona, a Warrau maiden, produced the first Carib--a
terrible warrior, who slew many Warraus. The Paressi tribe of the
Arawaks believed that the neglect of certain customs was the origin of
misfortune in the world. They also related that Maiso, a stone woman,
produced all living beings and all rivers. Even the domestic animals
and iron tools of the whites were borne by this original mother.

The Arawaks of Guiana had a myth that Aimon Kondi, the Great Spirit,
scourged the world with fire, from which the survivors sought refuge
in underground caverns. A great flood followed, and Marerewana and
his followers saved themselves in a canoe. Still another Arawak myth
relates that the Creator, having completed the cosmic scheme, seated
himself in a great silk-cotton tree by a river side and cut off pieces
of its bark, which he cast all around. Those which reached the water
became fish, those which touched the air birds, those which alighted
upon the earth animals and men.

The Athapascan Indians of North-west America believe the creator of the
world to be Yetl, the bird from whose wings came thunder. The plane of
earth arose from the waters as Yetl brooded thereon. The Athapascans
trace their descent from Yetl, who, they believe, saved their ancestors
from the flood and, like Prometheus, brought them fire from Heaven.


The Iroquois tribes believe that their female ancestress fell from
Heaven into the waste of primeval waters; but the dry land bubbled up
under her feet and quickly grew to the size of a continent. Several of
these tribes, however, are of opinion that some amphibious animals,
such as the otter, beaver, and musk-rat, noticed her fall, and
hastened to break it by shovelling up earth from the mud beneath the
waters. Indeed, the Indians of this family were wont to point to the
mountain so raised near the falls of the Oswego river.


Although there are no less than twenty-one different linguistic
divisions in California, the similarity of their myths is remarkable.
The Maidu have a most intricate creation myth of Kodoyanpe, the
Creator, and the Coyote, who discovered the world and rendered it
habitable for men. The first human beings were small wooden images like
those in the _Popol Vuh,_ but these mannikins were no more tractable
than were those of Guatemala, and were at last changed into animals.
Kodoyanpe, the Beneficent, perceived that Coyote was bent upon evil
courses, and conceived the idea of his destruction. In this he was
aided by a being called the Conqueror, destroyer of many monsters and
evil things which would have menaced the life of man still unborn;
but at length Kodoyanpe was defeated by Coyote and fled eastward, as
did Quetzalcoatl in Mexican myth. The Indians then sprang from the
places where the mannikins of the first creation had been buried. Other
versions of the myth tell of a primeval waste of waters upon which
Kodoyanpe and Coyote dropped in a canoe. "Let this surf become sand!"
cried Coyote, and it became sand.

The Achomawi, neighbours to the Maidu, state that the Creator
originally emerged from a small cloud, and that Coyote sprang from
a fog. The Aschochimi of California had a flood myth of the total
destruction of humanity; but by planting the feathers of divers birds
the Coyote grew a new crop of men of various tribes.

Mr W. Barbrook Grubb in his recent book on the Lengua Indians of South
America describes their creation myth as follows:

"Their whole mythology is founded upon their idea of the Creation,
of which we know only the bare outlines. The Creator of all things,
spiritual and material, is symbolized by a beetle. It seems that the
Indian idea is that the material universe was first made. The Creator,
in the guise of the beetle, then sent forth from its hole in the earth
a race of powerful beings--according to many in an embodied state--who
for a time appear to have ruled the universe.

"Afterwards the beetle formed man and woman from the clay which it
threw up from its hole. These were sent forth on the earth, joined
together like the Siamese twins. They met with persecution from their
powerful predecessors, and accordingly appealed to the creating beetle
to free them from their disadvantageous formation. He therefore
separated them, and gave them power to propagate their species, so that
they might become numerous enough to withstand their enemies. It then
appears that some time after this, or at this time, the powerful beings
first created became disembodied, as they never appear again in the
tradition of the Indians in material form. The beetle then ceased to
take any active part or interest in the governance of the world, but
committed its fortunes to these two races, which have been antagonistic
ever since.

"It is rather remarkable, when we consider that they have no written
records, and no system of carefully transmitted tradition, that they
should retain a belief in an original Creator, in the immortality of
the soul, and in the existence of these powerful and numerous evil
personifications which they call _kilyikhama_.

"That the Indian should regard the beetle as the symbol of creative
power is, perhaps, the most remarkable feature in their mythology, for
it closely resembles the Egyptian Scarabæus and the ideas associated
with it."


Some American myths recount the manner in which mankind originally
emerged from the earth. Thus the Caddoan family (Pawnees, Wichitu,
etc.) believed that they came from the Underworld. Atius Tirawa, their
creative agency, was omnipotent and invincible, dwelt in the upper air,
and guided the constellations. A similar myth is that of the Mandan
Sioux, who suppose that the progenitors of their 'nation' lived in a
subterranean village near a vast lake. A grape-vine penetrated the
earth, and clambering up this several of them gained the upper world.


The ancient Caribs of the Antilles, now extinct, regarded the earth,
which they designated Mama Nono, as "the good mother, from which all
things come." They believed that their original founder created the
race by sowing the soil with stones, or with the fruit of the Mauritius
palm, which sprouted forth into men and women (Müller, _Amerikanische
Urreligionen_). The Bakairi Caribs possess a belief akin to that of
the Zuñi Indians of New Mexico regarding the coming together of the
Sky-Father and the Earth-Mother, originally in opposition to one
another, communicating, then touching, and at last moving away from one
another until they exchanged places. In the legends of the Bakairi,
the mystical twin heroes Keri and Kame brought the first animals from
the hollow trunk of a tree, which they connect with the Milky Way.
The Caribs possess the same myth as the Arawaks regarding the efforts
of the primitive culture-hero to gauge the depths of the volume of
water which enshrouded the earth. Another Carib deluge myth related
that excessive rains brought about a great flood, and that humanity
was saved by the ibis, which had scooped up so much earth with its
beak that hills could be formed from the heap. The Bakairi believe
that the sun and moon were in the beginning aimlessly carried about
by two birds, until at last Keri and Kame seized them by cunning, and
made them proceed in a regular course. They aver that the luminaries
are concealed by certain animals--lizards, birds, and spiders--which
swallow the sun at night and the moon by day, disgorging them in the
morning and evening respectively. Others believe that the moon is
obscured at night by a shaman taking the form of a bird, and covering
its disk with his wings. The Pleiades the Bakairi believe to be
parakeets. In Orion they see a dried stick of manioc.


A twofold destruction befell the original Tupi-Guarani people of
Brazil. According to the myth, Monan the Creator, vexed with mankind,
attempted to destroy the world by fire; but one Irin Magé a magician of
might, extinguished the conflagration by a heavy rain-storm. This in
turn caused the rivers and lakes to overflow. When the flood subsided,
a quarrel between the hero-brothers Tamandare and Aricoute precipitated
another deluge, for the former stamped his foot so deeply into the
ground that a flood of water issued therefrom, and the two brothers
and their families were forced to take refuge in trees. The Mundruku
tribe possesses a myth that a god Raini formed the world by placing it
in the shape of a flat stone upon the head of another demiurge. Some
other Tupi tribes believe in an interchange of Heaven and earth, as
do the Zuñi Indians, while the Mundruku hero, Karu, creates mountains
by blowing feathers about. The River Chaco Indians, cognate to the
Guarani, believe that the universe was created by a gigantic beetle.
After having made the plains, mountains, and forests, it scraped a hole
in the ground and entered the earth. From this hole numerous living
beings issued and covered the face of the earth. These beings after
death became evil spirits, and constantly torment mankind. From the
particles of soil thrown up by its excoriations the beetle constructed
a man and woman, the progenitors of all human kind. Subsequently other
evil spirits came from the hole, and attempted to overthrow the man and
woman. The beetle gave power to the human beings to resist, but then
withdrew, taking no further interest in their fate. An early traveller,
Hans Staden, writing in 1550 of the Tupi-Guarani tribes, states their
belief in the destruction of their ancestors by a powerful supernatural
being, Maire, in an inundation from which but a few were saved by
climbing trees and hiding in caves. The same authority gives the names
of three brothers, Krimen, Hermitten, and Coem, from whom these tribes
claimed descent. The southern tribes speak of four brothers, two of
them called Tupi and Guarani respectively, and parents of the racial
divisions designated after them. Among the northern Tupi proper a very
definite cosmogony is discovered. Toru-shom-pek, the sun, is their
principle of good, and Toru-guenket, the moon, the power of evil. The
latter is supposed to fall periodically and destroy the earth, and
from her emanate all baneful influences, such as thunder-storms and
floods. Tupi cosmology rests primarily upon the idea that all created
things possess a maker or 'mother' who is solely responsible for the
scheme of creation, no male influence being traceable. There are three
other superior deities, who made the various natural families and are
generally known among the Tupi tribes as Guaracy, the sun, creator
of all animals, Jacy, the moon, creator of plant-life, and Peruda or
Ruda, the god of generation, who promotes the reproduction of human
beings. Each of these has a number of demiurges under him, served
by numerous spirits who protect every individual animal, plant, and
person. But Tupi cosmology varies with locality, and this accounts for
the conflicting notices of its several investigators. Like the Arawaks,
the Tupi believe in Tupan, who alone of his four brothers survived the
deluge, but he does not appear as a creative agency. The conception
of natural phenomena among the Tupi-Guarani tribes is no less curious
than their theories of creation. They believe the Pleiades to be a
swarm of celestial bees. The Bororos Indians and other tribes believe
the Southern Cross to be the track of an emu, and the Milky Way an


During their voyage of exploration along the Rio Maraca, a tributary
on the right bank of the Amazon, the mightiest river of the world, the
leaders of the Croatian Scientific Mission in South America heard from
native lips an interesting creation legend concerning the brothers Tupi
and Guarani, the first forefathers of the tribes speaking the sister
tongues called after them. This legend freely translated, runs as

Tupi was once proceeding on a great journey to Pará, with his bow and
arrow in his hands, and his inseparable companion, the wise parrot
Maitá, on his shoulders. His younger brother Guarani followed in
his track with the evil purpose of stealing Maitá, because Fortune
(Toryba) had decreed that the possessor of this bird should have his
daughter, the beautiful maiden Maricá ('fine leaf'), as his wife.

Maitá, endowed with all magic wisdom, was a unique bird. He spoke with
his companion, knew exactly the spots in the primeval forest where game
and fruits were to be found, and likewise kept watch and gave warning
of the approach and the number of enemies. Tupi, although aware of the
evil intentions of his younger brother, went cheerily and carelessly
on his way, the magic bird shielding him against all surprise. The
steps of the two brothers were to bring them to the banks of the Pará.
Guarani, fitly known as 'the patient one,' did not fret. Maricá, the
amiable daughter of Toryba, had long been in love with the younger of
the brothers; their hearts had long been united in the primeval forest,
where the world had often been forgotten in sweet kisses and embraces.

"Wait three days for me!" said the maiden, "I will bring you Maitá or
be the prisoner of Tupi."

In the meantime Tupi reached the banks of the Pará and lay fast asleep
under the shade of a great banana-tree (Pacobahyba).

"Awake, comrade!" cried Maitá. "The enemy is yet far distant, but the
treacherous Maricá is in sight."

Hastily the warrior sprang up, and became aware of a mocking titter
from the neighbouring bushes.

"Do not fear to come nearer, Maricá, my love. I will marry you, and you
shall become the mother of my children,"

"Thou liest, Tupi!" answered the girl. "Give me thy bird and I will
believe it!"

The eyes of the charming wood-nymph flashed alluringly upon the youth;
he could not resist their magic and ordered the parrot to fly to the
shoulder of his new companion; but the wise bird had no intention of
furthering the false designs of the maiden, and did not move from the

Tupi angrily repeated his order and made as if to strike the
inattentive bird. Then Maitá flew to the very top of a slender palm,
while the fleet-footed maiden endeavoured to disappear into the depths
of the forest.

Tupi was by no means willing to lose the beauty, and set out after
her with swinging strides, but in vain. Laughing heartily, the active
little maid clambered up a thousand-year-old giant tree and would not
be caught.

As if grown out of the earth Guarani suddenly appeared between them.
The game of hide-and-seek came to an end, the rivals measured each
other with glances of hatred, fell upon and grappled with one another.
Like a squirrel the lovely Maricá climbed up a palm and seated herself
beside the fugitive magic bird Maitá. Both desired to witness this
unworthy fight between the twin brothers.

The day-star set, the moon arose, but the brothers did not move from
the spot. They gripped each other fast, bloody sweat dripped from their
brows, and their fiercely sparkling eyes declared that one of them must
have no place on earth. The parrot screeched, and Maricá wept, for
Guarani's strength seemed to be leaving him.

"Be gracious, mighty Tupan!" pleaded the daughter of Fate to the father
of mankind. Tupan, the almighty, heard the maiden's prayer and ordered
the bride of the Wind to separate the brothers. Forthwith the Flood
(Pororoca) rose in storm amidst peals of thunder; uncanny crashings and
rumblings broke the stillness of the primeval forest, the earth shook,
and all the elements seemed to have broken loose. Trees and palms were
overthrown, and fell into the foam-covered waves of the giant river.
The parrot was lost in the skies, while Maricá was carried off by the
wind and came to herself in her mother's hut. The terrified wrestlers
ceased their struggle and looked in surprise at each other.

In the hope of catching Maricá, Tupi sprang upon a floating tree-trunk
and entrusted his fate to the will of the waters, finally anchoring his
ship of life to the opposite bank. There he settled down and became
the ancestor of numerous Indian peoples, the Pitiguaras, Tupinambas,
Tabajaras, Cahetes, Tupiniquias, and many others.

Guarani returned southward and founded the Guayanas, Carijos, Tapes,
and many other generations of warlike Indian races.


We have now summarized the chief creation myths, and the question
arises, How far have these influenced each other? The further question,
Can they be traced to a common original account or accounts? we do not
put, as it appears to us quite as futile as those 'researches' into the
'original language' of mankind.

Although not in any way denying the circulation of myth and its
dissemination, we do not think that the theory of complete and
wholesale borrowing from advanced races by savage peoples is confirmed
by actual research. There are, it is admitted, well-authenticated
examples of the colouring of savage myth by civilized cosmogonies;
but these examples are easily distinguished by the practised student
of myth, as they lack the fundamentals of barbarian myth--simplicity,
'savagery,' in short, that aboriginal artlessness and primitiveness
which mark all early and unsophisticated religious thought. Unlike
primitive myths, they possess the idea of the creation of something
from nothing (that is, they do not describe re-creation instead of
creation). Of creation myths exhibiting cultured influence there are
very few, and when one creation tale resembles another a great deal
of proof should be forthcoming before it is inferred that one has
sophisticated the other or that both proceed from a common story.[8]

How absurd it is to credit all or most barbarian theology with an alien
origin is seen from the _Popol Vuh_, already quoted, an aboriginal
composition of the Kiche Indians of Guatemala. This work was written
by a Christianized native of Guatemala some time in the seventeenth
century, and was copied (in the Kiche language, in which it was
originally written) by a Dominican friar, Francisco Ximenez, who added
a Spanish translation and _scholia_. The Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg,
a profound student of American archæology and languages,[9] deplored,
in a letter to the Duc de Valmy,[10] the supposed loss of the _Popol
Vuh_ which he was aware had been made use of early in the nineteenth
century by a certain Don Felix Cabrera. Dr C. Scherzer, an Austrian
scholar, thus made aware of its value, paid a visit to the republic of
Guatemala in 1854 or 1855, and was successful in tracing the missing
manuscript in the library of the University of San Carlos in the city
of Guatemala. It was afterward ascertained that its scholiast, Ximenez,
had deposited it in the library of his convent at Chichicastenango,
whence it passed to the San Carlos library in 1830. Scherzer made a
copy of the Spanish translation of the manuscript, which he published
at Vienna in 1856 under the title of _Las Historias del origen de los
Indios de Guatemala, par el R. P. F. Francisco Ximenez_. The Abbé
Brasseur also took a copy of the original, which he published at Paris
in 1861, with the title _Vuh Popol: Le livre sacré des Quiches, et les
mythes de l'antiquité americaine_. In this work the Kiche original and
the Abbé's French translation are set forth side by side. Unfortunately
both the Spanish and the French translations leave much to be desired
in accuracy, and the notes which accompany them are misleading. The
name '_Popol Vuh_' signifies 'Record of the Community,' and its
literal translation is 'Book of the Mat,' from the Kiche words _pop_
or _popol_, a mat or rug of woven leaves on which the entire family
sat, and _vuh_ or _uuh,_ paper or book, from _uoch_, to write. The
_Popol Vuh_ is an example of a world-wide _genre_--a type of annals
of which the first portion is pure mythology, shading off into pure
history, evolving from the hero-myths of saga to the recital of the
deeds of authentic personages. It may, in fact, be classed with the
_Heimskringla_ of Snorri, the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus, the
Chinese History in the Five Books, the Japanese _Nihongi_, and its
fourth book somewhat resembles the Pictish Chronicle. The cosmogony
of the _Popol Vuh_ exhibits no signs of Christian influence, and even
if it did, it would be quite erroneous to infer that such influence
was direct--that is, that the original compiler deliberately infused
into the narrative what he knew of Hebrew cosmogony. The resemblance
between the first few chapters of the _Popol Vuh_ and the creation
myth in Genesis is slight and fortuitous. There are no precise points
of contact, and the supposed resemblance has been drawn by writers
only superficially acquainted with Kiche myth and wholly ignorant of
its spirit and the processes which developed it. It is by no means
difficult to prove the genuine American character of the _Popol Vuh_.
A perusal should suffice. Macpherson, in his preface to the first
edition of the poems of Ossian, says an "ingenious gentleman" before
reading those poems imagined that out of modesty he had ascribed them
to an ancient writer, but after reading them said they abounded too
much in ideas only belonging to an early state of society to be the
work of a modern poet. We need not trouble about the authorship of the
poems of Ossian; but the ingenious gentleman could have said the same
thing with justice of the _Popol Vuh_. To anyone who has given it a
careful examination it must be abundantly evident that it has passed
through several stages of development; that it is of aboriginal origin;
and that it has not been influenced by European thought in any manner
whatsoever. The fact that it was composed in the Kiche tongue is almost
sufficient proof of its genuine American character. The scholarship of
the nineteenth century was unequal to the adequate translation of the
_Popol Vuh_; the twentieth century has as yet shown no signs of being
able to accomplish the task; and if modern scholarship is unable to
translate the work, the eighteenth century was unable to create it. No
European of that time was sufficiently versed in Kiche theology and
history to compose in faultless Kiche such a work as the _Popol Vuh_,
breathing as it does in every line an intimate and natural acquaintance
with the antiquities of Guatemala.

From these considerations it will be clear that the Hebrew cosmogony
has neither coloured nor veneered the account of creation in the
_Popol Vuh_, nor have its transcribers destroyed the veritable
aboriginal thought which lies beneath. The account of the making of
man, for example, is totally different in Genesis and in the Kiche
production. "Giants in those days" appear in both, but in the first
they are merely alluded to, whereas in the second a very full account
is provided of their destruction. The star and sun myths of the two
accounts have no resemblance, and the sole likeness is in the opening
scene,[11] where the vast abyss in which the original deity or deities
sleep is pictured. Its resemblance to other American cosmogonies
has been amply proved; and to credit the whole, as has been done,
to Christian influence _alone_ is characteristic of the period in
which the criticism was promulgated--a period of superficial learning
and cheap generalization like that of certain present-day critics
and ultra-popular writers on mythology and folklore, and improperly
equipped persons at all times.[12]

We do not desire, as we have already said, to deny the existence of
borrowed or sophisticated cosmogonies, but these are of late origin,
easily perceived, and as a rule merely veil a primitive or much earlier
original. The following instance, alluded to by the late Professor
Brinton, well serves to illustrate the point in question. He says:

"Very soon after coming in contact with the whites, the Indians caught
the notion of a bad and good spirit, pitted one against the other in
eternal warfare, and engrafted it on their ancient traditions. Writers
anxious to discover Jewish or Christian analogies forcibly construed
myths to suit their pet theories, and for indolent observers it was
convenient to catalogue their gods in antithetical classes. In Mexican
and Peruvian mythology this is so plainly false that historians no
longer insist upon it, but as a popular error it still holds its ground
with reference to the more barbarous and less known tribes. Perhaps
no myth has been so often quoted in its confirmation as that of the
ancient Iroquois, which narrates the conflict between the first two
brothers of our race. It is of undoubted native origin and venerable
antiquity. The version given by the Tuscarora chief Cusic in 1825
relates that in the beginning of things there were two brothers,
Enigorio and Enigohatgea, names literally meaning the Good Mind and
the Bad Mind. (Or more exactly, the Beautiful Spirit, the Ugly Spirit
In Onondaga the radicals are _onigonra_, spirit; _hio_, beautiful;
_ahetken_, ugly.) The former went about the world furnishing it with
gentle streams, fertile plains, and plenteous fruits, while the latter
maliciously followed him, creating rapids, thorns, and deserts. At
length the Good Mind turned upon his brother in anger, and crushed him
into the earth. He sank out of sight in its depths, but not to perish,
for in the dark realms of the Underworld he still lives, receiving
the souls of the dead, and being the author of all evil. Now when
we compare this with the version of the same legend given by Father
Brebeuf, missionary to the Hurons in 1636, we find its whole complexion
altered; the moral dualism vanishes; the names Good Mind and Bad Mind
do not appear; it is the struggle of Ioskeha, the White one, with his
brother Tawiscara, the Dark one, and we at once perceive that Christian
influence in the course of two centuries had given the tale a meaning
foreign to its original intent."[13]

No student of myth of any experience would for a moment accept the
first-mentioned tale as solely of aboriginal origin. Its ethical trend
would make this at least doubtful. It would not be correct to say that
an ethical spirit never enters into the religious tales of savages,
but it should certainly be regarded with suspicion until it is proved
to be aboriginal. It is not surprising to find it in the tales of
Egyptians, Hebrews, Peruvians, and people of considerable culture;
but to encounter it in the stories of Africans, American Indians, and
savages who have been long in contact with Europeans should at once
arouse suspicion. Never let us neglect, however, the matter which lies
beneath the cultural veneer. The Uapès Indians of Brazil include both
Jurupari and the Christian hierarchy in their pantheon. We know that
the latter are new-comers there; but let us not neglect Jurupari! We
know that Roman belief sophisticated Gallic religious practice; but is
that to say that it submerged it?

In order to show exactly where the most notable creation myths impinge
upon each other and exhibit resemblances, the following tables have
been drawn up, which indicate this at a glance. It will be seen
that most of those which bear resemblances are situated in regions
excessively remote--an argument in favour of those who believe that the
religious evolution of man has followed similar lines in all parts of
the habitable globe.


      The idea of a primeval abyss is common to Egypt,
      Babylonia, India, Scandinavia, the Celts, some North
      American Indians.

      The original god (or gods) finds himself in this abyss in
      the myths of Egypt, Babylonia, India, the Hebrews, the

      The original god (or gods) broods over the face of the
      waters in Hebrew, Polynesian, North American Indian, and
      Maya-Kiche myth.

      The universe is manufactured from the corpse of a primeval
      being in the myths of Babylonia, China, Scandinavia,
      Hindus (Purusha).

      Life or matter is created by the spoken word of the
      original god in the myths of Egypt, the Hebrews, the
      Celts, the Maya-Kiches.

      The idea of the cosmic egg appears in the myths of Egypt,
      India, Japan, Peru.

      Man emanates: from the tears of a god (Egypt), from the
      blood and bones of a god (Babylonia), from clay (the
      Hebrews and North American Indians), from worms (China),
      from wooden images or trees (Scandinavia, Maya-Kiches,
      Iran), from the sweat of a god or giant (Iran and
      Scandinavia), from the union of a god and an animal (some
      North American Indians).

      The eyes of a god or demiurge become the sun and moon in
      the cosmogonies of Egypt, China, Scandinavia (?).

      The piece of earth from which the new world is constructed
      is fished out of the waters of the deluge by an animal
      in some North American Indian myths, and perhaps in the
      original form of the Hebrew myth.



      (1) A god finding himself in a primeval abyss, where he
      has been since the beginning of time, utters his name.
      This act causes him to 'live.'

      (2) He next creates, by a magical act, a foundation upon
      which to stand, probably the earth.

      (3) From his mouth he brings objects which reproduce

      (4) He creates two other deities, male and female, who in
      turn propagate other gods.

      (5) Vegetation and creeping things are formed on the earth.

      (6) Man is then created from the tears which fall from the
      original deity.


      (1) Primeval deities dwell in an abyss.

      (2) New gods arrive (?) and quarrel with them.

      (3) Two of the primeval deities are slain, but the third,
      a female, creates monsters and gives battle to the
      new-comers, and is annihilated.

      (4) The new gods create the earth and firmament from her

      (5) Their champion is decapitated, and from his blood and
      bones springs the race of mankind.


      (1) From nothingness an atom is formed.

      (2) In the course of ages it splits into a male and female
      principle which again split in two.

      (3) From the co-operation of these four elements springs a
      being whose body is broken up into the constituents of a
      universe, and the worms from its decomposing corpse become


      (1) There exists a yawning abyss, bordered on one side
      by a realm of mist and cold, on the other by a region of

      (2) A giant is brought into being through the melting of
      the congealing vapour in the place of cold by a spark of
      fire from the region of Muspelheim.

      (3) This being becomes the progenitor of a race of giants.

      (4) He has a cow which, by licking a brine-covered rock,
      produces the father of the gods.

      (5) These gods slay the giant and all his progeny save
      two, and manufacture the earth from his corpse.

      (6) Alternatively the gods lift the earth out of the
      primeval waters.

      (7) The dwarfs fashion two figures out of trees, and the
      gods give them life and understanding.


      (1) Two principles, creative and destructive, are alluded

      (2) The latter dwells in an abyss.

      (3) Atomic life originates through the spoken words of the
      creative principle.

      (4) Man passes from the abyss to the earth-circle.


      (1) Male and female elements separate from the original

      (2) These form an ovoid body containing germs from which
      heaven and earth are formed.

      (3) A species of reed-shoot appears between them and is
      transformed into a god.

      (4) Divine beings are born, two of whom unite and give
      birth to islands, seas, rivers, herbs, and trees, and the
      celestial bodies.

[1] _Original Sanscrit Texts_, London, 1868, vol. v, p. 356.

[2] See Budge, _The Gods of Egypt_ (1904).

[3] See King, _Seven Tablets of Creation_(1902); and _Babylonian
Religion and Mythology_ (1899).

[4] Gomara, _Conquista de Mejico_, chap. ccxv (Madrid, 1749).

[5] Mendieta, _Hist. Eccl. Ind_., lib. i, chap. 2 (Mexico, 1870).

[6] See my _The Popol Vuh_, pp. 9-26 (London, 1908).

[7] W. H. Brett, _Indian Tribes of Guiana_, p. 378 _et seq._(1865).

[8] This question has been dealt with at greater length elsewhere (see
p. 158).

[9] His euhemeristic interpretations of the Mexican myths are as
worthless as the materials he unearthed are priceless.

[10] Mexico, October 15, 1850.

[11] This has, in fact, quite as strong a resemblance to the
cosmological account in the _Satapatha Brahmana_ in some details.

[12] A disquieting circumstance attending such ignorant criticism is
that those who criticize appear in many instances to be quite unable
to apprehend the substantial difficulties in the way of barbarian
borrowings. Thus a reviewer in a weekly journal of standing actually
inferred that certain North American Indian myths presented by the
author had been sophisticated by Greek and classical tales. However
well the theory of borrowing may explain things, and although borrowing
does at times occur, the difficulties in this especial instance are
overwhelming. They were quite unappreciated, however, by the reviewer,
whose experience of myth was, of course, obviously limited. Students of
myth would do well to bear the point of virtual impossibility in mind,
as it is of constant occurrence, and one regarding which no fixed or
definite rules or laws can possibly obtain.

[13] _Myths of the New World_ by Professor D. G. Brinton (Philadelphia,



A place of reward and a place of punishment are ineradicably associated
with mythology. The idea that the human soul must betake itself to a
realm of brightness and bliss, where it will ever bask in the smile of
the gods it has adored upon earth, or be tormented by beings--still
god-like--in an atmosphere of suffering or torture, appears to be
common to most mythological systems of an advanced type. Thus Egyptian,
Indian, Babylonian, Hebrew, and Mexican mythology all possess a place
of bliss and a region of sorrow. In Greek, Roman, Scandinavian, and
Celtic myth, however, we have merely a Hades, an Otherworld, a place of
the dead. Would it be true to say that it is only among those peoples
in whom the moral standpoint is high that the places of reward and
punishment are conceived, instead of the mere place of the dead, the
abode of shadows? If so, the Aztec who delighted in human sacrifice
was upon a higher ethical level than the cultivated Greek. Again,
the myths of races of low civilization sometimes refer to a place of
reward, although more often their abode of the dead is merely a shadowy
extension of their mortal existence.

Let us examine the outstanding myths of civilized antiquity, then
their savage counterparts, ere we decide how far mankind owes its
conception of Heaven and Hell to ethical promptings. This is one of
the junctures where religious science is not to be distinguished from
the science of mythology, for both explain the origin of ideas dealing
with the next world, or attempt to place them in their proper sequence
of evolution. But it must be borne in mind that the science of myth is
not concerned with the purely religious aspect of the abode of the
dead, whatever form it takes, but with its 'geography,' scenery, and
supernatural inhabitants only. If it asks "How far have the myths of a
place of punishment and reward been affected by ethical promptings?"
it is merely for the sake of the myths, not for any concern with these


The Teutonic peoples believed that the dead passed to the realm of Hel
(our 'Hell'), daughter of Loki. The word Hel appears to be derived from
a root which means 'to conceal' (old Teutonic 'Halja,' the Coverer-up
or Hider), and signified both the realm of the dead and the goddess
who presided over it. But it is probably a later development of the
myth, perhaps sophisticated by Christian influences, that makes Hel
a place of punishment. In Hel's later habitation we find "Hunger
her table, starvation her knife, delay and slowness her servants,
precipice her threshold, care her bed." The realm of this dark goddess,
the Proserpine of the North, was not originally associated with the
idea of punishment, but was pictured rather as a delectable region.
Thither fared Balder when slain, and on his arrival 'Eljudnir,' the
high hall of Hel, was bravely decorated, while foaming horns of mead
were prepared for his reception. In later days, when the conception
of Valhalla, the warriors' Paradise, was popularly accepted, Hel
became the residence after death of those who had not perished by
the sword, who had died a 'straw' death. The Teutonic defunct, then,
were divided in death according to the manner of their dying, as in
ancient Mexico, where dead warriors went to the palace of the sun-god
and those who died of dropsy or were struck by lightning betook them
to the luscious and fertile Paradise of Tlaloc the water-god, while
the common herd were swallowed pell-mell by the capacious death-cavern
of Mictlantecutli, lord of Mictlan or 'Hades.' The Teutonic goddess
Hel (or 'Hela' in its Latinized form) was, according to Meyer and
Mogk, more closely related to the demonic class of beings than to the
gods proper. This is sometimes the case with the infernal powers, and
examples occur where they are scarcely more than mere demons; but most
commonly the rulers of the Underworld rank as gods proper. Again, they
are often the deities of a subject, conquered, or outcast race. This
question will receive further treatment at the end of this chapter.

Hel, as has been said, was the child of Loki and the giantess
Angurboda; and a shadowy Teutonic All-Father (a 'god behind the gods,'
who recalls Mr Lang's Australian and Andaman original monotheistic
figures), fearful of the innate and abounding evil in her, cast her
into Niflheim and gave her power over the nine worlds of Helheim,
where she housed the dead. Hel was a place of gloom and dreariness,
but within it was a grove inhabited by sinless beings destined to
re-people the world. It is possible to discern in the myth of Hel as we
know it a later sophistication of the original, most probably due, as
we have said, to Christian influence. Early Teutonic ideas concerning
the dead were by no means well defined. We read of the souls of the
departed accompanying the Wild Huntsman (no other than Odin) on his
weird nightly chase. Other tales describe them as dwelling with Odin
in the hills, or, indeed, beneath them. This last is a very much more
widespread Teutonic tradition than is generally credited. Charlemagne
sleeps in the Odenberg, Frederick Barbarossa in the Kyffhäuser, and,
all unknown to the writer until the day before penning these words,
King Arthur was once thought to slumber beneath the lion-like mass of
Arthur's Seat on the outskirts of Edinburgh.


Valhalla, the hall of Odin, where Teutonic warriors fallen in battle
dwelt ever with the god in feast and fray, was the warriors' Paradise,
and was built round the trunk of a tree Laeradhr. On its leaves browsed
the stag Eikthyrmir and the goat Heidbrun, from whose udders flowed
inexhaustible streams of mead to quench the thirst of the heroes. Its
portals were five hundred and forty in number, and were capable of
admitting eight hundred warriors at a time. Its roof was made of the
shields of the mighty dead, its leaves of their spear-shafts, and round
the walls glittered their swords and mail, while on the western wall
hung a stuffed wolf surmounted by an eagle. At some distance from the
hall was the forest Glasir, the trees of which bore golden foliage,
encircled by a sacred wall. The champions or 'Einherjar' went forth to
combat each other every day, returning to feast on boar and mead.

Now it is obvious that this myth is a comparatively late conception
created by a military aristocracy. A similar phenomenon is to be
observed, as has been said, in ancient Mexico, where the military
caste supplied the altars of the war-god with sacrificial victims,
and maintained the food-compact between the people and their deities.
As you will remember, if the gods perished for lack of sustenance
(human blood) they could not bless the harvests, and the people would
also die. The future reward of a valiant Mexican warrior was the
continuous company of the sun-god. Now we find that at one time human
sacrifice was rendered to Odin. Prisoners of war were sacrificed to
him, precisely as they were to the Mexican war-god Uitzilopochtli by
_stabbing_ (see Chadwick, _Cult of Othin_), and sometimes the 'blood
eagle' was carved on their backs. King Domalde of Sweden and a certain
King Olaf were sacrificed to Odin in order that he might be induced to
put an end to a famine. Thus early Scandinavia resembles Mexico. By
such instances does the science of comparative religion triumphantly
assert its value. Thus the myth of Valhalla appears to have had the
same genesis as the myth of the reception of dead Mexican warriors into
the sun-god's train.


But scanty information is to be gleaned concerning the abode of the
gods of Egypt. In the Pyramid texts of King Pepi I we read that the
whole universe was divided into three portions, Heaven, earth, and the
Underworld or 'Duat,' each with its own gods. Besides the gods, Heaven
contained other classes of beings, the Shesu-Heru or Shemsu-Heru, a
name which may, perhaps, be translated 'Followers of Horus.' They were
those who attended upon Horus, his satellites, and on occasion his
defenders, obviously followers of the sun, the hosts of the sun-god,
resembling in nature the 'pages' of the Mexican Quetzalcoatl, the
Knights of King Arthur of the Round Table (also perhaps the sun[1]),
or the dead warriors who caroused with Norse Odin in Valhalla. Indeed,
we find them assisting Horus in his war against the powers of darkness
exactly as the dead warriors help Odin. These powers are alluded to in
the texts of Pepi I as if they were of very considerable importance in
the Egyptian heavenly economy. Pepi placates them and they purify him
and recite the 'Chapter of those who rise up' on his behalf. Another
class of heavenly beings is the Ashemu, whose characteristics are
unknown. The Henmemet or Hamemet were either those who have been or
were to become human beings. A text of Hatshepset seems to ascribe
mortal attributes to them, as it employs the determinative signs which
stand for human beings, and a passage in a hymn to Amen-Ra edited by
Grépaut shows that the Egyptians believed them to live on grain. Of
other beings, the Set, the Afa, and the Utennu, we only know the name.
The souls of righteous men also dwelt In Heaven.

The Egyptian Heaven, so far as we can glean, realized the idea of
Paracelsus, 'as above, so below'; for it was the macrocosm of the
earth's microcosm, the greater world above, which was mirrored in the
earth below, one being the complement of the other. The denizens of
the Egyptian Olympus were the 'Great,' the 'Little,' and the other
companies of gods; the different classes of beings already alluded
to; and the souls of men, or their 'shadows,' 'doubles,' 'souls,'
'spirits,' 'powers,' 'hearts,' or 'spiritual bodies.' The denizens of
Heaven directed the course of the celestial bodies, overlooked the
affairs of mortals, and accompanied the greater gods in their progress
through the heavens. Constant prayers and hymns of praise arose to Ra,
the king and chief of Heaven. The gods were nourished on celestial food
which came from the Eye of Horus--that is, they subsisted upon the
beams of light which emanated from the sun. In a text of Pepi I we read
of a 'plant of life' which the gods subsisted on, and it apparently
grew near the great lake Sekhet-hetep, on the banks of which the gods
usually reclined. The just who abode with the gods were apparelled in
similar manner to them; but they also wore white linen garments, and
were shod with white sandals.

From the Pyramid texts of Unas we glean some further information
concerning the celestial sphere. It is called Aaru (perhaps 'the
Place of Reeds'), or, in another part of the text, Sekhet-Aaru, and
was divided into a number of districts, the names of which may be
translated 'the Field of Offerings,' 'the Field of Peace,' and 'the
Field of Grasshoppers.' It was watered by extensive lakes, where Ra
bathed and the dead purified themselves before beginning their heavenly
existence. Originally Aaru was thought to be located in the sky, but
there is evidence that it could be entered from certain places in
the Delta, called Pe-Tep and Tettu. The vignettes of Sekhet-Aaru in
the Theban recension of the _Book of the Dead_ indicate that it was
placed in the north of Egypt. It seems to have been composed of good
agricultural country bearing heavy crops, a pleasant and well-watered
land where the justified soul might rest from the labours of earth,
secure in an eternity of bucolic delights. This, be it noted, was the
Paradise of the cult of Osiris, a worship anciently connected with
the land and the tillers thereof. There is little or no ground for
its being confounded, as it certainly appears to have been confounded
at a later period, with the Heaven of Ra. The myth of the Paradise
of Ra, with its choirs of chanting spirits and its different classes
of supernatural beings, bears traces of ecclesiastical elaboration,
whereas the Paradise of the Osirian cult is the Otherworld of a race
purely agricultural--the cult of the peasant as opposed to that of the
dweller in towns.


It was probably only in later times that the 'Duat' was regarded as
a place of punishment. Originally it seems to have been merely the
place through which the dead sun-god Ra passed, after his setting or
death each evening, on his journey to the east, where once again he
might rise. The Duat was peopled by the powers of night and darkness,
the natural enemies of the sun. At a later period these powers were
confounded with the damned--that is, they met with the fate generally
accorded to the deities of gloom and chaos at the hands of more distant
generations. There was no Hell proper for 'lost souls' in the Egyptian
religious economy; but a region existed at the end of the Duat where
infernal goddesses presided over pits of fire, slaying, beheading,
and dismembering the enemies of Ra, and burning the remains. Once
the god had quitted this region, however, the fires went out and his
enemies were granted a period of rest until he reappeared on the
following night. As these beings appeared in Egyptian pictorial art
with human forms, the idea gradually took shape that they represented
the souls of the damned. Dr Budge very shrewdly says: "The souls of the
damned could have done nothing to hinder the progress of Ra, and the
Egyptians never imagined that they did, but it is possible that in late
dynastic times certain schools of theological thought in Egypt, being
dissatisfied with and unconvinced of the accuracy of the theory of the
annihilation of the wicked, assigned to evil souls dwelling-places with
the personifications of the powers of nature already mentioned."[2] The
description of the Duat is hard to fit to any known mythic locality,
but it is usually employed in the texts as a name for a place of the
dead--a Hades, not a place of retribution.


The Hades of Assyria is a vast expanse of emptiness and gloom, from
which, as we learn from a mythological poem on the descent of Ishtar,
"there is no return." Mud and dust feed its population, darkness
is their heritage, it is a house with no exit. A keeper guards the
entrance and exacts homage to Allatu, the queen, from all who enter the
gate. A spell is then cast over the ill-fated new-comer and he is led
through seven successive gates and stripped of all earthly possessions.
In the end he is bereft even of the power of speech.

Allatu and her chiefs enjoy thrones of gold adorned with precious
stones, as though to mark emphatically the difference between
themselves and the culprits. Allatu may recompense or condemn,
according to the needs of the cases that come before her, and has the
power, for instance, to strike an offender with disease of the body, or
to consign him to prison.

The Assyrian Hades was separated from the land of the living by a river
of Death. It had no substance, shape, or atmosphere, but was filled
with chilling cold and melancholy gloom. It boasted a department of
judgment, like the Hebrew Sheol, which in later years became further
developed, and marks a most important variation in the evolution of the
idea of a place of punishment. The journey to this hall of judgment was
full of dangers and horrors of every description, through which the
deceased must pass.

The Babylonian Hades resembles the medieval Hell inasmuch as the
disembodied souls wander about in search of escape. Allatu, with her
divining rod, ruled her dominion with relentless power; and being the
goddess of death and barrenness, she lived in constant dread of Ea, the
god of wisdom, _who_ could alone cancel the spells of the Underworld
and cause men to live again.

The idea of personifying the stars and planets, so that besides
appearing in the sky they presided on the earth in living bodies, is
exemplified in the later Babylonian mythology. This astral system had
the outstanding feature that occurrences on earth closely corresponded
to the movements in Heaven. The gods and goddesses had seats assigned
to them in the heavens while their spirits pervaded the earth. Shamash
and Sin, the two greatest deities, represented the sun and moon, and
were followed by the other planetary gods. Anu became the greatest of
the gods and assumed supreme command of the heavens.

The Babylonians pictured a region in Hades for the reception of
righteous souls. Into this region those who after judgment appeared
to merit recompense gained admission. Under a peaceful silver sky
ancient prophets, crowned in triumph, sat amid pleasant fields. A
clear stream rippled past and quenched the thirst of the seers from
year's end to year's end. This was the water of life, belonging to
Ishtar, and endowing her with the power to return to earth. From this
region spirits passed into a firmament above, consisting of the earthly
sphere in addition to the heavenly. It had windows from which the rain
descended, and a flight of steps leading from the zenith to the earth.


The Jewish place of punishment was Gehenna, where corporal as well
as spiritual torment was meted out to the wicked. In later Jewish
eschatology, it was the place of eternal punishment for the Gentile
races, apostate Jews being retained there in a description of purgatory
until, their sin atoned for, they could pass to Paradise. Sheol, on the
other hand, was perhaps a more purely Hebrew conception than Gehenna,
which probably had its origin in the old Accadian Gi-umuna. Sheol
is the common abode of just and unjust alike after death, and life
there was shadowy and unsubstantial as in the Greek Hades, It is well
described in Isaiah xiv, 9-11:

"Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it
stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it
hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

"All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as
we? art thou become like unto us?

"Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the
worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee."[3]

After the captivity, and consequently under Babylonian influences,
Sheol became a region principally devoted to punishment, with Gehenna
as the place of especial torment and abasement. The Talmud describes
this place of woe as follows: "Ordinary transgressors of Israel,
whose merits preponderate, though they descend into Hell, do not feel
the effects of the flames, and rise at once. Some who sin with their
bodies, such as those who put their neighbours to shame publicly and
who neglect the phylacteries, etc., are annihilated after twelve
months' endurance of hell-fire. Adulterers, though they sin with their
bodies, ascend to happiness at the end of the same period. Christians,
informers, and those who systematically despise the words of the
Rabbis are consigned to eternal punishment. Of course, all may escape
punishment altogether by repentance in this life."

No departmental god rules in this dreary realm, Sheol being directly
under the eye of Yahweh; for, according to Job xxvi, 6, Sheol and
destruction are naked before Him, and being omnipresent He is also in
Sheol. Sheol was silent as the grave, its inhabitants raising not a
murmur; neither in their grief could they work to praise God. It had
gates and bars, alluded to in the Song of Solomon as "jealous" and
"cruel as the grave."

The Talmud obviously borrows from Persian doctrine; or it might be
more correct to say that both conceptions spring from a common source.
In Psalms xxxvi, 8, and xlvi, 4, a river of life is alluded to which
makes glad the abode of the Elohim or gods. Says the anonymous author
of _Bible Folklore:_ In the discourse of Josephus to the Greeks on
Hades we find the opinions of the more liberal Pharisees clearly set
forth about the Christian era. He believes in a Hades of temporary
punishment, and an Elysium of light called Abraham's bosom. The Messiah
Logos (as at Alexandria) is, according to the Jewish historian, to
be the judge who will condemn the wicked to a lake of fire already
prepared, but as yet not used for torture, and will reward the
righteous in the heavenly kingdom. The wicked are to resume their old
bodies unchanged, but the righteous will obtain pure and immortal forms
fashioned from their old bodies which have been sowed in the ground.
The simile of the corn sown as seed, and springing up with a glorified
body, is used by Josephus as by St Paul, and it was evidently a widely
known parable, which occurs also in the Talmud, for Rabbi Meir is said
to have told Cleopatra that as a grain of wheat buried naked springs
forth with many clothes so will the righteous also....

"In the future happy age, says Josephus, after the judgment of the
wicked, there will be inhabitants of Heaven and of earth, but no more
birth, no wild animals, no storms, no darkness or change. Man will be
able to walk across the sea, and to ascend into Heaven; he will never
grow old or die, but continue to enjoy a material or semi-material
existence in his spiritual body....

"In the Mishnah the world to come is mentioned as the heritage of
'all Israel,' but the wicked, the Sadducee, the Epicurean, readers
of foreign books, and sorcerers, together with certain historic
personages, are excluded. Some of these are to be slain by plague in
the world to come, and some are to be scattered. Thus the doctrine
of immortality in the Mishnah is confined to the future resurrection
of pious Israelites. In Daniel also a partial resurrection only
is foretold to follow a judgment day. The Sibyl believes that the
righteous will live again on earth, but the wicked will remain in
Gehenna. The Book of Enoch is full of the same doctrine. A sealed
volume is to be opened in the last day, and the good will be selected
and become angels, but Azazel and his hosts will be judged, and cast
into a lake of fire. A great fire is also to burn up the present Heaven
and earth according to the Sibyl, and a new creation will emerge from
the ashes.

"Such, then, was the development of Jewish eschatology as compared with
that of Egypt, Assyria, and Persia. At first an 'eternal house' beneath
the earth is imagined to hold for ever the shades of good and evil
in appropriate habitations. Gradually the expectation of a return to
earthly life grows up, and the idea of spiritual and immortal bodies.
These are, however, reserved for the elect few, and the wicked are
condemned either to a second death or to eternal torment in their
former bodies in a Hell of flame, where, according to Isaiah, a fiery
worm gnaws upon them."


The Greek place of punishment embraces three abstract regions, Hades,
Tartarus, and Elysium. Spirits leaving the earth entered 'the Unseen,'
passing, according to their worth, into one of these three abodes.

According to one writer, Oceanus, greatest of rivers, rolled between
the place of perfect happiness on its southern banks and the realms of
eternal darkness on its western, where fog and gloom encircled a place
of everlasting punishment. This stream had no mouth and no source, and
did not mingle with the sea which, according to Homer, it enclosed.
Earlier than this, Plato described a still more gloomy region. He
speaks of the plain of Lethe (situated near the two springs of Lethe
and Mnemosyne, which represented oblivion and memory), whose waters
give forgetfulness.

In the _Iliad_, again, the place of Oceanus is usurped by the Styx,
which wound its course seven times round the world of the dead.

Those who had been taught the divination of the mysteries of infernal
life could find guidance as to the future engraved on a gold plate in a
tomb in Petelia at the oracle of Trophonius; and this tomb came to be
regarded as one of the entrances to Hell.

The supreme sovereign of the infernal regions was Pluto, brother of
Zeus and Poseidon, and a willing accomplice in deposing Cronus, their
father, and sharing his kingdom. Pluto, spouse of Persephone, whom we
have mentioned before, ruled with merciless severity, striking terror
to the hearts of his subjects. He possessed a helmet which rendered him
invisible, and he was feared by the gods as well as by the dead. He was
assisted by a tribunal of judges, the chief being Æacus, son of Zeus
and Ægina (appointed to this trust in the Underworld because of his
just dealings with men in his kingdom above), Minos, and Rhadamanthus.
Elysium and Tartarus were two late offshoots of the region of Hades.
In the _Odyssey_, the souls who were utterly worthless fell into the
'deep bottomless pit' of Tartarus, while those who merited reward
passed into the pleasant land of Elysium. In the most ancient Greek
mythology, however, Hades was a region for all the dead, good and bad,
a land of shadow and dim suggestion.


The Elysian fields appear in some descriptions as a fertile plain at
the utmost ends of the earth, washed by the waters of Oceanus, and
ruled over by the god Rhadamanthus, a fair-haired deity who exercises
a benevolent sway over his perfect kingdom. The balmy air, mingled
with the perfume of sweet-scented blossoms, is tempered by zephyrs and
whispering winds. It is never too hot nor too cold. Snow and storm have
no place in this delectable country. In Hesiod, in addition to this
description, Elysium is said to be ruled over by Cronus, the father
of Rhadamanthus, the latter sharing his sovereignty and administering
judgment. Heroes who never died, but were transferred from the realms
above without pain, were the principal subjects of Elysium.

A later theory describes Elysium as a part of the Underworld.


It is testified by Cosmos of Prague and other early writers that the
pagan Slavs believed in the continuance of life after death, and
naturally therefore in an abode of the dead; but it is probable that
this region was not a place of reward or punishment till the influence
of foreign ideas made it so. The abode of the dead was called by the
pre-Christian Slavs _peklo, raj_, or _nav_, which some authorities have
endeavoured to collate with the Greek _naus_, the Latin _navis_; and
colour is lent to this connexion by the ancient Slav custom of burying
their dead in boats, wherein the soul travelled to its abiding-place.
More probably, however, _nav_ is from the root _ny_ which expresses
the idea of death (thus _navi_, the dead, _unaviti_, to kill). The
historian Dlugosz identifies a god Nya, ruler of the Underworld and
the souls of the dead, with Pluto; and another possibility is that the
word _nav_ still lingers in the Little Russian _mavka_ or _navka_, a
species of elf or nymph, believed to be the spirit of an unbaptized

It is most likely that the terms _raj_ and _peklo_ were formerly
synonymous with _nav_--that is, designated a Hades where life continued
much the same as on the earth; but in later times _raj_ came to signify
the Elysian fields, _peklo_ Tartarus. Both words occur prior to the
introduction of Christianity, although Christianity modified their use.
The derivation of _raj_ cannot be traced with any certainty. It appears
elsewhere as _vuirei,_ said to be connected with the Elysian _vireta_
of Virgil. It is generally pictured as an island far out in the sea, a
place of eternal sunshine and happiness, where dwell the souls not only
of the dead, but of those who have not yet been born. Here also are the
birds that in autumn take flight from the earth-world, and the seeds
of the flowers that have perished; types of all things that vanish
from the earth in winter are here preserved, to be restored to the
waiting world in spring-time. The mystic isle of Buyán is one variant
of the _raj_. Its name is probably derived from an adjective signifying
'burning,' 'ardent,' or 'fruitful,' and the isle itself is connected
with the idea of the sun, of warmth, intense light, and fruitfulness.
Buyán is the resting-place of the white stone Alatnir, a potent magical
instrument frequently mentioned in spells and charms. Like everything
else connected with Buyán, Alatnir is of burning, dazzling brilliance.

_Peklo_ also was associated with the idea of heat, possessing
affinities with the verb _pech_, to parch; but whereas _raj_ came
to signify Paradise, _peklo_, under the influence of Christian
ideas, became identified later with the infernal regions, a place of
punishment for the wicked dead. In modern folklore we find mention of
a subterranean place of the dead called _Ad_, inhabited by demons who
torment the souls of evil-doers; the corresponding Heaven (of the "Jack
and the Beanstalk" kind) is equally vague and indeterminate; and both
have been so evidently influenced by Christian conceptions that they
reveal but little of their pagan ancestry.

The _nav_ of the ancients was reached by various ways. Sometimes,
as has been indicated, the soul had to traverse a wide sea in the
boat-shaped coffin provided by relatives left on earth. Sometimes,
again, the journey was accomplished on foot, when a pair of boots was
provided; or the soul might have to climb a mountain of iron or glass,
and for this the parings of its mortal nails were laid in the coffin.
The road leading to the celestial regions was generally the Milky Way,
though sometimes the rainbow was trodden by the dead. In either case
popular imagination pictured the _nav_ a long distance away.


Besides a belief in a land of the dead, the Celts had an Otherworld
to which favoured mortals might penetrate. This region possessed
many names--Mag Mor, the Great Plain; Tir n' Aill, the Otherworld;
Tir-nan-og, the Land of Youth, the Shining Land; and so forth. It is
also called in Celtic myth the Isle of the Men of Falga, Falga being
an old name for the Isle of Man, which was connected with the god
Manannan, lord of the under-seas.

This Celtic Elysium was sometimes beyond the seas, sometimes under the
seas, or it might be situated in the hollow hills; and sometimes it
was the abode of the _Sidhe_ or elder gods. It is alluded to in the
Voyage of Bran, in the Cuchulainn cycle, and in the tale of Laegaire
mac Crimthainn. In Celtic myth it was clearly distinguished from the
subterranean place of the dead; it was a blessed region which only a
favoured few might hope to reach during life. The subterranean home of
the earth-gods is sometimes a place of the dead, because Celtic myth is
predominantly agricultural.

The Otherworld, shrouded by mist, was upon the same plane as the
terrestrial, or sometimes co-extensive with it. There dwelt the
gods and other supernatural beings. It had some resemblance to the
Mohammedan Paradise in its purely material delights, yet was not
without its spiritual aspect. It conferred oblivion for a term of years
on those who visited it, like that later Land of Faerie where long
forgetfulness awaits the wight who wanders in its enchanted glades. The
Celtic Elysium is the first step in the evolution of a Heaven.

The gods connected with it were Manannan and Lug, the sun-god, probably
because it lay in the western sea.

Some think that the Celtic Elysium was coloured by Christian story, but
such a very sensuous Paradise possesses little of the character of a
Christian Heaven.


Various destinations awaited the dead in ancient Mexico. Warriors slain
in battle repaired to the sun, where they dwelt in bliss with the
deity who presided over that luminary; and sacrificed captives also
fared thither. These followed the sun in his course, crying aloud and
beating upon their shields. "It is also said," writes old Sahagun in
his _History of the Affairs of New Spain_,[4] "that in this heaven are
trees and forests of diverse sorts. The offerings which the living of
this world make to the dead duly arrive at their destination, and are
received in this heaven. After four years of sojourn in that place the
souls of the dead are changed into diverse species of birds, having
rich plumage of the most brilliant colours,"[5] These were known as
_tzinzonme_ ('little bird which flies from flower to flower'), and they
flitted from blossom to blossom on earth as well as in Heaven, sucking
the rich fragrance from the tropical blooms of the deep valleys of

Tlalocan, an even more material Paradise, was that of the water-god or
deity of moisture, Tlaloc. Sahagun calls this a "terrestrial Paradise"
"where they feign that there is surfeit of pleasure and refreshment,
void for a space of torment." In that delectable region there is
plenteousness of green maize, of calabashes, pepper, tomatoes, and
haricots, and it is filled with variegated blossoms. There dwell
the god Tlaloc and his followers. The persons who gain admittance
are those slain by lightning or thunderbolt, the leprous, and the
dropsical--those whose deaths have in any way been caused _through the
agency of water_--for Tlaloc is god of that element; and existence
there is perpetual. The Paradise of Tlaloc was situated in the
mountains, in a climate of eternal summer.


The Hades of the Aztec race was Mictlan, presided over by
Mictlantecutli (Lord of Mictlan) and his spouse (Mictecaciuatl). The
souls of the defunct who fared thither were those who died of disease,
chiefs, great personages, or humbler folk. On the day of death the
priest harangued the deceased, telling him that he was about to fare
to a region "where there is neither light nor window," but all was
shadow--a veritable land of chiaroscuro, reached by a route swarming
with grisly inimical forms. On arrival at the dreary court of Mictlan
the defunct offered gifts to its lord--coloured paper, perfumes, and
torches, mantles and other apparel, provided before cremation. It was a
four years' journey to the first of the nine Hells of Mictlan, over a
deep and wide river, on whose shores dwelt the dogs providently buried
with the dead and employed to carry them across the stream.

Above the nine Hells of Mictlan were thirteen Heavens, the first
containing planets, the second the Tzitzimime, or demons, the third the
Centzon Mimizcoa, or four hundred stars of the Northern Hemisphere.
The fourth was inhabited by birds, the fifth by fire-snakes (perhaps
comets); the sixth was the home of the winds; the seventh harboured
dust; and in the eighth dwelt gods. The remainder were placed at the
disposal of the high primal and creative gods, Tonacatecutli and his
spouse Tonacaciuatl, whose particular home was in the thirteenth and
highest Heaven.


The red men of North and South America knew no place of future reward
or punishment. They regarded the future life merely as a shadowy
extension of this--more wonderful, more supernatural, perhaps more
desirable because of its material delights, but still of the earth
earthy. The land of the sun was for them the land of future bliss.

"Where the sun lives," they informed the earliest foreign visitors,
were the villages of the deceased, and the Milky Way which nightly
spans the arch of Heaven was, in their opinion, the road thither, and
was called the path of souls (_le chemin des âmes_). To _Hueyu ku_,
the mansion of the sun, said the Caribs, the soul passes when death
overtakes the body. To the warm South-west, whence blows the wind which
brings the sunny days and the ripening corn, said the New England
natives to Roger Williams, will all souls go.

"Our knowledge is scanty of the doctrines taught by the Incas
concerning the soul, but this much we do know, that they looked to the
sun, their recognised lord and protector, as he who would care for them
at death, and admit them to his palaces. There--not indeed, exquisite
joys--but a life of unruffled placidity, void of labour, vacant of
strong emotions, a sort of material Nirvana, awaited them."[6]

From Peru to the coast of Brazil, the savage millions who inhabited
that great stretch of watered forest pointed to the west, to the region
beyond the mountains or the blessed abode of their ancestors, where in
a continual state of intoxication they whiled away the hours of bliss.
The people of the Pampas and Patagonia considered the sky to be the
home of the dead, where they dwelt as stars. During the night they
patrol the sky, but at sunrise flock around the great luminary and are
bitten by his beams.

The Hurons, Iroquois, Chippeway, Algonquins, and Dakotas all told of a
deep and swift stream that the soul must cross, bridged either by an
enormous snake, a slender tree, or by some other precarious means, such
as a stone canoe.

In old Peru, Çupay, the shadow, ruled a land of shades in the centre of
the earth. To him went all souls not destined to be the companions of
the sun. But, like nearly all savage Hells, this was merely a 'place
of the dead' and not a place of retribution. Xibalba, the Hades of
the Kiches of Guatemala, was a grisly Underworld ruled by a veritable
secret society having-rules of initiation. The name is derived from
a root meaning 'to fear,' from which also comes the Maya term for
'phantom' or 'ghost,' and this derivation shows it to have been a
place of the dead. In the _Popol Vuh_, the sacred and traditional book
of the Kiches, we find nothing to indicate that Xibalba was a place
of punishment. Those who entered it had to undergo tests analogous
to those which a Red Indian must endure upon his initiation into any
of the numerous esoteric societies still to be found among American
barbarians; but torment is otherwise absent. The scenery of Xibalba is
varied. It is gloomy, with a river of blood, a stream full of gourds,
plantations of calabashes, courts for the ball-game, in which its
lords are very expert, and stone buildings. It is ruled by grim lords,
One-Death and Seven-Deaths. It is stated in the _Popol Vuh_ that these
were more 'devils' than gods. "In the old times they did not have much
power. They were but avengers and opposers of men, and, in truth, they
were not regarded as gods."


The Chinooks believe that after death the spirit of the deceased drinks
at a large hole in the ground, after which it shrinks and passes on
to the country of the ghosts, where it is fed with spirit food. After
drinking of the water and partaking of the fare of spirit-land, the
soul becomes the irrevocable property of the dead, and may not return
to earth. But every person is possessed of two spirits, a greater
and a lesser, and during sickness it is this lesser soul which is
spirited away by the denizens of ghost-land. The Navahos have a similar
belief. They assert that in the personal soul there is none of the
vital force which animates the body, nor any of the mental power,
but a third entity, a sort of spiritual body (like the _ka_ of the
ancient Egyptians), which may leave its owner and become lost, much to
his danger and discomfort. Among the Mexicans a similar spirit-body
('tonal') was recognized, much the same in character, indeed, as the
'astral body' of modern spiritualism. Among them, as with the Maya of
Yucatan, it came into existence with the name, and for this reason the
personal name was sacred and rarely uttered. It was regarded as part of
the individuality, and through it the ego might be injured. This belief
is general among the aboriginal peoples of both Americas.

In the country of the ghosts we see a striking analogy to the old
classical idea of Hades. It is a place of windless, soundless
half-dusk, inhabited by shadows who shrink from tumult of any
description, and pass a sort of shadowy extension of earthly life. It
is to be sharply distinguished from the country of the 'Supernatural
People,' who lead a much more satisfying existence.

There are other and still more mysterious regions in the sky, recorded
in the Amerindian myth of Aqas Xenas Xena. It tells how a boy who has
slain his mother mounts to the celestial sphere by a chain fastened to
the end of an arrow. He first meets the Darkness, and is then accosted
by the evening star, who asks if he has seen his game, and explains
that he is hunting men. He reaches the house of the evening star, and
finds his sons and daughter at home counting over the game-bag of the
day--dead folk. The daughter is the moon. The same thing occurs in
the house of the morning star, whose daughter is the sun. The sons of
the one star are at war with those of the other. He marries the moon,
and has children united in the middle. He returns to earth with his
wife and progeny, whom Blue Jay separates, and they die, returning
to the Sky with their mother and becoming the 'sun-dogs.' In this
day and night myth we recognize the widespread belief in celestial
regions where man exists not after death, a belief common to nearly all
American mythologies.

There is a similar myth relating to the sun, which is kept in the hut
of an old woman dwelling in the skies. From her an adventurous hero
obtains a blanket to render him immune. The myth was probably invented
to explain sunstroke.

In his work on the Lengua Indians of South America Mr W. B. Grubb gives
this account of their beliefs:

"The unseen world in its relation to man is naturally much more clearly
defined by the Indian. He holds that the _aphangak_ or departed souls
of men in the shade world (_pischischi,_ shadows) merely continue their
present life, only of course in a disembodied state. The souls of the
departed are supposed, in the ethereal state, to correspond exactly
in form and characteristics with the bodies they have left. A tall
man and a short man remain tall and short as spirits; a deformed man
remains deformed. A kindly-natured man continues so in shade-land. A
witch-doctor, or a great chief, feared and respected in the body, is
feared and respected in the spirit-world. Those who were related in
this world associate with each other in the next. Departed spirits
continue the same tribal and clan life as when in the body. The spirit
of a child remains a child and does not develop, and for this reason is
not feared. Infanticide is not regarded as murder in the same degree
as the murder of an adult. No punishment follows the murderer of an
infant, nor is its murder attended by the ordinary superstitious fears.
A murderer--that is, according to the Indian idea, a man who kills one
of his own tribe--is not only executed for the crime, but his body is
burnt, and the ashes scattered to the four winds. The Indian believes
that after such treatment his spirit cannot take human form, and
remains in the after-world shapeless and unrecognizable, and therefore
unable to mingle with its kindred spirits, or to enjoy such social
intercourse as exists.

"The _aphangak_ is supposed to hunt, travel, garden, and carry on more
or less his old life, but of course in spirit form, and pursuing only
spiritual essences. The spirits of the dead appear to take no interest
in the living, nor, beyond causing uncanny feelings when supposed to
be hovering about, do they seem in the least to influence those left
behind. Their very names are not mentioned, and every effort is made by
the living to forget them....

"Speaking generally, three ideas seem to prevail regarding the future
abode of the soul. The lower type of Indian holds that the _aphangak_
continues to wander disconsolately about the country in company with
its kindred spirits, while the more intelligent are of opinion that it
moves over to the west, to the cities of the dead, already referred
to in dealing with their origin. A few, however, hold a view similar
to that prevailing among the Southern tribes--namely, that the dead
inhabit a world beneath the earth.

"The lower creation, with the exception of fish and serpents, are
supposed to share immortality with men. Birds, cattle, and the
carnivora, especially of the leading types, figure largely in their
beliefs of the shade-world, as also the dog, jaguar, horse, ostrich,
and the thunder-bird."


Among African savages generally the life of the dead is merely an
extension of earth-life. In the Kimbunda district of South-west Africa
the dead dwell in a region called Kalunga, where they have plenty of
provisions and an abundance of female servitors. They engage in the
dance and the chase for pastime. In Kalunga the sun shines when it is
night in the world of mortals. The Basutos believe in an Otherworld of
green valleys, where the dead own herds of hornless and speckled cattle
from which they can draw sustenance. Others of the same people believe
that the dead wander about in silent reserve, with no feelings of joy
or sorrow to agitate them or disturb what seems to be a condition of
nescience. There is no moral retribution. The West Africans do not seem
to believe in a 'land of heart's desire.' The Dahomans hold that in the
Otherworld social status will be unchanged. Thus the king will retain
his sovereignty and the slave his serfdom 'for ever.' He also credits
the existence of another land beyond the grave, 'Ku-to-men' or Dead
Man's Land, a place of ghosts and shadows. Turning southward again, the
Zulus think that after death their souls proceed to the land of the
Abapansi or underground folk.


In Borneo the Idaan race have a Heaven which is to be seen. Indeed,
it is situated on the summit of Mount Kina Balu, on whose peak no
native guide would pass the night. There the adventurous traveller is
shown the moss on which the spirits feed, and the hoof-prints of their
ghostly herds of buffalo. The Sajera of West Java possess another such
Heaven on the summit of Tunung Danka. It took Mr Jonathan Rigg ten
years to discover this fact among a population outwardly professing
Mohammedanism.[7] The Fijians consider that Bolotu, the island of
the gods, lies in the ocean north-west of Tonga. It is extensive
and is replete with everything which can make for an existence of
physical satisfaction. Like the Norsemen, they believe that the swine
slaughtered in their Paradise will reappear when again required for the
feast. The Samoan Otherworld is a mere shadowy replica of this.


From these data several considerations of importance arise. We see that
among the classical religions of antiquity--the Egyptian, Babylonian,
Hebrew, for example--the idea of judgment, retribution, and reward
arose in connexion with their places of bliss and punishment. On the
other hand, we find in the myths of the Teutons, Mexicans, and people
in the barbaric stages generally that a place of bliss is reserved, in
most cases, for the warrior, while those who die a 'straw death' are
deemed unfit to enter the Valhalla of the brave. Still further down
in the scale of civilization we see that Africans, American Indians,
Fijians, and other people in a state of savagery more or less, regard
the future dwelling-place of the soul as a pale reflex of the world in
which they have been accustomed to dwell--sometimes with mitigating
circumstances and improved surroundings. Thus the savage hunts,
gorges himself, and wallows in happy intoxication; the more advanced
barbarian comports himself as a warrior and feasts homerically; while
the civilized man must be judged ere he can betake himself to an
immortal destination of bliss or torture. Only in the higher reaches
of civilization does any idea of judgment, retribution, or reward, as
distinguished from mere sensuous pleasure, enter into the future life.

There is one strange exception to this rule, and that is Greece. This
is probably because Greek ethics was nurtured more upon philosophic
than religious ideals. We find the exact opposite of the philosophic
ethics of Hellas in the drastic religious morality of the Semitic race.
The idea of judgment is seen only in early Greek myth.

But the most important question for us, discussing the manufacture
and evolution of myth, is: How far have ethical promptings influenced
mythic conceptions of a place of future reward or punishment?

They have influenced it very powerfully. Let us regard these beliefs
in the line of their evolution. In primitive (_i.e_., savage)
civilization we find a mere home of the dead, like that of the peoples
of the north-west coast of America, the Samoans, or the peoples of
Western Africa. The dead there may be kings or medicine-men, warriors
or slaves, as in the mortal life, but there is no ruler, no Pluto or
Satan. Later, in the barbaric stage, we find monarchs or arch-devils,
such as Mictlantecutli of Mexico, Çupay of Peru, or Hel of Scandinavia.
These, however, are merely there from a supposed necessity for a
headship, or because they chance to be corn-spirits like the Greek
Persephone; for agricultural spirits usually reside in the earth.
Indeed the myth of Persephone well illustrates the adaptation of a
corn-spirit to the lordship (or ladyship) of Hades, and probably
represents a fusion of myths in which that of the corn-spirit was
grafted on to the already accepted lord of the place of the dead.
The daughter of the chief of Xibalba, the Kiche Hell, is also a
corn-spirit, as witness her gathering of a basket of maize where no
maize had grown before; and even Osiris, great god of the Egyptian
dead, was primarily connected with the 'agricultural interest.'

It is only in the higher stages of religion, when ethical significance
has become a _fait accompli_, that we find the god of the Otherworld
metamorphosed into a judge who disposes of the souls of men according
to their deserts. Thus we find that ethical ideas strongly affect the
mythic character of the lords of the Otherworld, and may alter them
from mere presiding demons into god-like arbiters of the fate of the
soul. Further, the introduction, evolution, or acceptance of ethical
ideas may entirely alter the scenery and geography of the Hades myth,
and from a nebulous environment of ghostly savagery the place of the
dead may on the one hand blossom into a sensuous Paradise or flash into
flame as Gehenna.


The manner in which Heaven, the place of bliss, came to be associated
with the sky and the region of woe with the Underworld is worthy of
brief consideration. We have seen that many various peoples--Celts,
Indians, Fijians--believed their Paradise, their 'land of heart's
desire,' to be in the west, where sinks the dying sun. To the mind
of primitive man the sun was the source of all good, the nourisher,
the giver of light; and no bliss greater than that of accompanying
him in his course through the heavens could be imagined. Man beheld
him sink and die in the waves of ocean or behind the peaks of the
great mountains, and, comparing this with the death of his own kind,
concluded that the luminary betook himself to rest in some region
beyond the verge of sea or sierra. "If the souls of the dead follow the
sun it must be to such a region," he would argue: so would arise the
concept of a Tir-nan-og, a sun-Paradise beyond the world's rim.[8]

Not thus did all religious philosophers of old time reason--not thus
the mythographers of Babylon, for example, those astrologer-priests who
watched from tower and temple the wheelings of the white host of stars
which silvered the skies above the city of Bel. These had identified
the various gods in their pantheon with the stars and heavenly bodies.
Once this had been done it is easy to understand how the gods were
conceived as dwelling in the sky. Races who believed in a Paradise
beyond the setting sun did not place their great divinities in the
sky. The Celtic gods lived in their sunset Elysium; the deities of the
Samoan tale dwell in an island Paradise. Roughly, peoples dwelling near
the western sea (Celts, West Africans, North-west American Indians,
etc.) locate their Paradise beneath the rim of ocean; peoples dwelling
at the foot of mountain ranges (Greeks, Javanese, etc.) believe the
Otherworld to be situated on their summits; while peoples dwelling
in plains or deserts (Plains Indians, Babylonians, certain Egyptian
castes, etc.) place their Heaven in the sky among the constellations.


On the other hand, the Otherworld becomes the Underworld, because of
the subterranean burial of the dead. Under the earth is the home of
the dead, and there rest their shades or spirits. The Greeks believed
Hades to be situated only twelve feet beneath the surface of the soil.
Again, the practice of burial in caverns may have assisted this belief.
The scenery of the Otherworld, from Homer to Dante, is decidedly
cavernous. The lords of Hell are frequently the gods of a conquered or
subject race, relegated to the Underworld by the policy or contempt of
the conquerors. Thus the Irish Tuatha de Danann, who dwell underground,
were once the chief gods of Ireland, and were displaced by an incoming
people; and we can trace in the gigantic figure of Osiris the primeval
god of an agricultural people placed over the popular world of the
Egyptian dead, partly perhaps by the deliberate policy of the priests
of Ra, partly by reason of his status as a corn-god, and developing
into the great ruler of the realm of the dead.

[1] See above, p. 122.

[2] _The Gods of the Egyptians_, vol. i, pp. 264-265.

[3] The writer does not recall having read this passage until a few
weeks ago, yet in a volume of verse published in 1913 he included some
stanzas the two last of which offer such a striking resemblance to the
Biblical verses just quoted that he ventures to print them here as
an example of the manner in which the imagination of men may run on
similar lines, although centuries of time separate them:


    Do ye hearken, ye dead, with your faces so nobly quiet,
    Do ye list to the lays that are sung, and the lusts that are said,
    Do ye wot of the frenzies, the fears, the desires, and the riot,
                  Do ye hearken, ye dead?

    "O'er our lips and our hearts are the sods and the cerements spread,
    But we hearken the harps and the whispers, the songs that ye sigh at,
    All your manifold furies and fears do we list in our bed.

    "We would rise, we would rise to partake of your doom and your diet,
    But on lips and on eyes the worms and the vampires have fed,
    We can kiss, we can smile not--awaiting eternity's fiat.
                  We hearken, we dead!"

[4] Appendix to Book III, chap. iii.

[5] I quote from my own manuscript translation of Sagahun.

[6] Brinton, _Myths of the New World._

[7] _Journal of the Indian Archipelago_, vol. iv, p. 119.

[8] Compare the recently coined (?) war phrase or idiom 'gone west.'



Folk-tale, and indeed folklore of every description, is worthy of
study by the student of myth; for not only will he often find that
the principles which govern it are identical with those of myth, but
he will glean much knowledge of methods from those who work this
neighbouring row in the vineyard of tradition.

Some people regard mythology as merely a branch of wider study of
folklore, but in the definitions in the first the chapter of this
work we called the former "the study of a primitive or early form of
religion while it was a living faith," and folklore "the study of
primitive religion and customs still practised." Let us now examine the
writings of the great authorities on folklore and see what they have to
say upon this interesting subject.

Sir George Gomme, in his _Folklore as an Historical Science_ (p. 148),
says: "The folk-tale is secondary to the myth. It is the primitive
myth dislodged from its primitive place. It has become a part of the
life of the people independently of its primary form and object and
in a different sense. The mythic or historic fact has been obscured,
or has been displaced from the life of the people. But the myth lives
on through the affections of the people for the traditions of their
older life. They love to tell the story which their ancestors revered
as myth, even though it has lost its oldest and most impressive
significance. The artistic setting of it, born of the years through
which it has lived, fashioned by the minds which have handed it down
and embellished it through the generations, has helped its life. It
has become the fairy tale or the nursery tale. It is told to grown-up
people, not as belief, but as what was once believed; it is told to
children, not to men; to lovers of romance, not to worshippers of the
unknown; it is told by mothers and nurses, not by philosophers or
priestesses; in the gathering ground of home life, or in the nursery,
not in the hushed sanctity of a great wonder."

Coming down to hard-and-fast definition, Sir George Gomme says: "The
myth belongs to the most primitive stages of human thought, and is the
recognisable explanation of some natural phenomenon, some forgotten or
unknown object of human origin, or some event of lasting influence; the
folk-tale is a survival preserved amidst culture-surroundings of a more
advanced stage, and deals with events and ideas of primitive times in
terms of the experience or of episodes in the lives of unnamed human
beings; the legend belongs to an historical personage, locality, or
event. These are new definitions, and are suggested in order to give
some sort of exactness to the terms in use. All these terms--myth,
folk-tale, and legend--are now used indiscriminately with no particular
definiteness. The possession of three such distinct terms forms an
asset which should be put to its full use, and this cannot be done
until we agree upon a definite meaning for each."

Dean Macculloch in his valuable _Childhood of Fiction_ (p. 432) says:
"The mythological school represented by the writings of De Gubernatis,
Cox, Max Müller, and others, have found the origin of folk-tales in
the myths of the Aryan race. Folk-tales are the detritus of such Aryan
myths, when the meaning of the myths themselves was long forgotten. The
whole theory falls to the ground when it is discovered that exactly
similar stories are told by non-Aryan races, and that the incidents
of such stories are easily explainable by actual customs and ideas
of savages and primitive folk everywhere. On the other hand, many
folk-tales have originated as myths explanatory of existing customs,
or by way of explaining phenomena which seemed to depend on these
customs, and when the customs fell into desuetude the myths remained
as folk-tales. The incidents of existing folk-tales, again, have
frequently been embodied in mythologies--Greek, Celtic, Japanese.
Thus there is throughout an intimate connection between mythology and
folk-tales, though not of the kind which De Gubernatis and others
imagined." Again: "Folk-tales have a vital connection with myth and
saga, though the connection is far from that insisted on by Max Müller
and the mythological school. Still another link of connection may be
perceived in many European _Märchen_, where the gods and mythic figures
of an earlier faith have been metamorphosed into ogres, witches,
and fairies, and where the dimly-remembered customs of that earlier
religion have supplied incidents for the story inventor of a later age."

In a note to his _Mythology and Folklore_ (p. 7) Sir George Cox
furnishes the philological view of the relation of mythology to
folklore: "It is, perhaps, open to doubt whether the terms mythology
and folklore are likely to retain permanently their present relative
meanings. Neither term is altogether satisfactory; but the distinction
between tales susceptible of philological analysis and those which are
not must nevertheless be carefully maintained, as indispensable to
any scientific treatment of the subject. In his introduction to _The
Science of Language_ Mr Sayce admits 'that it is often difficult to
draw the line between folklore and mythology, to define exactly where
the one ends and the other begins, and there are many instances in
which the two terms overlap one another.'"

It is demonstrable that the author of the term folklore, the late Mr
W. J. Thorns (1803-1885), deputy librarian of the House of Lords and
founder and editor of _Notes and Queries,_ did not intend it to include
mythology. He said that he intended it to designate "that department
of the study of antiquities and archæology which embraces everything
relating to ancient observances and customs, to the notions, beliefs,
traditions, superstitions, and prejudices of the common people." It
will be remarked that this definition does not include "the study of a
primitive or early religion _while it was a living faith_."

But the study of folklore is, as has been said, greatly capable of
assisting the student of myth. A Roman sword or a Saxon cup exhumed
after many centuries are no less the blade once wielded by a Roman,
or the vessel from which the Saxon imbibed, solely because centuries
have elapsed since they were in use by their original owners, nor do
they fail to yield us information concerning the lives and habits of
those to whom they belonged. In the same manner a story or custom long
embedded in the earth of superstition is no less capable of throwing
light upon ancient religion and thus upon ancient myth. Many folk-tales
are merely 'broken-down' myths, but by no means _all_ folk-tales are
so, as numbers were invented for purposes of amusement and partake of
the character of fiction.

As an instance of the manner in which folk-belief can influence true
myth we have only to look at the tales of the Knights of the Round
Table. Arthur, Merlin, and many of the lesser figures of the galaxy
of Camelot are in reality British Celtic deities metamorphosed into
medieval knights. A similar instance, perhaps of added interest because
of its novelty, has recently come under the notice of the writer.


The story of St Triduana and her healing well, situated at Restalrig,
near Edinburgh, is a tale of the kind the student of myth delights to
encounter; for what may appear to the uninitiated to be an ordinary
saintly legend is, he readily sees, a fragment of true myth.

The story of the sainted lady who, in her latter days, dwelt at
Restalrig, or Lestalryk, is in the grand style, and combines the
poignant pathos of Euripidean tragedy with the fanaticism of mistaken
religious zeal. The glorious virgin Triduana of Colosse, we are told,
arrived in Scotland from Achaia, in Greece, with the holy St Regulus,
or Rule, the traditional founder of St Andrews, at some date between
A.D. 237 and the eighth century. This mission was evidently that
entrusted to bring the relics of St Andrew to Scotland and charged with
the plantation of the Christian faith in that country. The lady found
a retreat at Rescobie, in Forfarshire, where she dwelt in great piety;
but her Grecian beauty proved a snare for the susceptibilities of the
Pictish king Nectanivan or Nechtan, who became hotly enamoured of her.
Flying before his zealous wooing, she came to Dunfallandy in Athol,
where his emissaries speedily discovered her. Perturbed and seemingly
incredulous that a monarch should rate her charms so highly, Triduana
asked of the King's messengers what so great a prince desired of her,
a poor virgin dedicated to God. The reply was couched in terms which
betray the Celt, and we are left with the firm conviction that he who
vouchsafed it was none other than the King's _seanachaidh_ or bard.
"He desireth," said that person, "the most excellent beauty of thine
eyes, which if he obtain not he will surely die." Triduana's retort was
typical of the Christian martyr, and we are left wondering whether she
was possessed with a fanaticism which surpassed her sense of humour, or
of a grim penchant for the ridiculous which transcended all fanaticism.
"What he seeketh he shall surely have," she exclaimed, and thereupon
she plucked out her eyes, skewered them on a thorn, and handed them
to the King's messengers with the words: "Take that which your prince
desireth." Later she betook herself to Restalrig, where she pursued the
life religious until her death.

Throughout the Middle Ages the shrine and well of St Triduana were
famous for the cure of blindness, and to it came pilgrims from all
parts of Scotland and the north of England. Sir David Lyndsay makes two
allusions to it. Devotees thronged to St Tredwell, he says, "to mend
their eine," and again he states in his curious inventory of saints in
_The Monarchie_:

    Sanct Tredwall, als, thare may be sene
    Quhilk on ane prick hes baith her ene.

At Rescobie, her first place of sojourn in Scotland, each September
brought round a St Trodlin's Fair.

Authorities are divided as to the exact site of St Triduana's Well.
Indeed, much confusion attaches to the subject. A well dedicated
to St Margaret, and roofed by a structure obviously copied from or
copied by the chapter-house hard by Restalrig Church, stood for many
generations on a site now covered by the locomotive works of the North
British Railway Company. (Its groined roof now shelters _another_ St
Margaret's Well in the King's Park.) This well I do not believe to
have been, as is generally stated, that of St Triduana, afterward known
as St Margaret's. I incline to the belief that the building known as
the 'chapter-house,' close to Restalrig Church, and almost certainly
a chapel of St Triduana, sheltered the original well. This building
was erected at the close of the fifteenth century, and was probably
the second or third so raised over the miraculous well to which came
the stricken from all over broad Scotland. It is a notable fact that
since the restoration of this chapter-house modern engineering skill
has proved unequal to the task of stemming the flow of water, which
constantly remains at the same level here. Was not this, then, the
ancient bath-house of the shrine of St Trid, down whose steps groped
the sightless in hope of the precious boon of light?

What is the mythical kernel to this saintly tale?

Firstly, be it noted, St Triduana does not figure in the Roman calendar.

Secondly, such wells as hers are by no means uncommon in Britain.
Well-worship is still to be traced in the Celtic or semi-Celtic
portions of the country--Wales, Lancashire, and Scotland. In Teutonic
Southern England, although many wells are still known as 'holy,' no
trace of any reason for regarding them as such remains; but a fully
developed ritual is still observed in drawing from many wells in Wales.
Thus at St Tegla's Well, near Wrexham, coppers are cast into the water,
the well is thrice perambulated, and a cock left as an offering by the
patient who suffers from epilepsy. Semi-Celtic Shropshire, too, is rich
in wells which cure sore eyes, and Miss C. S. Burne of that county, in
_Shropshire Folklore_, suggests that the legend in the Scandinavian
prose Edda of Odin giving his eye in return for a draught of water
from the wisdom-giving well of Mimir might perhaps account for it. I
myself had arrived at the same conclusion before perusing Miss Burne's
work, and I further think that the theory is strengthened by Odin being
a sun-god; the round 'eye' of the sun pierces the depths of the dark
water in which it is reflected. Indeed I advanced some such explanation
in the article "Mimir" in my _Dictionary of Mythology_, published in

We know that after the introduction of Christianity into ancient
Gaul those well-spirits in which Celtic imagination delighted were
frequently metamorphosed into saints, and that the teeming Gallic
pantheon added many a name to the calendar of Rome. May not the same
be true of our Restalrig saint? The name is obviously Latinized. It
appears as 'Triduana' in a charter of James IV, but to the people she
was St Trid, and we have seen that Rescobie folk called her Trodlin--an
affectionate diminutive. We probably have in Trid-well a spot where
the mystic rites of some Celtic goddess of the spring were celebrated.
Was not the 'Young Tamlane' of Carterhaugh, near Selkirk, such a
well-spirit or deity?

    There's nane that goes by Carterhaugh
    But maun leave him a wad

or pledge. Also he was "a wee, wee man." The portion of the ballad
that makes him a mortal kidnapped by fairies is only a clumsy late
explanation of the older myth of well-sprite or god, obviously lurking
beneath. Is Triduana the old British goddess Keridwen who possessed
the mystic cauldron Amen, conferring inspiration (or clear sight) on
whoever drank of its waters?

Another good example of myth run to seed in folk-tale is the fairly
widespread story of the musician who ventures to explore an underground
passage, and never returns. The mythological pedigree of this tale
is very clear indeed; but it seems better in the interests of the
reader (having first reasoned from effect to cause) to reverse the
usual method of folklore for once and argue from known cause to
effect. Starting, then, with such myths as those of Orpheus, Ishtar,
and others, in which the object is to demonstrate how death may be
vanquished and the dead restored, we find the plot turned to the uses
of folklore, the heroes entering upon a quest in the Underworld of
Fairyland or the abode of a dishonoured goddess, rather than in the
sad shades of Hades. Thus Ogier the Dane essays the Land of Faerie,
and Tannhäuser enters the Hill of Venus or Holda--the Hörselberg--as
Thomas the Rhymer enters the Hill of Ercildoune. Is there a formula?
Can we reduce the general circumstances to a least common denominator
something like this?

An adventurous person, usually a musician or maker of poetry, ventures
underground (1) in myth to recover a beloved one from the clutches of
death, (2) in folklore to gain the love of the Queen of Faerie, or some
discredited goddess who takes her place.

But we have not yet plumbed the depths of mythic degeneration. From the
allurements of Fairyland we descend still farther to the more dusty
shadows of the underground passage. Very numerous are the local tales
which tell of these. Thus in Edinburgh a piper accompanied by his dog
(for so were the dead ever accompanied in primitive times) dares the
dangers of an underground passage from the cliff-perched Castle to
Holyrood Palace. The sound of his pipes guides those who follow his
progress standing in the streets above, but at a certain point the
music ceases and the piper never returns.


In this volume it has been the policy of the author to give where
possible examples which have come within his own personal notice,
thus avoiding such as have done service again and again in works on
myth and folklore; but to show how a folk-tale of universal fame and
interest may become localized we will repeat one of these here. The
Faust legend, based upon the pact with Satan, has many variants; but
surely it is surprising to a degree to discover it as a local story in
a Scottish lowland community.

Persons who sell themselves to the Devil are met with in the popular
fiction of all European countries; but the legend of the 'Warlock
Laird' of Leith, or its _dénouement_ at least, so closely resembles the
Faust story that we can hardly help ascribing a common origin to them.

In that part of Leith once known as the Lees quarter resided a person
known as the Warlock Laird. His house was dissimilar from those which
surrounded it, for although the portion which served as a dwelling was
only one story in height, from the back of it rose a tall, circular
tower about fifty feet high, enriched with curious little turrets and
lit with many strange windows. For what purpose the tower had been
erected is not known, and although it had been built for many years
when Gordon first took up residence in the cottage attached to it, it
was locally understood that he had erected it for the convenience of
private consultations with the enemy of mankind. In popular romance a
magician usually does business in a tower; _ergo_, a magician must have
a tower; or is it necessary that every tower should have its magician?
However that may be, Gordon, not a native, and well past middle age
when he came to reside in Leith, specially selected this house as most
suitable to his requirements, whatever those requirements were.

He gave out that he had spent many years at sea. When he first came
his resources were slender, and he was glad to accept the situation of
a labourer in a cooper's yard for a very small weekly stipend. When
he had been for some months in this employment, he requested leave of
absence for a week. On his return at the termination of that period it
was remarked that he appeared to be better off than before: he looked
sleeker, wore good clothes, and had money to spend; but he continued
his work, and matters took their normal course until, a year later,
he asked for another holiday. At the expiry of this vacation a still
more marked change was visible in his circumstances: he purchased a
ruinous old house and gave more for it than was considered fair value.
Suspicion began to be aroused among his neighbours. He spent his money
freely, and this in itself may have suggested that he must have come by
it lightly. It was even whispered that he had been a pirate, and that
he was drawing gold from some hidden hoard as necessity arose. Once
more he demanded a holiday, and his request was granted as usual, but
this time he was not permitted to go away without a watch being set
upon his movements. Those who had resolved to observe his actions while
on holiday were rather disappointed, as on the first day of his leave
he remained at home all the time. But on the following day he took ship
for Kirkcaldy, on the sands of which he landed without any suspicions
that he was being watched by a person, disguised as an elderly woman,
sitting next him in the boat.

When Gordon landed he made straight for an inn, where he ordered a
copious supply of liquor. After a brief exit he returned with half a
dozen boatmen dressed in their best, and commenced a drinking-bout
which lasted until two o'clock next morning. For two successive days
after this he loafed about the town and the shore, chatting with
the boatmen, much to the annoyance of the person who was engaged to
watch his movements. Two days only remained now, and on the morning
of the sixth day of his holiday he was seen to embark in a ferryman's
boat, in which he proceeded down the Firth alone. His follower found
some difficulty in hiring a craft, and by the time he had procured
one Gordon's little vessel was concealed behind the huge bulk of
Inchkeith. The boatman who hired out the vessel to the spy insisted on
accompanying him, and he had perforce to assent to this. After they
had passed Inchkeith, Gordon's boat was seen far in advance and close
inshore on the Midlothian side of the river. On the right, near North
Berwick, Gordon steered his craft inside of the rocky islet known as
the Lamb, nearly opposite to where the picturesque village of Dirleton
now stands. Here the Leith man shipped his oars, and gazing ahead
fancied that he saw two gigantic figures moving to and fro, busily
engaged in digging. At this point the boatman refused to approach any
farther, rowed his passenger back, and landed him at Prestonpans,
whence he made his way home.

Gordon returned as usual, but on the very same day he gave a week's
notice of his intention to leave his situation. At the end of that time
it was rumoured that he had bought up nearly the entire buildings on
one side of the Broad Wynd, and it was this gigantic investment which
gave rise to the story that he must have sold himself to the Devil.
He was now known and addressed as 'Laird' Gordon, visited his tenants
in turn, and when they announced their intention of giving up their
houses "because they disliked becoming tenants of the Deil," he passed
no comment upon their resolution. But there was not much house-room
in Leith in those days, and one by one the objectors returned; but
they never succeeded in getting an interview with Gordon, for when
they called upon him he was either deeply engaged or had just left the
house. As term-time drew nigh frantic endeavours were made to see him,
but he could never be found alone: a tall dark man of authoritative
mien always accompanied him. This personage was silent unless directly
appealed to, but he seemed to control the Warlock Laird's every
movement. On one occasion Gordon summoned all the tenants together,
and, entering alone the room where they were met, he desired such of
them as were in earnest in their applications to stand on their heads
and strike their feet against the wall. This they very naturally
refused to do, whereupon his sombre-looking companion appeared, and
at once every man found himself standing on his head and kicking his
heels in the air. Those who wished to retain their houses were allowed
to do so, but were subjected to many annoyances by Gordon and his
familiar, who paid them visits at all manner of unreasonable hours. On
one occasion they were brought together into one house and compelled
to dance until they fell down through sheer exhaustion. Those who had
occupied new dwellings were so persecuted and tormented that they
were glad to return to the Broad Wynd in order to free themselves
of annoyance. But one day these cantrips ceased, and for many weeks
nothing was seen of the Warlock Laird. When the day came round to
call upon him and disburse rents, the tenants went in a body to the
Yard-heads. A strange-looking man opened the door of Gordon's house at
their summons and they were ushered into an apartment where they did
not remain long before they heard piercing shrieks of agony mingled
with prayers for mercy proceeding from the room directly overhead. They
were about to leave the house, when the door of the room they were in
was dashed open and Gordon rushed into their midst, closely pursued by
his fiendish companion. He earnestly besought their protection, but
they were so paralysed with fear as to be incapable of assisting him
in any way. The dark and sinister-looking being who had companioned
him so long threw himself on the trembling wretch and dragged him
forcibly into the passage outside. A great slamming of doors and
clanking of chains followed: then a terrible explosion shook the house
from cellar to garret. Terrified beyond expression, Gordon's tenants
made what haste they could to escape from so dangerous a locality, and
on reaching the doorway they discovered that the tower connected with
the house had been hurled to earth and that a strong sulphurous odour
hung about its ruins. Some of them even asserted that as they crossed
the threshold the ground in front of the house opened and they saw
Gordon descending through it, accompanied by his mysterious companion.
Nevermore was Anthony Gordon seen in the streets of the port, and his
house remained a shunned and dreaded spot until time laid the cottage
in ruins beside the prostrate tower.

Some twenty years afterward a beggar unacquainted with the local
traditions was taking shelter among the ruins of the Warlock's house
when he stumbled upon a small iron-bound chest, in which were the
titles of the properties in Broad Wynd. With these he immediately
absconded, and returning some six months afterward posed as the
Warlock's heir and assumed possession of the property; but a curse
seemed to rest upon it. The tale says that the dreadful visions by
which he was haunted drove him to seek refuge in intoxication, although
the converse is more probably true! He drank heavily, and was found
dead one morning with his throat cut. So, in this very commonplace
manner, the legend ends. The date of it cannot be ascertained, but
it is probable that it may be placed somewhere about the end of the
seventeenth or the beginning of the eighteenth century.

The manner in which the legend ends bears a strong resemblance to at
least one version of the Faust story--that given by Wierus or Wier, the
great demonologist, who in his _De præstigiis dæmonum_ (Basel, 1563)
tells how Faust was found with his neck wrung after the house had been
shaken by a terrific din. Some students who occupied a chamber near
by said that between twelve and one o'clock at midnight there blew a
mighty storm of wind against the house as though it would have shaken
the foundations out of their place. The students, alarmed, leapt from
their beds, and then they became aware of a hissing in the hall as of
thousands of snakes and adders. With that the hall door flew open and
Dr Faustus rushed out, crying, "Murder, murder!" but after a little
they heard him no more. Next day they found his mangled remains in the
hall where the Devil had destroyed him.

There can be very little doubt that the Leith legend was based, in part
at least, upon the German one. The story of Faust was commonly known in
Britain by the end of the sixteenth century, and so had plenty of time
to take on local colour and evolve under local superstition into the
shape in which it is here given.


One process in use among folklorists is of interest to students of
myth because of its application to mythic material. This process I
will call the 'complementary' process for want of a better name. It
consists in building up or restoring a ritual act or tale from a
number of fragmentary examples, perhaps scattered all over the world.
For example, if we find a certain custom in England and an analogous
custom in India plus some ritual circumstance which the English custom
does not possess, we are justified in believing that the English
custom once included it. Or if we find a certain tale in Africa, we
may discover another closely resembling it in Ireland and possessing
features which explain some break in the African story. The comparative
and complementary methods are necessary to both folklorists and
mythologists, because an isolated instance is of little use in the
study of either science. These must be restored to association with all
the known examples of their kind, and the earliest and most complete
form may thus be discovered.

Sir George Gomme in his _Folklore as an Historical Science_ (p. 171)
says that a "restored and complete example is in a position to be
compared either with similar survivals in other countries on the same
level of culture, or within the same ethnological or political sphere
of influence, or with living customs, rites, or beliefs of peoples
of a more backward state of culture or in a savage state of culture.
Comparison of this kind is of value. Comparison of a less technical or
comprehensive kind may be of value in the hands of a great master; but
it is often not only valueless but mischievous in the hands of less
experienced writers, who think that comparison is justified wherever
similarity is discovered."

One of the common grounds of folklore and myth is that where religious
elements obviously enter into folk-belief and custom. These may furnish
us with new knowledge of a god or a cult. For example, many fragments
of the old religion of Central America still linger in the folklore of
the Indians of Guatemala; the witch-lore of Italy is full of obscure
allusions to the classical deities of Rome; and the folklore of the
Arabs of Egypt here and there touches hands with the ancient religion
of that country. In Scotland such examples are frequent. That of the
thunder-god Brounger has already been alluded to. It is on record that
the fishermen of Newhaven, which Brounger haunted, have an almost
equal dislike to hearing the name of a certain Johnny Boag or Boggie,
and that they have been known to stay from sea because this name had
been mentioned in their hearing while on the way to the boats. The
Slavonic word for god is _bôg_--a word which has run through a number
of modifications, but has finished with us Britons as 'bogy,' or
'bogle,' and 'bugbear' (compare Welsh _brog_, a goblin). At the fishing
on the Cromarty Firth a salmon must never be spoken of. If it were, the
whole crew would start, grasp the nearest iron thowel, and fervently
exclaim, "Cauld iron, cauld iron!" in order to avert the omen. Thus the
name was taboo, and it looks as if it were of the class of 'names of
power' which may not be spoken. Certain 'hidden' names of the Egyptian
deities also must not be spoken, or dire consequences would ensue. "If
one of them is uttered on the bank of the river the torrent is set
free."[1] It appears then as if 'Salmon' was the appellation of an
ancient fish-totem whose name was taboo. Iron is of course the terror
of all 'tricksy sprites,' and the theory has been advanced that the
prehistoric bronze-users, in whom some see the fairies of folklore,
detested and feared the metal employed by the conquering iron-users,
seeing in their trenchant blades, against which the bronze leaf-shaped
falchion would shiver into pieces, the evidence of a magic power. "In
the North of Ireland an iron poker laid across the table kept away the
fairies till the child was baptized,"[2] and the efficacy of iron in
warding off fairy attacks is notorious all over the Highlands.

Another name which is taboo in the Highlands is that of the minister. I
am at a loss to assign a reason for this, unless as the 'descendant' of
the pagan priest he was regarded as 'magical.' More understandable is
the terror when such words as cat, pig, dog, and hare were mentioned;
and of this class the salmon name-taboo may be a member. The first
two of the above words should be pronounced 'Theebet' and 'Sandy.' To
allude to any animal at sea is unlucky. From Campbell (_op. cit_., p.
239) we learn that among the Highlanders when in a boat at sea "it
is forbidden to call things by the names by which they were known on
land." Thus a boat-hook should not be called _croman_ in Gaelic, but
_a chliob_; a knife not _sgian_ but _a ghair_ (the sharp one); a fox,
the 'red dog'; and a seal, the 'bald beast.' Even places seen from the
sea undergo a change of appellation when the speaker is afloat. It is
evident that these precautions were originally adopted from a desire
not to incur the displeasure of powerful supernatural beings. Thus
when certain tribes of North American Indians periodically sacrifice
an eagle, the totem of their tribe, they strive to avert the vengeance
of the bird by saying to each other: "A snow-bird has been slain."
The supernatural power must be hoodwinked at all costs. What could be
the character of a supernatural power who must be deceived in this
way? Although Christianity had a firm grip enough on land, was it a
negligible quantity when afloat? It is from such examples as these
that folklore may assist the mythologist who gropes for the principles
of ancient mythic ideas. The student of the mythic system of any race
should apply himself with the utmost earnestness to the study of the
folklore of its modern representatives.


As showing how ancient myth may be embedded in modern folklore, the
discoveries of the late Charles Godfrey Leland have an importance it
would be difficult to over-estimate. In his preface to his _Aradia, the
Gospel of the Witches of Italy_, he says:

"There are in Italy great numbers of _strege_, fortune-tellers or
witches, who divine by cards, perform strange ceremonies in which
spirits are supposed to be invoked, make and sell amulets, and, in
fact, comport themselves generally as their reputed kind are wont to
do, be they Black Voodoos in America or sorceresses anywhere.

"But the Italian _strega_ or sorceress is in certain respects a
different character from these. In most cases she comes of a family in
which her calling or art has been practised for many generations. I
have no doubt that there are instances in which the ancestry remounts
to mediæval, Roman, or it may be Etruscan times. The result has
naturally been the accumulation in such families of much tradition.
But in Northern Italy, as its literature indicates, though there has
been some slight gathering of fairy tales and popular superstitions
by scholars, there has never existed the least interest as regarded
the strange lore of the witches, nor any suspicion that it embraced an
incredible quantity of old Roman minor myths and legends, such as Ovid
has recorded, but of which much escaped him and all other Latin writers.

"This ignorance was greatly aided by the wizards and witches
themselves, in making a profound secret of all their traditions, urged
thereto by fear of the priests. In fact, the latter all unconsciously
actually contributed immensely to the preservation of such lore,
since the charm of the forbidden is very great, and witchcraft, like
the truffle, grows best and has its raciest flavour when most deeply
hidden. However this may be, both priest and wizard are vanishing now
with incredible rapidity.

"However, they die slowly, and even yet there are old people in the
Romagna of the North who know the Etruscan names of the Twelve Gods,
and invocations to Bacchus, Jupiter, and Venus, Mercury, and the Lares
or ancestral spirits, and in the cities are women who prepare strange
amulets, over which they mutter spells, all known in the old Roman
time, and who can astonish even the learned by their legends of Latin
gods, mingled with lore which may be found in Cato or Theocritus. With
one of these I became intimately acquainted in 1886, and have ever
since employed her specially to collect among her sisters of the hidden
spell in many places all the traditions of the olden time known to
them. It is true that I have drawn from other sources, but this woman
by long practice has perfectly learned what few understand, or just
what I want, and how to extract it from those of her kind.

"For brief explanation I may say that witchcraft is known to its
votaries as _la vecchia religione_, or the old religion, of which
Diana is the Goddess, her daughter _Aradia_ (or Herodias) the female
Messiah, and that this little work sets forth how the latter was born,
came down to earth, established witches and witchcraft, and then
returned to Heaven. With it are given the ceremonies and invocations or
incantations to be addressed to Diana and Aradia, the exorcism of Cain,
and the spells of the holy-stone, rue, and verbena, constituting, as
the text declares, the regular church-service, so to speak, which is to
be chanted or pronounced at the witch-meetings. There are also included
the very curious incantations or benedictions of the honey, meal, and
salt, or cakes of the witch-supper, which is curiously classical, and
evidently a relic of the Roman Mysteries."

[1] _Magical Papyrus_ (Harris) 7, I _et seq._

[2] Campbell's _Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands_, p. 152.



Ritual is worship organized, the detail and circumstance of adoration.
The study of ritual is one of the branches of the science of
comparative religion, but much light is often cast upon myth by its
consideration, and here we have to discuss it only in its relationship
to myth.

This almost resolves itself into an argument upon the vexed question
whether myth is a product of ritual or not. As this question has been
already fully discussed (pp. 62-64), there is no necessity to renew it
here; but it possesses a pendent question. When the original reason
for a certain ritual became forgotten and lost, a myth might arise
to account for it. Such a myth would, of course, be 'secondary' in
its nature, and is, properly speaking, more of the nature of folklore
than myth. Ritual thus arises from an original myth and gives birth to
secondary myth or folklore.

It is not essential that ritual should originate in a definite
original myth--a concrete story having _dramatis personæ_, plot, and
counterplot. The savage may conceive a deity without endowing it with
any characteristics. "The sun-being lives up there," says the savage,
or "I fear the wind. I will placate him." The only myth created is:
"The supernatural wind-being lives on the earth." All the same this
statement is myth; it is primitive theobiography.

Marett thinks that primitive religion was something "to be danced
out." The religious dance of the savage is both myth and ritual; it
combines myth, tale, and worship. Many myths were and are acted in
dance, especially among the aborigines of Australia and America.
The Eleusinian mysteries of Greece were almost certainly relics of
mythic dances such as Red Indians and Black-fellows still participate
in. We have then a meeting-place for myth and ritual in the tribal
dance, which at the same time as it represents the adventures of the
gods chants their praises in psalm and hymn (that is, in ritual) and
performs the mystic movements that are the most ancient ritual. Dance
itself may be purely ritualistic rather than explanatory. When David
"danced before the Lord" he did not 'dance out' a myth. He danced
ritualistically, with ritual movements--probably traditional and
unchangeable--to suit the cadence of his chant or psalm. It is such
ritual movements that mechanics unconsciously employ when at work. The
blacksmith when he strikes the anvil with his hammer in the intervals
of shaping the shoe he holds between the tongs does not do so because
he _requires_ to. The blows are needless and he gives them because
all other craftsmen give them; but they were not always unmeaning.
Once, perchance, they filled in the lapses of a song (like that of Joe
Gargery in _Great Expectations_), or perhaps he thought they rounded
off the music his hammer made on the hot iron he shaped on his stithy.
Now they are merely part of the _ritual_ of his craft and he is
'forced' by the immemorial usage of his 'mystery' to employ them, just
as we all employ certain stereotyped expressions, for custom's sake.

Lack of originality is the disease of ritual. Dullness, pomposity, or
mock piety are the pillars of its falling house. Why does Stiggins
state that a certain prayer-meeting will take place "D.V."? Because
other Stigginses do so, following a habit started in the dim past by
some prudent man. Why do some golfers cut such fantastic capers while
'addressing'? Because other conceited golfers do the same, having
originally seen it done with effect. It is part of the ritual of later
people to do these things, nor can they tear themselves away from them
nor appreciate their absurdity--and man is, above all, an imitative and
most unoriginal animal!

Ritual, then, enters as much into life as into religion, and secondary
myths may arise concerning craft rituals, just as they do about
religious ones.

Traces of early ritual in later folk-belief are by no means rare. Such
traces were to be found in the old Scottish festival of Bealltainn
which was held on May Day. Of course the pious medieval folk who
secured the continuity of the rite did not know that they were
celebrating a pagan festival, for the Church, following its age-long
policy of propitiating the heathen, tactfully confounded it with the
festival of the Rood, the True Cross discovered by the Empress Helena.
At Edinburgh and Peebles Bealltainn was held in medieval times on the
3rd of May, the feast day of the Rood, instead of on the first of the
month, as at Perth and elsewhere, and the old custom or ritual would
unquestionably be superimposed upon the Christian practice of the day.
It is notable that two of the Rood churches in Scotland--Holyrood Abbey
and Peebles--were reared where the Celtic rite of Bealltainn had been
unusually popular--raised, as it were, to confound and supersede the
festival. The rite of Bealltainn survived until a generation or two
ago, and circumstantial accounts have been bequeathed to us concerning
it. Says the parish minister of Callander, writing upon the festival:
"In the Parish of Callander, upon the first day of May, all the boys
in the town or hamlet meet on the moors. They cut a table on the
green sod, of a round shape, to hold the whole company. They kindle
the fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk in the consistence of a
custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is baked at the fire upon
a stone. After the custard is eaten up, they divide the cake into as
many portions, and as similar as possible, as there are persons in the
company. They blacken one of these portions with charcoal until it is
perfectly black. They put all the bits of cake into a bonnet. Every
one blindfolded draws a portion--he who holds the bonnet is entitled
to the last. Who draws the black bit is the devoted person to be
sacrificed to Baal, whose favour they mean to implore in rendering the
year productive of substance for man and beast. There is little doubt
of these human sacrifices being once offered in the country, but the
youth who has got the black bit must leap through the flame of the fire
three times."

In the preceding generations men, not boys, were the celebrants. Thus
ritual droops into the hands of the very young, the despised, or the
very old. The strong desert it, but the weak pitifully conserve it. "In
the Parish of Logierait," says Napier, "Beltane is celebrated by the
shepherds and cowherds in the following manner. They assemble in the
fields and dress a dinner of milk and eggs. This dish they eat with
a sort of cake baked for the occasion, having small lumps or nipples
raised all over its surface. These knobs are not eaten, but broken off,
and given as offerings to the different supposed powers or influences
that protect or destroy their flocks, to the one as a thank-offering,
to the other as a peace-offering."

Pennant, in his _Tour through Scotland_, thus described the Bealltainn
observances as they were practised at the end of last century. "The
herds of every village hold their Beltane (a rural sacrifice). They
cut a square trench in the ground, leaving the turf in the middle.
On that they make a fire of wood, on which they dress a large caudle
of eggs, oatmeal, butter, and milk, and bring besides these plenty
of beer and whiskey. Each of the company must contribute something
towards the feast. The rites begin by pouring a little of the caudle
upon the ground, by way of a libation. Every one then takes a cake
of oatmeal, on which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to
some particular being who is supposed to preserve their herds, or to
some animal the destroyer of them. Each person then turns his face
to the fire, breaks off a knob, and, flinging it over his shoulder,
says--'This I give to thee,' naming the being whom he thanks,
'preserver of my sheep,' etc.; or to the destroyer, 'This I give to
thee (O fox or eagle), spare my lambs,' etc. When this ceremony is over
they all dine on the caudle."

We thus see that Bealltainn was the survival of the sacrifice of a
human being to certain animistic spirits, the preservers of the flocks
and herds of the celebrants. Later, cattle must have taken the place of
the human victim. Jamieson remarks, quoting O'Brien: "_Ignis Bei Dei
Aseatica ea lineheil_, or May-day, so called from large fires which
the Druids were used to light on the summits of the highest hills,
into which they drove four-footed beasts, using certain ceremonies to
expiate for the sins of the people. The Pagan ceremony of lighting
these fires in honour of the Asiatic god Belus gave its name to the
entire month of May, which to this day is called _Me-na-bealtine_,
in the Irish, _Dor Keating_." He says again, speaking of these fires
of Baal, that the cattle were driven through them and not sacrificed,
the chief design being to avert contagious disorders from them for the
year. And quoting from an ancient glossary, O'Brien says: "The Druids
lighted two solemn fires every year, and drove all four-footed beasts
through them, in order to preserve them from contagious distempers
during the current year."

Bealltainn was perhaps an adaptation of one of the names of Bilé, a
Celtic god of death and the Underworld, one of the Danann or gods
imported from Gaul. Thus we may find in the festival the celebration
of a propitiatory festival to the god of death and all his devastating
crew, the tempest, the fox, the eagle--the pantheon of destroyers, whom
it was hoped to placate and soften into protective agencies.

The collection of dew is a notable circumstance in the May Day
festival. It is alluded to by Ferguson, who sings in the ancient metre
which Scotland took from France:

    On May day in a fairy ring
    We've seen them round St Anthon's spring
      Frae grass the caller dew to wring
          To wet their een
      And water clear as crystal spring
          To synd them clean.

First-of-May dew preserved the skin from wrinkles and freckles, and
gave a glow of youth. Dew collected on the morning of the first day
of May is supposed to confer witchcraft on the gatherer, and protect
against an evil eye. To be seen in a field at daybreak that morning
rendered the person seen an object of fear--perhaps as a witch or


The manner in which a complicated secondary myth may result from ritual
is well exemplified by that which sprang from the rites of Dionysus
celebrated at Thebes. A branch or some other symbol of vegetation was
carried through the cultivated fields in the neighbourhood of the city
by a man disguised as a woman. A human image was then attached to the
top of a tree-trunk, which was raised from the ground by ropes and
held upright. The tree-spirit is then supposed to animate the trunk.
Then, as happened in Mexico at the feast of Uitzilopochtli, the image
attached to the tree was stoned and its fragments were scrambled and
fought for. The woman who secured the head hastened to nail it to the
temple or principal house of the community.

The late explanation of these doings, the origin of which became
entirely lost, was that, as whatever was done must redound to the
honour of Dionysus, the being represented on the top of the tree-trunk
was inimical to him. The women, perhaps, supposed themselves to be
enacting the part of bacchantes crazed with wine. As Roscher and Jevons
have shown, this late story is the framework of the myth of Pentheus
as given in the _Bacchæ_ of Euripides, Pentheus, a monarch, refuses to
permit the introduction of the worship of Dionysus, who bereaves him
of his senses and, having dressed him in woman's garments, leads him
through his own town as a laughing-stock. The women of Thebes, led by
Agave, the mother of Pentheus, accept Dionysus and become mænads or
bacchantes. To enable Pentheus to see their worship, Dionysus bends
down a pine-tree, places him on the top and then lets it go. He is then
attacked by Agave and the other bacchantes, who tear him limb from limb
and set his head on the front of his own palace.

Whatever the significance of this rite--and it would seem to have its
origin in priapic and bacchic worship--we cannot fail to observe how
far too explanatory and how little ingenious the foregoing tale appears
when adapted to it. As Falstaff says of his own excuse: "It will not
fadge," It is lame and awkward. Pentheus could have beheld the rites of
the bacchantes without the pine-tree being lowered for his convenience;
and had he been bereft of his senses, he would probably have joined in
the bacchic rout instead of tamely witnessing it. The circumstances
point to the real myth behind the ritual being connected with the
secret priapic and seasonal rites of a feminine cult--for women have
their secret cults as well as men, as has been proved of late by the
wonderful and valuable discoveries of Mrs D. Aumary Talbot among the
Congo peoples--discoveries which seem destined to throw much light upon
a most interesting department of comparative religion.

The student must then be upon his guard against secondary
interpretations of ritual, which in most cases can only have reference
to an early type of myth.



Among the most important sources of our knowledge of myth are ancient
books, which, purporting only to set down the annals of a people,
contain numerous important passages concerning the mythology of
the race whose deeds they celebrate, the adventures of divine or
semi-divine beings, whose godhead we can discern shining beneath the
armour of the mortal hero. Such books are the _Iliad_ of Homer, the
Japanese _Nihongi_, the _Popol Vuh_ of the Kiches of Central America,
the _Ramayana_ of the Hindus, and the _Wallum-Olum_ of the Lenapé
Indians. Among the pages of these and of similar works where myth
shades into history, we will now search for the pure mythic gold,
refining it from the dross which surrounds it, and making an attempt
to restore it to its pristine condition. In perusing these ancient
writings we shall find that although many of the myths which they
conserve have undoubtedly changed their original shape, others have as
certainly retained it, as well as their ancient simplicity of matter
and spirit.


The more we learn of Egyptian myth the more we realize how little we
knew concerning it until recently, and how very much more remains to
be discovered. We now know a good deal about the various Egyptian
deities and their attributes, from the careful study of Greek and Latin
writers, by induction, and from the Pyramid and other hieroglyphic
texts; but it is strange how comparatively few Egyptian myths have
come down to us. Of the many papyri taken from temple and sarcophagus
only a small proportion deals with what may be called literature,
and of this only a small part treats of myth. Perhaps the most
outstanding contribution to Egyptian myth is that of Plutarch, who
in his _Osiride et Iside_ tells us practically all we know of Osiris
and Isis. Plutarch's information was second-hand at the best, and
his version of the myth contains many grievous errors; but it is our
one and only guide for the main body of the story, and we must be
thankful for it. One of the great repositories of Egyptian ritual,
the _Book of the Dead_[1] is of great indirect value to mythology.
It treats of the manner in which the soul of the deceased Egyptian
should comport itself in the Otherworld, and also relates the voyage
of Ra-Osiris through the realms of night, mentioning numerous deities
and spirits who accompany him in his progress. Of this book there were
three recensions or versions, the Heliopolitan, the Theban, and the
Saïte. The first-mentioned was edited by the priests of the college of
On, or Heliopolis, and was based on manuscripts which were probably
ancient even in that far-away time. The pyramids of Unas, Teta, and
Pepi contain the original texts of this recension. Chapters were added
from time to time between the VIth and XIth Dynasties. The favourite
version of the _Book of the Dead_ from the XVIIIth to the XXIInd
Dynasty was the Theban recension, and the Saïte must be still later, by
its arrangement. As has been said, the _Book of the Deadhas_ greatly
assisted students of Egyptian myth. Not only does it describe many of
the gods and supernatural beings who inhabit the Underworld, but it
paints vivid pictures of the scenery of that gloomy region. It was
necessary that the dead Egyptian should know the name of every door,
door-keeper, watcher, and questioner in the abode of the dead, and
those names greatly assist in discovering the exact character of the
multitude of beings who inhabited the regions ruled over by Osiris.

Several papyri provide us with mythological items, notably the
Westcar Papyrus, written about 1800 B.C., now in the Berlin Museum.
The beginning and the end are wanting, yet sufficient remains to
show the trend of the whole. Among the several tales it contains is
the "Prophecy of Dedi," which recounts the birth of the sons of Ra.
In the history of Setne and his son Se-Osiris, too, we get several
mythological glimpses, especially valuable being the vision of Amenti,
the abode of the dead, vouchsafed to the child Se-Osiris. From a secret
place in the mountains of Memphis he led his father to seven great
halls (filled with people of all conditions), symbolic of Amenti.
These various halls or circles remind us of the abode of the damned in
Dante's 'Malebolge.' In the sixth hall the gods of Amenti held council,
and in the seventh sat the god Osiris, with Thoth and Anubis. A
judgment scene is described, corresponding to that in the _Book of the
Dead_; and parallels such as these provide that 'test of recurrence'
insisted upon by Tylor, and the first tenet in the creed of all good
mythologists--not, of course, that this recurrence suitably illustrates
Tylor's law--_i.e._, that if mythological phenomena on which a certain
theory is based 'recur' in a far distant place the correctness of that
theory is proved. Here similar facts only 'recur' concerning the same
subject in the accounts of different contemporary writers; but these
accounts are therefore almost certain to mirror the current belief on
that subject, unless, of course, internal evidence reveals that one
writer has slavishly copied from the other.


The "Story of the Two Brothers" contained in the D'Orbiney Papyrus,
bought in Italy and acquired by the British Museum in 1857, provides
us with a story of great significance to the students of myth and
comparative religion. It will be found in the volume of this series
which deals with Egyptian mythology, and it is only necessary to state
in this place that there were two brothers, Anapou and Bitou, that
Anapou's wife sought Bitou's life, and that Bitou had to flee. After
meeting the nine gods and receiving the 'Daughter of the gods' for his
wife, it was intimated to him by the Seven Hathors that he should die
by the sword. He confided to his wife that he had placed his heart, or
life,[2] on the summit of an acacia-tree, and that whoever discovered
it there would have to meet him in combat. It came to the ears of
Pharaoh that Bitou had a beautiful wife, and he sent armed men to kill
him, but Bitou slew them all. Pharaoh then enticed the girl away.
She told him her husband's secret, and he cut down the acacia-tree,
whereupon Bitou expired. His brother, opening the tree, discovered
therein a berry, which he placed in cold water, and Bitou was restored
to life. He then took the shape of a sacred Apis bull, which was
led before Pharaoh. The animal entered the harem and addressed his
former wife, telling her who he was. She put pressure upon the King to
slaughter it, and when this was done, two big drops of blood fell from
the animal's neck and became two great trees, one at either side of
Pharaoh's portal. Sacrifices were offered to these, and Pharaoh with
his wife, or rather Bitou's wife, was carried in his chair of state to
sit under the wonderful trees. But the tree under which Bitou's wife
was seated whispered its secret to her, and at her desire the trees
were cut down. As this was being done a chip flew into her mouth. In
due time she had a son, who was none other than Bitou himself; he
succeeded the Pharaoh and put his faithless wife to death.

This tale is a blend of several well-known mythologic and folklore
elements, the chief of which it may be observed are the slaughter of
the bull and the felling of the trees. These incidents show that part
of the story at least was originally made to explain the origin of tree
and animal worship. At the time it was reduced to writing this tale was
probably about four thousand years old, so that it had had every chance
to attract to itself other floating incidents, such as the way in which
the wickedness of the faithless wife was brought to naught.


An important place in the mythic lore of the Orient falls to the great
Chaldean poem known as the Gilgamesh epic, a copy of which, inscribed
on fragmentary clay tablets, is still extant in the British Museum.
This copy was made at the instance of Assurbanipal (Sardanapalus), King
of Assyria, in the seventh century before our era, and was housed in
that monarch's famous library at Nineveh. Ere the century in which
they were deposited there closed the tablets were buried beneath the
ruins of the city, to be recovered only in modern times through the
researches of Sir A. H. Layard and others. The epic, written by the
Ninevite scribes on twelve tablets, tells the adventures of a mythical
or semi-mythical hero called Gilgamesh, and is of the nature of a solar
cycle, comprising a number of more or less distinct and complete myths
woven into a connected narrative. Some of its episodes are known to be
of high antiquity, dating at the latest from some two thousand years
before the time of Assurbanipal.

It is possible that there is an historical basis for the character of
Gilgamesh, whose name is thought to be of Elamite or Kassite origin.
It happens by no means infrequently that a real national hero becomes
the nucleus of various legends of gods and supernatural beings, and it
is therefore not improbable that Gilgamesh was at one time that prince
of Erech which the epic represents him to be. Mythologically, he is
the type of the sun-god (as a brief scrutiny of the poem will show),
his adventures typifying the course of the solar luminary through the
heavens and into the Underworld. Eabani, the mythical type of primitive
man, with whom Gilgamesh is associated as friend and fellow-adventurer,
also presents solar characteristics. It is not, however, sun legends
alone which have found their way into the epic. The myth of Eabani and
Ukhut in the Ist tablet approximates to the story of Adam and Eve;
there is mention of the seasonal myth of Tammuz and Ishtar in the VIth
tablet; most important of all, in the XIth tablet appears the famous
Babylonian story of the deluge, forming in itself a complete and
separate narrative, connected with the rest of the epic only by the
most mechanical of literary devices.

The opening of the poem is rather obscure. A fragment exists which
seems to be its earliest lines, a sort of prologue indicating the
benefits accruing to those who read the epic. Another fragment thought
to belong to this work is about a grievous siege of the city of Erech;
but as no mention of Gilgamesh appears, it is doubtful whether the
fragment really forms a part of the poem. When Gilgamesh is first
introduced in the mutilated text it is as the semi-divine king of
Erech, a tyrannous monarch whose people groan beneath the weight
of his oppression. There is nothing to indicate how he reached the
throne, whether he was a native prince or a conqueror. Like the sun he
typifies, his birth is shrouded in mystery. His mother, Rimat-belit,
is a priestess of the cult of Shamash; it is not from her that he has
received his strain of divinity. His father, strangely enough, is not
once mentioned, and we are left to conjecture that he was the offspring
of a god, probably of the sun-god himself, whose worshipper and
_protégé_ he is.

The people of Erech at length rebel against his cruel treatment,
calling on the gods to create a hero to subdue him. The divine beings
hearkened, and the goddess Aruru made Eabani, the wild man, from
a piece of clay. Eabani haunts the mountains and desolate places,
herding with the gazelles as one of them, and it is in this condition
that Tsaidu, the hunter, finds him, whether by accident or design
is not clear. Tsaidu, after trying in vain to capture him, returns
with news of him to Gilgamesh, who, evidently guessing that the wild
man was intended by the gods for his downfall, dispatches Tsaidu
once more in search of him. This time the huntsman is accompanied by
the temple-woman Ukhut, whose snares Gilgamesh trusts will be more
effective than those of Tsaidu. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, the
wild man falls before the wiles of a woman, and is led in triumph to
Erech, with whose monarch he establishes a close friendship, thus in a
measure thwarting the designs of the gods.

In the IInd tablet we find Eabani somewhat dissatisfied with his
position at Erech, and lamenting his lost freedom; but the god Shamash
appears to him in a dream and induces him to remain. The two heroes,
Gilgamesh and Eabani, project an expedition against Khumbaba, the
monster who guards the forest of cedars, and in the IIIrd tablet they
obtain the patronage of Shamash for their undertaking, through the good
offices of Rimat-belit.

The fearsome aspect of Khumbaba (identified by some writers with an
Elamite dynasty which flourished more than two thousand years before
our era) is portrayed in the IVth tablet, while the Vth relates the
episode of the heroes' approach to the forest of cedars. The portion
of the text dealing with the combat is no longer extant, but we gather
that the monster is overcome and slain. The encounter with Khumbaba
appears to be symbolical of the conflict between light and darkness.

The VIth tablet embodies a myth of different character, representing,
perhaps, the wooing of the sun-god, the god of the spring-time, by
Ishtar, the patron deity of fertility and of the renewal of vegetation
on the earth. Returning from his expedition to the forest of cedars,
Gilgamesh lays aside his armour and stained garments and robes himself
with becoming state. The goddess Ishtar, beholding him, loves him,
and desires him for her bridegroom. "Come, Gilgamesh," she says, "and
be thou my bridegroom! I am thy vine, thou art its bond; be thou my
husband, and I will be thy wife," and so on, with many fair promises
and inducements. But Gilgamesh will have none of her proffered favours.
In a speech replete with mythic allusions he taunts her with her
treatment of former lovers--of Tammuz the bridegroom of her youth, of
Alala the eagle, of a "lion perfect in might" and a "horse glorious in
battle," of the shepherd Tabulu and the gardener Isullanu. To all these
has she meted out cruel tortures; "and yet," says Gilgamesh, "thou
lovest me that thou mayest make me as they are." Ishtar in mingled
rage and shame appeals to her father Anu to send a great bull against
the hero, and Anu at length consents to do so. However, Gilgamesh and
Eabani succeed in slaying the divine animal, while Eabani still further
incenses the goddess by his contemptuous treatment of her. After the
overthrow of the celestial bull the heroes return to Erech. Up to this
point their victorious career has not received a single check; but just
as the sun when he reaches the zenith begins to decline in strength, so
the might of the two heroes begins to wane after the middle of the epic.

In the VIIth tablet the death of Eabani is foretold to him in a vision.
The temple maiden Ukhut (cursed by him in his first bitterness at
the loss of freedom, and now dead) appears to him, and in a passage
beginning, "Come, descend with me to the house of darkness, the
abode of Irkalla," describes the gloomy and wretched aspect of the
Netherworld. Soon afterward Eabani becomes ill, no doubt through the
malignance of the goddess Ishtar. This tablet and the following, which
recounts the death of Eabani, are in a very mutilated condition.

The IXth tablet opens with the lament of Gilgamesh for his deceased
friend. "Must I die like Eabani?" asks the hero, and a great dread
comes upon him, so that he resolves to go to the abode of his
ancestor, Ut-Napishtim, the Babylonian Noah, who has been admitted
into the pantheon, and, he trusts, will unveil for him the secret of
immortality. It must be remembered that on this journey thitherward
Gilgamesh, in his mythical character of sun-god, is travelling downward
from the zenith. In due course he reaches the Mountain of the Sunset,
lying on the western horizon, and when he has passed its portals,
guarded by scorpion-men, he passes through a region of darkness which
takes him twenty-four hours to traverse.

The Xth tablet brings him to the seashore, and here he meets with
Sabitu, goddess of the sea, who directs him to Ut-Napishtim's ferryman,
Arad-Ea. After some persuasion the ferryman consents to row him across
the waters of death to the abode of his ancestor. Arrived at the
farther shore, the hero (who has meanwhile contracted a sore disease)
remains sitting in the boat till Ut-Napishtim comes down to the strand.
The survivor of the flood is greatly surprised to see that a mortal man
has crossed the dark sea in safety, and he demands to know his errand.
Gilgamesh makes known the object of his quest (to learn the secret of
perpetual life), whereupon the listener on the shore looks grave, and
points out to him that death is the common lot of all men.

To explain how he himself obtained immortality and deification,
Ut-Napishtim relates the Babylonian version of the ubiquitous
flood-story, which occupies the first portion of the XIth tablet. The
flood was decreed, according to this version, by the gods who dwelt in
the ancient city of Shurip-pak. "Their hearts prompted the great gods
to send a deluge," says Ut-Napishtim naively, and no other cause is
assigned for the disaster. Ut-Napishtim was evidently a favourite with
Ea, lord of the deep; he instructed him in a vision how to build a ship
in which he and his household might escape. To allay the suspicions of
the populace he had to give as the reason for his preparations that
he was hated by Bel and was therefore disposed to quit the realms of
that deity and repair to the domains of Ea. The building, launching,
and loading of the ship occupied seven days, and at eventide on the
seventh Ut-Napishtim with his family and household entered the ship,
and the torrential rains then commenced. For a season all was storm
and chaos, so that even the gods were afraid. On the seventh day the
tempest ceased, and finally the ship came to rest on Mount Nitsir. To
discover whether the waters were abating this Babylonian Noah sent out
a dove, then a swallow, but both returned to the ship; after a space
he sent out a raven, and the raven drew near, "wading and croaking,"
but did not come back. Then Ut-Napishtim and all his household came
out and offered a libation and burnt incense on the mountain-peak. The
gods descended and hovered round him, and the lady of the gods swore by
her necklace of lapis lazuli (an amulet) that she would not forget the
days of the deluge. Bel, who seems to have been the prime mover in the
destruction of mankind, was wroth when he discovered the survivors, but
at length, on the intervention of the other gods, he decided to raise
Ut-Napishtim and his wife to the status of divinities and admit them to
the council of the gods. After this, the pair were taken away and made
to dwell at 'the mouth of the rivers.'

His recital ended, Ut-Napishtim undertook to cure Gilgamesh of his
disease, and for that purpose directed him to a magic spring of
healing virtue. The hero, once more strong and healthy, returned
to his ancestor's dwelling and again demanded the secret of life.
Ut-Napishtim, though he had previously pointed out the hopelessness of
the quest, now told Gilgamesh how he might obtain the plant of life,
and with Arad-Ea for his pilot the hero set out. He was successful
in finding the magic plant, but ere he could make use of it a
serpent-monster stole it from him, and with his quest still unfulfilled
he was obliged to return to Erech.

The mythological significance of this tablet is, of course, that the
sun-god can never attain immortality, he must 'die' inevitably at
eventide, cross the waters of death, and sojourn until morning in the
Underworld. Just as Gilgamesh is healed and restored to Erech, so is
the sun restored to the world at dawn, his quest still unsatisfied, for
he must 'perish' again when night comes round.

The XIIth and last tablet concerns the return of Eabani's ghost
(_utukka_) from the Underworld. Gilgamesh still mourns for his friend,
and begs the gods to restore him to life. At length Ea hearkens and
intercedes with Nergal, god of the Netherworld, who consents to release
the spirit for a little while. The passage containing Gilgamesh's
interview with the ghost is of interest as setting forth the Babylonian
doctrine of care for the dead. Eabani describes the conditions of life
in the Underworld, showing that the dead who are properly buried and
receive offerings are comparatively comfortable, while those who are
uncared for dwell in squalor and wretchedness.

We must not overlook the important astrological aspect of the Gilgamesh
epic. It is generally thought that the division of the epic into
twelve tablets implies a connexion with the zodiac, though it is
also suggested that the association is an artificial one conceived
by the Ninevite scribes who copied the poem. However this may be,
it is obvious that the epic abounds in astrological allusions. Thus
the sign Virgo would be represented by the wooing of Ishtar in the
VIth tablet; Taurus by the combat with the celestial bull; Scorpio by
the meeting with the scorpion-men at the Mountain of the Sunset, and
also by the traversing of the region of darkness, since the scorpion
typified darkness, and the sign Scorpio was frequently used both as
the seventh and eighth signs of the zodiac. Capricornus, represented
as a fish-tailed goat, may be depicted by the encounter with Sabitu,
goddess of the sea. The deluge story inserted in the XIth tablet comes
under the sign of Aquarius, the water-bearer; while Pisces, the twelfth
sign, typical of the after-life, corresponds with the ghost-scene in
the XIIth tablet. As has been said, Gilgamesh and Eabani were both
of them forms of the sun-god; it is therefore not impossible that
they were the mythological equivalents of the sign Gemini, the twins,
itself connected with two types of the solar deity. The astrological
or zodiacal element in the epic grew in importance with the advance of
astrology in Babylonia.


The generic term _Veda_ ('knowledge') is applied to a collection
of ancient Hindu writings forming the Brahmanical scriptures. The
_Veda_ comprised a group of four distinct collections of sacred
literature--namely, the _Rig-veda_, or book of hymns, the _Sama-veda_,
or book of chants, the _Yajur-veda_, or book of prayers, and the
_Atharva-veda_, or book of the Atharvans--each of these composed
of a _Samhita_ (a collection of sacred sayings forming the veda
proper), to which are appended three other classes of writings,
somewhat less authoritative and divine--the _Brahmanas_ (prose
writings), the _Aranyakas_, dealing with the more esoteric rites,
and the _Upanishads_, of a rationalistic and speculative nature.
The _Rig-veda_, the work of early Aryan settlers in India, is the
oldest and most important of the four, and is believed to be of high
antiquity. It is written in a dialect older than classical Sanskrit.
The _Sama-veda_ and _Yajur-veda_ are largely composed of borrowings
from the _Rig-veda,_ resemblances to which are also apparent in the
_Atharva-veda,_ though the significance of the latter is less religious
and more magical.

With the religious and moral teachings of the Vedas we have here no
concern; but the lore of the ancient gods which still lingers in
them is of great mythological interest, and reveals to some extent
the workings of Indian religious thought in the early Aryan period.
The foundation of the early Hindu religion as it is set forth in the
Vedic literature was, apparently, a simple animistic cult, wherefrom
was gradually evolved a pantheon of deities for the most part
anthropomorphic. The natural world was divided, conveniently enough,
into three spheres, the earth, the air, and the sky, each of which had
its presiding deity with his divine court. Thus arose a constantly
changing triad of supreme deities--changing, at all events, in
name--and in time the partly monotheistic idea of a spiritual essence
or universal soul pervading and animating all things, even the gods

Despite the lofty moral sentiments of the Vedas, and their spiritual
character, we may discern in them traces of barbarism. This is less
evident in the Vedic hymns, or Samhitas, than in the prose Brahmanas:
many of the myths, complete and fragmentary, in which these latter
abound, present a distinctly savage element of irrationality and


The _Ramayana_ treats of the traditions of two great races, the Kosalas
and the Videhas, who dwelt in Northern India between the twelfth and
tenth centuries B.C. It is not in these families that our interest
centres, but in the numerous mythological allusions which enrich
the work. It is, of course, chiefly a hero-tale, but, unlike the
_Nibelungenlied_, for example, it abounds in direct allusions to the
gods and their various attributes; and this it is that makes it so
interesting to the mythologist. Here is a short catalogue of gods from
the fifth book of the _Ramayana_ to illustrate its usefulness as a
mythological guide. The principal attributes of the various deities are
described in a phrase:

    _Brahma_ and the flaming _Agni, Vishnu_ lord of heavenly light,
    _Indra_ and benign _Vivasvat_ ruler of the azure height,

    _Soma_ and the radiant _Bhaga_, and _Kuvera_ lord of gold,
    And _Vidhatri_ great Creator worshipped by the saints of old,

    _Vayu_ breath of living creature, _Yama_ monarch of the dead,
    And _Varuna_ with his fetters which the trembling sinners dread,

    Holy spirit of _Gayatri_, goddess of the morning prayer,
    _Vasus_ and the hooded _Nagas_, golden-winged _Garuda_ fair,

    _Kartikeya_ heavenly leader strong to conquer and to bless,
    _Dharma_ god of human duty and of human  righteousness.

The adventures of the hero Rama in search of his wife Sita and her
eventual discovery, form the principal incidents; and although the
work rings with the clash of battle, it yet possesses infinite wisdom,
related in the words of holy hermits and sage priests.

The _Mahabharata_, or 'great poem of the Bharatas,' most wonderful
of all Eastern epics, tells of a great war fought some thirteen or
fourteen centuries before our era; but the main historical theme
has been largely obscured by the medley of mythical, legendary, and
religious lore which with the passing of centuries has gradually
swelled the epic to more than a hundred thousand couplets. Originating,
possibly, some centuries before the Christian era, the poem is believed
to have been cast in its present form as early as A.D. 200.

Like the _Ramayana_, the _Mahabharata_ is rich in mythic matter--in
myths, legends, and hero-tales more or less completely fused with
the central narrative. Thus it contains one version of the Indian
deluge story, and the Greeks are known to have identified certain
of its characters with the beings of their own mythology. The chief
religious tendency of the poem in its existing shape is toward the
cult of Krishna, who plays a leading part in its development. It has
been suggested that the Krishna stratum was superimposed on an earlier
Buddhist groundwork at a time when the worship of Vishnu (regarded as
being incarnate in Krishna) was in ascendancy.


Much obscurity enfolds the origin of those famous Greek epics, the
_Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, whereof the authorship is traditionally assigned
to Homer. Beyond the fact of their undoubted antiquity nothing is
known of their early history save what may be gleaned from internal
evidence; it is not even certain that they are both from the same pen.
Much of the matter they contain is extremely ancient, and authorities
are generally agreed that they must have been cast in epic form at
latest before the ninth century B.C. The literary beauty and power of
these noble works need not be dwelt upon here, but both the _Iliad_ and
_Odyssey_ are rich in mythological matter, and it is this which calls
for our attention. Gods and men mingle freely in both narratives.

Thus we learn that in Homeric times the gods were definitely
personalized and anthropomorphic; yet not to such an extent as to lose
theriomorphic traits which indicate their origin. They could, for
instance, assume animal shape at will, even Athene herself, who has
but few savage elements in her nature, becoming a bird on occasion.
Apollo, too, and Dionysus, and other deities possess this faculty of
metamorphosis as an inheritance from a more barbarous age.

The Homeric myths, in whatever form they reached the Greek poet (or
poets) known to us as Homer, are singularly free from the grosser
elements which appear in the Hesiodic tales of the gods. Zeus and
Hera, Apollo and Artemis, all the gods whose classic lineaments were
fixed for all time by the pen of Homer, are portrayed by him in noble
and beautiful aspect, with only here and there a reminiscence of some
primitive _chronique scandaleuse_, or a trace of that barbaric element
of irrationality characteristic of myth in its primitive stages.

Zeus was, of course, the supreme deity of the Homeric pantheon, and is
represented as a just and pitiful god, a father to his people and an
avenger of the wrongs of the weak. To him is paid genuine religious
veneration, and submission to his supreme and righteous will is
obviously one of the first duties of man. Round him are grouped the
other gods and goddesses, likewise anthropomorphic and rational beings.
The divine government consists of a simple monarchic state, probably
drawn up on the model of the Greek government of the period. Between
gods and mortals a general spirit of friendliness and confidence
exists, giving to the religion of the Homeric period a pleasant and
spontaneous character not always evident in later times.

It is notable that both the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ were unhesitatingly
ascribed to Homer until the eve of the Christian era, when certain
Greek writers advanced the thesis that the epics were the work of
different authors. Thus was commenced a controversy which has never
been entirely settled. It was urged, again, that the _Iliad_ was
composed of numerous short folk-poems taken from oral tradition and
woven by the poet into a connected narrative; but this theory in
turn has been examined and found lacking, for the literary unity and
coherence of the poem, failing only in a few minor instances, stamps
it as an original work. This, of course, does not imply that myth has
been excluded from the main structure of the poem, for, as has been
shown, it has not. It has likewise been brought forward, as proof of
the separate authorship of the epics, that various deities appear in
a different aspect in the _Odyssey_ from that which they wear in the
_Iliad_, but this in all probability is due rather to the exigencies of
composition than to a different author.

These great epics are of the widest mythological importance,
determining, as they do, as much as the Hesiodic poems, the character
and status of the Greek divinities. And still more surely than Hesiod
does Homer mark the transition from the barbarous or semi-barbarous
mythical period to the full splendour of the classic age. For many
centuries the works of the ancient poet formed the scriptures of the
Greek religion, the very foundation-stone of the mythological "glory
that was Greece."


Japan is rich in mythic literature, perhaps the most valuable of its
mythic books being the _Kojiki_, or "Record of Ancient Matters."
The traditions embraced in it are said to have been recited by a
court lady, Hiyeda No Ra Rae, endowed with an extraordinary memory,
and commanded by the Emperor Temmu, who flourished at the end of
the seventh century A.D., to absorb all the mythical and historical
materials she could and then to dictate them to a scribe. But the
emperor died before he could give final instructions concerning the
scheme, and for twenty-five years Hiyeda carried these mythic annals
in her brain, patiently awaiting the day when Temmu's successor could
furnish her with a scribe. At length the Empress Gemmyo took the
matter up in A.D. 712, and gave her as helper the scribe Yesumaro.
The _Kojiki_ is written in archaic Japanese, and describes the
divine origin of the Japanese race and the story of creation given
elsewhere in this book, before it goes on to treat of the annals
of early sovereigns. The _Nihongi_, or "Chronicles of Japan," is
written in the classical or Chinese style, and goes over much the same
ground as the _Kojiki_, the songs of which it occasionally alters
slightly, supplementing here and omitting there, but it is by no means
so Japanese in character. It is, however, much more valuable as a
repository of myth and history. The mythology of these books is, of
course, Shintoism. The principal gods and heroes and their adventures,
divine and terrestrial, are described, and one of the chief tales
recounts the quarrel of the sun-goddess with her brother Susa-no-o. The
sun-goddess, Ama-terasu, is, of course, an important figure in these
mythic annals, as from her sprang the line of the mikados. The great
cycle of myths collected in these annals is known as the "Period of the
Gods," and may be compared with the divine cycles of the Celts, or the
_Popol Vuh_.


The Teutons of the North do not appear to have possessed any very
ancient written records of their mythology. The Prose, or Younger, Edda
is a miscellaneous group of writings collected by Snorri Sturlason
(1178-1241), who completed the work about 1222. The name 'Edda' does
not appear to have been originally bestowed upon it by its author,
and Scandinavian scholars find some difficulty in explaining it. It
was, it is thought, composed by different hands between the years
1140 and 1160. It is divided into four parts, with a preface, which,
after the fashion of that period, purports to furnish the reader
with a history of human affairs from the beginning. The second part,
"Gylfaginning," or "The Delusion of Gylfi," is a valuable compendium
of early Scandinavian myth. It deals, in the first place, with the
adventures of the mythical king Gylfi and the giantess Gelfion, the
manner of creation of the island of Zealand, and the invasion of
Sweden by the Æsir or divine beings, captained by Odin. The third
part, the "Bragaræthur," or "Sayings of Bragi," contains mythical
poems attributed to Bragi, the god of poetry. The remainder of the
Younger Edda deals with the poetic art, and therefore does not fall to
be described here. Sturlason's collection is fortified by another work
called the _Ynglinga Saga_, which describes how the hero-gods of the
Scandinavian race advanced from the Black Sea northward through Russia
and westward through Esthonia, overrunning the south of Scandinavia
and founding kingdoms there. Of this work three important manuscripts
are still extant, the Wurm Manuscript, the Codex Regius, and, most
important of all, the Upsala Codex, probably written about the year

The Elder Edda, or the Poetic Edda, discovered by Bishop Sveinsson in
1643, was attributed by him to Sæmund Sigfusson, a royal Norwegian who
flourished in Iceland from about 1055 to 1132. He was mistaken, for the
fragmentary poems it contains are probably rather earlier. They deal
with the myths of early Scandinavian civilization, and are composed in
a simple and archaic form of Icelandic. Who composed them we do not
know, but they were almost certainly collected from oral tradition. The
most important and interesting of these ancient poems is the "Völuspá"
or prophecy of the Völva, or Sybil, who from her lofty seat addresses
Odin, singing of the primeval times before even the gods were created,
of the origin of the Jötunn of men and dwarfs, and of the last dreadful
doom in the 'twilight of the gods' at Ragnorök. The whole composition
is intensely mystical in both atmosphere and wording, shows knowledge
of a cosmology different from that of later Scandinavian times, and is
on the whole extremely difficult to understand. Next we have "Hávamál"
("Lesson of the High One"), a collection of saws and proverbs,
containing a series of stories told by Odin to his own discomfiture.
This is true matter of mythology, and is the sort of material which
strengthens the theory of Lang and others that myth possesses no
religious significance, that it is exoteric to religion, the truth,
of course, being that the above is only one type of myth--the
secular as opposed to the sacred. The cosmogony and chronology of
the Scandinavian religion are set forth in the "Vafprúthnismál," or
"Lesson of Vafprúthnir," a giant who is visited by Odin in disguise
and catechized by him. Many burlesque stories of the gods are also
told in "The Journey of Skirnir," "The Lay of Hoarbeard," and "The
Brewing of Ægir." In the "Song of Thrym" we are told how a giant of
that name stole the hammer of Thor, refusing to restore it unless the
goddess Freya was given him to wife, and how Thor, dressed in female
garments, took her place, slew the giant, and recovered his hammer. A
myth which recounts how the caste system arose in Scandinavia is met
with in "Rígsmál," which tells how the god Hemisdal, taking the human
name of Rig, bestowed the power of procreation on the two dwarfs Ai and
Edda, who became the parents of the race of thralls or bondsmen. A like
gift he bestowed on Afi and Ama, who became the parents of the caste
of churls. He himself brought up Jarl, the first freeman, instructing
him in the arts of war and wisdom. The rest of the Poetic Edda is
concerned with pseudo-history, and, among other things, with the long
and important series of lays relating to the two heroic families of the
Volsungs and the Nibelungs. These, however, are not so much myth as
hero-story. The principal manuscript of the Poetic Edda is the Codex
Regius in the royal library at Copenhagen, written on forty-five leaves
of vellum, probably between 1260 and 1280.


The name _Mabinogion_ is given to a collection of Welsh tales of much
mythological interest.[3] The ancient Britons called a man qualified
for bardic honours a _mabinog_, or graduate, and the traditional
lore which he had to learn by rote was called _mabinogi_ (plural,
_mabinogion_). Only a few of these tales are _mabinogion_ in the
strict sense of the word, and these are the tales of Pwyll, Branwen,
Manawyddan, and Math. Certain Arthurian tales are also included in the
work, but with these we will not deal here. The veritable _Mabinogion_
undoubtedly contain Welsh-Celtic myth. We find in them that process
through which divine beings degenerate into demigods or hero-gods,
thereby bridging the gulf between mythology and romance. The manuscript
original dates from the fourteenth century, but the tales are of the
period between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This is not to say,
however, that they originated then, as elements in many of them may
be traced back to dim primeval days. It is only possible to elucidate
these fragments of bardic literature by the help of the Welsh _Triads_
and the analogies of early Irish literature. Thus in the Irish Tuatha
de Danann we find the counterparts of the Children of Don, also divine.
So also with others of the characters in the _Mabinogion_; Manawyddan
mab Llyr is a variant of Manannan mac Lir, lord of the Irish Hades,
while Govannon may be equated with the Irish smith Goibniu. Several
theories have been advanced to account for the resemblance between
the Welsh and Irish tales. One asserts that the _mabinogi_ tales were
learned by the Welsh Celts from the earlier Gaelic population of Wales,
while another, equally well supported, suggests that the Irish were
the borrowers. This last theory is rendered untenable by the fact that
the _Mabinogion_ has no affinities with the predominant Ulster cycle
of the ninth century (in which the tales are alleged to have been
borrowed), but rather with the older cycle of the Tuatha de Danann,
regarded even in the tenth century as of old mythological origin. A
third and more probable explanation is that both Welsh and Irish tales
belong to a period when those branches of the Celtic family were as yet
unseparated. Similarities of detail may of course result from later
borrowings, but these belong to a different category.

As literature the tales of the _Mabinogion_ far surpass any
contemporary productions, whether English, French, or German. Their
imaginative glamour leaves them without a rival in the literary annals
of any period.


The principal sources of Mexican myth are the writings and observations
of the Spanish _Conquistadores_ in the train of the conquering Cortéz
and his immediate successors in the country. The most important
document for the study of Mexican mythology is the work of Father
Bernardino Sahagun, a monk who flourished in Mexico in the sixteenth

His great work, the _History of the Affairs of New Spain_ (as Mexico
was then called), is the result of years of close study of the people
and their folklore. Not content to take at second-hand mythological or
other details reported to him, he submitted them to a committee of old
and experienced Mexicans, thoroughly acquainted with the antiquities
of their country. After this committee had approved of the inclusion
of the item in his manuscript, Sahagun consulted still other native
authorities, so that his book remains our chief and most reliable
source of information upon Mexican myth. Even so, the account he gives
us of the various deities, their characteristics and attributes, is
very brief and not a little disappointing in its lack of detail,
occupying as it does only about forty pages of print. The second book
deals with calendars and festivals, and in this he supplements in some
degree the information regarding the divine beings treated of in the
first book. The third book is the most valuable to us, for it provides
us with a number of myths relating to the Mexican gods. It acquaints us
with the circumstances of the birth of Uitzilopochtli, of the manner
in which Ouetzalcoatl, god of the Toltecs, was half lured, half driven
from the land by Tezcatlipoca, of how the inhabitants of Tollan, the
city of the Toltecs, were decimated by the malign necromancy of the
same deity working on behalf of less civilized tribes. The remaining
books are occupied with the astrology and customs of the Mexicans.

Torquemada, a later priest, wrote a similar work which, however,
was based upon the matter contained in Sahagun's treatise, still in
manuscript when the former wrote.

A magnificent example of an aboriginal work teeming with mythical
allusions is the _Popol Vuh_, or "Collection of Written Leaves," of
the Kiche Indians of Guatemala, already alluded to in the chapter on
cosmogony. The history of the discovery of the _Popol Vuh_ has already
been related, and it only remains to furnish some account of its
contents. It embraces the creation story of that people, the tale of
the downfall of the earth-giants, the wanderings of the Kiche race, the
adventures of certain hero-gods in the Underworld, and Kiche history
up to a fairly late date. It is divided into four books, the first of
which is the story of the creation and what occurred shortly after.
The universe was dark and in a chaotic condition when the god Hurakan,
the 'Heart of Heaven,' passed over the abyss, and called out "Earth!"
At the word the solid land appeared. Hurakan then summoned the other
gods to consultation regarding their future course of action, among
them Gucumatz and the mother- and father-gods, primeval deities who are
also called 'the Serpents covered with Green Feathers.' The council
of deities agreed that animals should be created, and this was done.
They next resolved to make man, and fashioned certain mannikins out of
wood; but these failed to pay them reverence, and in great wrath the
gods sent a mighty flood accompanied by a resinous rain upon them. The
wretched mannikins, taken unawares, were overwhelmed and nearly all
destroyed; only a few succeeded in getting away, and their descendants
to-day, we are told, are the little monkeys which infest the forests.

After this unlucky experiment the gods turned their attention to
another denizen of the earth, called Vukub-Cakix, a name to be
translated 'the great Macaw.' He seems to have been a primitive sun-
or moon-god, but he offended the pantheon of Heaven by his overweening
pride, which at last became so offensive to the gods that they resolved
to destroy him. He had indeed a person to be proud of, for his teeth
were of emerald and he shone resplendent with gold and silver. He had
two sons, Zipacna and Cabrakan, who were earth-giants like the Titans
of Greek myth. Like their father, they aroused the enmity of the gods,
who dispatched to earth the heavenly brothers Hun-Apu and Xbalanque to
bring about the downfall of these blasphemous boasters.

Vukub-Cakix noticed them alight in the tapal-tree, which he regarded as
his own especial property. They began to pluck its fruit, and this so
irritated him that he was about to attack them when Hun-Apu discharged
a dart from a blowpipe at him, striking him in the mouth and causing
him to topple to the earth from the tree into which he had climbed. He
succeeded, however, in tearing off Hun-Apu's arm, which he hung over
his fire at home. This use of 'sympathetic magic,' of course, caused
the hero-god great pain, so in order to recover the arm he begged the
assistance of two magicians, probably the father- and mother-gods.
These disguised themselves as physicians, and pretending that they
desired to cure Vukub-Cakix, extracted his teeth. With the teeth his
power departed from him and he died. The giant's wife had been basting
Hun-Apu's arm at the fire, but seizing it the hero-god gave it to the
magicians, who replaced it upon his shoulder. Zipacna and Cabrakan, who
personified the earthquake, were next reduced. Four hundred young men
(the stars) requested Zipacna to dig the foundations of a new house for
them, intending to bury him alive while occupied in the task; but when
they had erected their dwelling above him he reared his mighty bulk
beneath it and shot them into Heaven, where they have since remained.
Zipacna, however, tumbling down a ravine, was killed by Hun-Apu and
Xbalanque by having a mountain thrown upon him. Cabrakan was next
destroyed, partly by poison and partly by overstraining himself by
throwing mountains at the instigation of the heavenly brothers.

The father- and mother-gods had two sons, Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hunapu,
who were much devoted to the game of ball, the national pastime of
the peoples of Mexico and Central America. The noise they made while
playing attracted the attention of the lords of the Underworld, who
sent them a challenge to a game. The challenge was accepted, and
Hunhun-Apu and his brother took their way to the grim territory
of Xibalba, where they were received by its rulers Hun-Came and
Vukub-Came. It would seem from what follows that the condition of
affairs in Xibalba closely resembled those of some of the secret
societies still in vogue among the Indians all over North America.
The brothers were subjected to numerous tests, at all of which they
failed, and they were then sacrificed by having their hearts torn out.
Hunhun-Apu's head was placed among the branches of a tree from which
calabashes sprouted in such a manner that the gory trophy could not
be distinguished from the fruit. Although the inhabitants of Xibalba
were forbidden to approach the tree, Xquiq, daughter of one of its
high officials, did so. By magical influence Hunhun-Apu became the
father of her children, and when her father discovered her disgrace she
was given up to the owls, the messengers of Xibalba, to be slain. She
bribed them, and succeeded in escaping to the earth, where she sought
out the dwelling of Xmucane, mother of Hunhun-Apu, and gave birth to
Hun-Apu and Xbalanque, who overthrew Vukub-Cakix. These children were
persecuted by two other sons of Hunhun-Apu, also living with their
grandmother, but by magic they turned their tormentors into monkeys,
and thus rid themselves of them. By the aid of a rat they discovered a
set of implements for the ball game which had belonged to their father
and uncle, and they engaged in the pastime. The lords of Xibalba,
hearing them at play, once more sent a challenge, which was again
accepted. But, more astute than their forbears, ere they reached the
confines of Xibalba, Hun-Apu created from a hair on his leg a small
insect called Xan. This, preceding the brothers, found the lords of
Xibalba sitting among a number of wooden figures. It bit them, and
when they spoke to one another concerning the insect's onslaught, the
brothers discovered their names. When Hun-Apu and Xbalanque arrived
they were thus enabled to salute each of the Xibalbans by his name, and
they passed all the other tests successfully. They were shut up for
the night in the House of Gloom with certain torches which they must
keep alight all night, but they affixed red feathers to the torches,
and thus cheated the Xibalbans. In the House of Bats, Camazotz, the
chief of the bats, cut off the head of Hun-Apu, but a friendly tortoise
passing by affixed itself to the body in place of the head. Xbalanque
then played ball with the Xibalbans, and hit the ball close to the
ring, whereupon a rabbit concealed near it leaped out and ran away. The
Xibalbans, taking it for the ball, pursued it, and Xbalanque, observing
Hun-Apu's head suspended in the ball court, hung up the tortoise in its
place, and affixed Hun-Apu's head to his body and resuscitated him.
The hero-gods then sacrificed themselves, but returned after a space
of five days. Disguised as magicians, they performed many miracles,
resurrecting people, burning houses and restoring them again, and so
forth. Hun-Came and Vukub-Came considered the resurrection trick so
clever that they desired to have it performed upon themselves. The
heroes sacrificed them, but did not revive them. This completed the
subjugation of Xibalba, the people being reduced to a subservient
condition. The aristocratic privilege of the ball game was withdrawn
from them, and they were doomed to keep bees and make pots and perform
suchlike ignoble work. _Post-mortem_ honours were paid to Hunhun-Apu
and Vukub-Hunapu, who became the sun and moon respectively, while the
four hundred youths slain by Zipacna remained in Heaven as the stars.

The _Popol Vuh_ further relates the mythical history of the Kiche
tribes. Four men, Balam-quitze, Balam-agab, Mahucutah, and Iqibalam,
were created by the gods, and the first three were the ancestors of
the three Kiche divisions, Cavek-, Nihaib-, and Ahau-Kiches, the
fourth being without descendants. These were not alone in the world,
as the Yaqui, or Mexicans, also existed, and other cognate tribes
dwelt to the east. The ancestors of the Kiches had been formed too
perfectly by the gods, who, alarmed at their omniscience, cast a veil
over their intellects. Wives were created for them, but they dwelt
in darkness, without sunlight or the comforts of religion. Setting
out on a wandering life, they came to Tulan-Zuiva, where each tribe
received a special god to itself. The want of fire was felt, and the
god Tohil, a thunder-deity, struck his flint-shod feet together and
produced it as required. The other tribes requested the Kiches to
give them fire, but a bat messenger from Xibalba advised them against
acquiescence unless the recipients should consent to be united with
their god "beneath their girdles and beneath their armpits." All agreed
except the Kakchiquel, whose bat-god purloined the seeds of fire. The
riddle-like condition portended that the tribes which consented should
give up their hearts for sacrifice. A general migration followed, the
Kiches as well as other tribes journeying to Guatemala, where on a
mountain-side they sat down to await the dawn. The morning star swam
into view, followed by the great luminary of day, and at sight of it
the tribal gods were turned into stone. The original Kiche ancestors
too withdrew in hermit-like seclusion from mankind, being seen only at
intervals in the wild places in converse with the gods. Human sacrifice
was instituted, and wars with neighbouring peoples began to be waged.
A great attack was made upon the Kiches, who dwelt in a settlement on
the mountains surrounded by a stockade, the object evidently being to
capture the Kiche gods; but the attack was repulsed with great loss to
the invaders. The death day of the first Kiche men was now at hand,
and calling the people together they sang the song with which they had
first greeted the rising of the new-found sun. They then vanished,
leaving behind them a bundle which was afterward known as the 'majesty
enveloped,' and was probably of the same type as the medicine bundles
of the North American Indians.

From this point the _Popol Vuh_ begins to shade into history. The sons
of the first men, desirous of wielding the power possessed by their
fathers, set out on a pilgrimage to the east, to obtain the insignia
of royalty. The Kiches became more civilized, stone-built cities were
raised, and a definite political existence arose. A policy of conquest
was embarked upon, and many of the neighbouring tribes were conquered
and subjected to Kiche rule. What follows probably contains but little
of the matter of myth, and we may conclude that for the most part it is
traditional history.

As has been said, it would be difficult to over-estimate the importance
to mythology in general, and to American myth in particular, of such
a document as the _Popol Vuh_. When we can be sure of its aboriginal
character, and that is not seldom, American myth has the greatest
importance because of its isolated nature. When we first encounter it,
it is untouched by European or Asiatic myth, and this makes it of the
greatest value for comparison. If we can parallel an old-world myth
with a well-authenticated American example, then we have proved the
universal nature of the principles of mythic evolution. Everything
relating to the _Popol Vuh_ proves to the hilt its genuine aboriginal
character; and this being so, it is of the greatest assistance to
mythologists. Unfortunately, no adequate translation exists. The Kiche
language in which it was written is most difficult, and for the
present we have to rely on the Spanish version of Ximenez and the
French translation of the original by the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg.
However, more than one translation is either meditated or in course
of completion; and there is an abridgement in English by the present
writer. An English translation of the whole appeared in an American
magazine entitled _The Word_ during 1906 and 1907, from the pen of
Dr Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, but whether from the Spanish or original
Kiche, I do not know. It is, moreover, couched in Scriptural language,
and such a treatment assists the vulgar error that the _Popol Vuh_ is
merely a native travesty of portions of the Old Testament.


The red man of North America also has his epics. Charles Godfrey
Leland, in the introduction to his book _Kuloskap_ [or Glooscap] _the
Master_, says: "Very few persons are aware that there has perished
or is rapidly perishing among the Red Indians of North America far
more poetry than was ever written by all the white inhabitants, and
that this native verse is often of a very high order, for the Indian
sagas, or legends, or traditions, were in fact all songs.... After I
had published my legends, however, I was made aware by Louis Mitchell,
a Passamaquoddy Indian, who had been in the Legislature of Maine, and
had collected and written out for me, with strictest literalness, a
great number of manuscripts, that there were in existence certain
narratives and poems quite different in kind from anything which I
possessed. Among the former was a history of the Passamaquoddy tribe,
illustrated with numerous designs of the Birch-bark school of art,
which I transferred to my friend the late Dr D. G. Brinton as its
most appropriate possessor. Three of the poems Mitchell wrote out for
me in exact, though often quite ungrammatical language, which was so
close to the original that the metres betrayed themselves throughout.
I regret that, though I had certainly acquired some knowledge of
'Indian,' it was, as a Passamaquoddy friend one day amiably observed,
'only baby Injun now, grow bigger some day like Mikumwess s'posin'
you want to,' in reference to a small goblin who is believed to have
the power of increasing his stature at will. However, I with great
care put the Mitchell Anglo-Algonkin into English metre, having been
impressed, while at the work, with the exquisitely naive and fresh
character of the original, which, while it often reminded me of Norse
poetry, in many passages had strictly a life and beauty of its own."
Leland tells how he began to correspond on the subject with Professor
J. Dyneley Prince of Columbia University, translator of the celebrated
Algonquin _Wampum Record_, recited annually in bygone days at the
council of the tribes. He continues: "Few indeed and far between are
those who ever suspected till of late years that every hill and dale
in New England had its romantic legend, its beautiful poem, or its
marvellous myth--the latter equal in conception and form to those of
the Edda--or that a vast collection of these traditions still survives
in perfect preservation among the few remaining Indians of New England
and the North-east Coast, or the _Wabano_. This assertion is, I trust,
verified by what is given in the Micmac tales by the late Rev. S.
Rand, the collection made by Miss Abbey Alger, of Boston, and my own
_Algonquin Legends of New England_, which I, _sit venia_, may mention
was the first to appear of the series. And I venture to say from the
deepest conviction that it will be no small occasion of astonishment
and chagrin, a hundred years hence, when the last Algonkin Indian of
the _Wabano_ shall have passed away, that so few among our literary
or cultured folk cared enough to collect this connected aboriginal

The lore of the New England Indians centres chiefly round the figure
of Kuloskap, or Glooscap, as good an example of Matthew Arnold's
'magnified non-natural man,' so beloved of Lang, as can well be
imagined. A detailed account of this being and his adventures will be
found in the volume of this series which deals with the North American
Indians. His brother Malsum the Wolf probably typifies the power of
evil. In the myths collected by Messrs Leland and Prince we first
read of the birth of Glooscap and the death of Malsum the Wolf, his
twin brother. Malsum, having slain his mother, desired also to slay
Glooscap, but a supernatural power guarded him, and Malsum's attempts
were frustrated. He asked Glooscap several times what would slay him,
but Glooscap invariably told him a falsehood, until at length, sitting
by a stream, Glooscap muttered that a rush would cause his death.
The beaver, hearing this, acquainted Malsum of the fact and asked as
a reward to be provided with wings; but the Evil One, amused at his
request, insulted him so outrageously that at last he betook himself
to Glooscap, who, plucking a fern, sought Malsum, and having found him
smote him with it so that he fell dead.

The creation of man and the animals is then sung of. First were born
the fairies of the forest, the elves, the little men who dwelt in rocks
(the red man's equivalent for elves and gnomes), the small animistic
spirits which swarm through nature, lending her life and animation and
filling up her crevices. Then Glooscap took his bow and arrows and
shot at an ash-tree. From the hole made by the arrow men came forth,
the first of the human kind. Then Glooscap created animals. At first
he made them of colossal size, but seeing that they were too strong he
made them smaller and weaker in order that man might be able to hunt
them. In the beginning the beaver was the enemy of Glooscap, having on
one occasion disobeyed the Master by drinking from a stream which was
taboo. The god tore up a rock and hurled it at him from a distance of
many leagues, but the beaver dodged it and ran into a mountain, where
he has remained unto this day.

The third part of the epic of Glooscap tells how at one time the
rattlesnakes were Indians. When the great flood was coming Glooscap
gave them fair warning of it, but they answered that they did not care,
and mocked him, shaking their rattles, which were made of turtle-shell
containing small pebbles. The rain began to fall, the thunder roared,
and the lightning flashed, but still the rattlesnakes jeered. Glooscap
had not the heart to drown them, but he changed them all to serpent
form. Glooscap then named the animals and found that man was the lord
of all. He was extremely kind to the creatures he had made. To begin
with all was in darkness, so that men could not even see to slay their
enemies. But Glooscap brought light into the world, and taught mankind
the arts of life, the noble art of hunting, how to build huts and
canoes, how to net the salmon and to make weapons. He showed to men the
hidden virtues of plants and roots and blossoms, taught them the names
of the stars, and acted throughout as a beneficent father to them.

By and by Glooscap withdrew himself from the haunts of men, yet he did
not quit the earth for many years, but dwelt in a remote and almost
inaccessible place. And he made it known to men that whoever should
find him might have one wish granted, whatever that wish might be. For
this reason many Indians sought his abode, though the way was long and
arduous, and not all who set out reached their destination. Some of the
wishers were wise and some foolish. The foolish wishers, or those who
disobeyed the Master, found that the fulfilment of their wishes brought
them no good, but the gifts which the wise ones received were generous
in the extreme. This befell three Indians who visited the abode of
Glooscap. One was a simple, honest Indian, who desired to excel in
the chase. Another was a vain youth who wished to win the hearts of
many maidens. The third was a buffoon whose only care was to create
laughter; he therefore desired the power to utter an unusual cry, known
to sorcerers in old time, which gladdened the hearts of all who heard
it. The first received a magic pipe which would attract all animals
to his nets, and the fulfilment of his wish brought him wealth and
content. The second received a bag, tightly tied, which he was warned
not to open till he reached home. Curiosity overcame him, however, and
on the homeward journey he opened the bag, wherefrom issued a host of
witches in the form of beautiful women, who strangled him with their
embraces. The third received a magic root, and Glooscap warned him
not to eat it till he reached his dwelling. He likewise disobeyed the
command, and found himself gifted with the power to utter the magic
cry; but, to his discomfiture, he could not always restrain it. The
people of the town, at first delighted with the sound, soon tired of
it, and avoided him who uttered it. This so preyed upon his mind that
he betook himself to the woods and committed suicide.

The fourth portion of the epic contains Glooscap's adventures with
the beasts--the loons, beaver, serpent, turtle, frog, and eagle.
Very curious are the tales which describe the origin of the turtle,
Glooscap's uncle, or relate how that crafty being endeavoured to
overthrow the Master and make himself lord over beasts and men; and
those that paint in picturesque language the binding of the Great
Eagle, the Bird-who-blows-the-winds. Many of these stories are
legendary, and purport to explain the existence of certain islands,
streams, and other geographical features, as well as the physical
structure and peculiarities of various animals. Thus the blowing of a
whale is ingeniously explained by the fact that Glooscap at one time
gave the animal a pipe and tobacco; it is smoking!

The fifth part of the epic treats mainly of the god's encounter with
witches and sorcerers, and of his final departure from the earth.
Toward the close of the poem a beautiful nature myth recounts how
Glooscap found the Summer. Long years ago the deity travelled northward
till he came to the lodge of the giant Winter. He entered and sat
down, and his host told him tales of enchantment which cast him into
a death-like sleep. Six months elapsed ere he awoke and proceeded
homeward. With every step the air grew warmer, the earth greener and
more beautiful. At length he came to a shady dell, where fairies were
dancing joyfully, and, seizing their queen, whose name was Summer,
he hid her in his bosom. Then he retraced his steps northward. The
giant Winter still sat in his lodge, and at the coming of Glooscap he
determined to throw the deity into a sleep that would last for ever;
but this time the hidden presence of Summer spoiled the enchantments;
tears of melting ice ran down the cheeks of the giant, and soon both he
and his dwelling were changed to water, while signs of returning life
and vegetation were everywhere apparent. Once more Glooscap turned his
face southward, but the summer-elf he left behind him in the northern

Finally Glooscap abandoned the world, because of the evil that was in
it. For long years he bore with the sinful ways of man, for whom he
had cleared the land of evil demons and monsters, but at length his
patience was exhausted. He made a great farewell feast, and afterward
sailed away in his great canoe. And now he dwells in a splendid
wigwam, continually making arrows. When the lodge is full of them he
will make war on all mankind, and the world will pass away.


How have the written myths we have just reviewed reflected upon the
literature of our own race? Poetry and mythology are connected by an
indissoluble bond. By mythology phenomena are endowed by the barbarian
mind with all the attributes of life and reason. The process is clearly
a poetical one, and by it the savage intelligence is brought very near
to nature. Poetry, in some of its earliest and perhaps purest forms,
is the direct outcome of a series of natural impressions on the mind;
and both poetry and mythology are thus emanations from nature. In a
barbarian state of society the one great theme of poetry is the story
of the divine beings who sway the destinies of humankind. Thus the
odes of Pindar, the epics of the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ of Homer, the
sagas of the early Norsemen, the _Nihongi_ of Japan, the tribal lays
of the American Indians, all celebrate the triumphs, loves, wars, and
destinies of the gods of these several peoples.

It has often been thought peculiar that mythology should have continued
to be the theme of poetry many centuries after the faiths of Greece
and Rome had become extinct. This was because at the period of the
Renaissance, or rebirth of learning and art, in the later Middle Ages,
it became the fashion for literary men to model their writings upon the
classical authors of antiquity. This custom was nowhere more powerful
than in France, whence it was borrowed by English authors, who began to
make large use of classical and mythological allusions in the wondrous
era of letters known as the Elizabethan. Thus we find the works of
Marlowe, Fletcher, Shakespeare, Massinger, Ford, full of allusions to
the principal figures of Latin and Greek mythology. From that period,
indeed, down to our own day the beautiful and heroic myths of Greece
have been the subject upon which many English poets have exercised
their art; and those of them who have not woven tales around these
exquisite fables have made plenteous use of them in the illustration
and ornamentation of more homely themes. The works of all our great
poets abound in allusions co the central figures of Greek mythology.
Spenser, Milton, Dryden, Shelley, Byron, Keats have all embodied in
their verse, or frequently allude to, the immortal tales of Hellas;
and, advancing more nearly to our own time, Tennyson, Morris, and
Swinburne, as well as many minor singers, have written of the deeds and
loves and deaths of the mighty heroes around whom the ancient epics ebb
and flow.

The following paragraphs describe the manner in which the myths of
ancient Greece and Rome have been made use of by English poets, so that
the reader may be enabled to regard the myth in the light of poetry and
the poem in the light of mythology. Thus a double and mutual light may
be cast upon both myth and song. Let us take as an example Shelley's
_Prometheus Unbound_. Whoso knows the poem but not the myth from which
it took its origin is robbed of much pleasure in reading the sublime
verse, the ecstatic measures and magical lyrics with their constant
allusions to the greater mythological characters. Who, for example,
are lone and Panthea? What is the nature of Demogorgon? For what crime
against Jupiter is Prometheus, the Titan,

    Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
    Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured?

Unless these allusions are understood, much of the beauty of such a
work is absolutely lost. Let us see, then, how some of our greatest
singers have regarded the denizens of Olympus and the mortals whose
destinies they swayed.

Ere yet Jupiter seized on the lordship of Heaven and earth, Ophion and
Eurynome ruled in Olympus. They were dethroned by Saturn and Rhea, who
in turn were hurled from power by Zeus, or Jupiter, and Juno. Keats
draws a touching picture of the old, forsaken god Saturn, left to
meditations of a lost empire:

    Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
    Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
    Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
    Sat grey-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone,
    Still as the silence round about his lair;
    Forest on forest hung about his head,
    Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
    Not so much life as on a summer's day
    Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
    But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
    A stream went voiceless by, still deaden'd move
    By reason of his fallen divinity,
    Spreading a shade.

A marvellous picture of shattered power! The grey quiet of the
soundless vale, the unnatural stillness of leaf, and the noiseless
stream, symbolize the inertia of the divinity who was once creative.

In the catalogue of gods in the first book of _Paradise Lost,_ Milton
summarizes the usurpation of the heavenly sceptre first by Saturn and
then by Jupiter in four telling lines:

                      Titan, Heaven's first born,
    With his enormous brood, and birthright seized
    By younger Saturn, he from mightier Jove,
    His own and Rhea's son like measure found;
    So Jove usurping reigned.

An effective picture of the vanquished and fallen Titans is also drawn
by Keats, who says of them:

    Scarce images of life, one here, one there,
    Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque
    Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor.

The simile of the giant and fallen forms to the lightning-shattered
monoliths of some deserted Druid circle is magnificent. Such passages
show how great are the themes which bring forth those stupendous
images, the mightiest offspring of imagination. A great poet might sing
of the things of to-day throughout a lifetime, and yet never so thrill
the imagination as with the dead things which have the glamour of ages
upon them.

Jupiter, as we know, was in the habit of abducting mortals from the
earth, and transferring those who were very beautiful to the bright
clime of Olympus. For this reason he seized upon the shepherd lad
Ganymede, whom he made cup-bearer to the gods, and Asteria, the mother
of Hecate, one of the infernal deities. To effect these captures he
usually took the shape of an eagle. Spenser in _The Faerie Queene_ says
of him:

    Twice was he seen in soaring Eagle's shape,
    And with wide wings to beat the buxom air:
    Once, when he with Asterie did scape;
    Again, when as the Trojan boy so fair
    He snatched from Ida bill, and with him bare:
    Wondrous delight it was there to behold
    How the rude Shepherds after him did stare.
    Trembling through fear lest down he fallen should,
    And often to him calling to take surer hold.[4]

Spenser has another beautiful passage upon one of the captures made by

    Behold how goodly my fair love does lie,
    In proud humility!
    Like unto Maia, when as Jove her took
    In Tempe, lying on the flowery grass,
    'Twixt sleep and wake, after she weary was
    With bathing in the Acidalian brook.

In the second book of _Paradise Lost_ Milton makes Sin spring from the
head of Satan, and it is reasonably conjectured that when he composed
it he must have had in mind the myth of the marvellous birth of the
goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athene. It is Sin who addresses the fallen

    All on a sudden miserable pain
    Surprised thee, dim thine eyes and dizzy swum
    In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
    Threw forth, till on the left side opening wide,
    Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,
    Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess armed
    Out of thy head I sprung.

in times of peace Minerva assisted mankind in the manual crafts, and
she also presided over the fortunes of war. She possessed a shield
called the _ægis_, bearing the severed head of a monster named the
Gorgon, which possessed the magical property of changing into stone
anyone who beheld it. Milton renders her more spiritually formidable
by conceiving that her purity and chastity, not the horrid head of the
Gorgon, froze the hearts of evil-doers into terror:

    What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield
    That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
    Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone,
    But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
    And noble grace that dash'd brute violence
    With sudden adoration and blank awe?[5]

Shelley has a wonderful and not often quoted poem on this Gorgon head,
torn from the body of the monster Medusa to front the _ægis_ of the
goddess of divine wisdom:

    It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,
    Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine;
    Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;
    Its horror and its beauty are divine.
    Upon its lips and eyelids seem to lit
    Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine,
    Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,
    The agonies of anguish and of death.

    Yet it is less the horror than the grace
    Which turns the gazer's spirit into stone,
    Whereon the lineaments of that dead face
    Are graven, till the characters be grown
    Into itself, and thought no more can trace;
    'Tis the melodious hues of beauty thrown
    Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,
    Which humanise and harmonise the strain.

Vulcan, or Hephæstus, was the god of fire, both in its forms of lurid
conflagration and the more kindly glow of the domestic hearth, and his
story is occasionally sung by our British poets. He was a craftsman
of marvellous excellence in all the arts, and made the thunderbolts
wielded by Jupiter. He was also the husband of Venus. His mother Juno
having quarrelled with the King of Heaven, Vulcan took her part and
was cast from Olympus by his enraged sire. He took an entire day to
fall to earth, and at last alighted in the island of Lemnos:

                                 From morn
    To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
    A summer's day, and with the setting sun
    Dropped from the zenith like a falling star
    On Lemnos, th' Ægean isle.[6]

In his amusing "Execration upon Vulcan," which was occasioned by the
fire which destroyed his library and manuscripts, Ben Jonson alludes to
Vulcan as the "lame lord of fire," and continues:

    'Twas Jupiter that hurled thee headlong down,
    And Mars that gave thee a lanthorn for a crown.
    Was it because thou wert of old denied,
    By Jove, to have Minerva for thy bride;
    That since, thou tak'st all envious care and pain
    To ruin every issue of the brain?

Venus, goddess of love, has ever been a theme of delight to poets. She
was the daughter of Jupiter, but is sometimes referred to as springing
from the foam of the sea, as, for example, in the enchanting lines of
Swinburne's "Hymn to Proserpine":

    White rose of the rose-white water, a silver splendour, a flame.

Lord de Tabley also refers to the foam-birth of Venus in the following

    Uranian Aphrodite, fair,
    From ripples of the ocean spray;
    Sweet as the sea-blooms in thy hair
    Rosed with the blush of early day,
    O hear us from thy temple steep
    Where Eryx crowns the Dorian deep.

The attributes and symbols of Venus are neatly described by Ben Jonson
in his masque of _Loves Triumph through Callipolis_. Venus is supposed
to say:

    Here, here I present am,
    Both in my girdle and my flame;
    Wherein are woven all the powers
    The Graces gave me, or the Hours,
    My nurses once, with all the arts
    Of gaining and of holding hearts.

[1] The title of which has also been translated _The Book of the Coming
Forth in Day._

[2] This movable 'life' or heart is known to students of tradition as
the 'life-index.' This is a common incident in medieval romance.

[3] These were translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest, and
published in 1849. Eleven of them are taken from the _Red Book of
Hergest_, a fourteenth-century manuscript in the library of Jesus
College, Oxford. The tale of Taliesin is included with these, but is
taken from a much later manuscript.

[4] Book III, canto xi, 34.

[5] _Comus_.

[6] Milton, _Paradise Lost_, Book I.



It is now time to review briefly the great mythic systems of the
world and to examine and analyse as far as practicable their nature
and outstanding figures. This _résumé_ is added here merely for
completeness, because exhaustive works dealing with the several
mythological systems alluded to in these pages are included in this
series, and to these the student can refer.


Starting with the mythic system practically common to Greece and Rome
as that with which our readers are likely to be most familiar, we find
a mythology a good deal more human than divine; although it would be
untrue to say that it possessed no divine characteristics. However, we
are not in this chapter dealing with the cults or religions underlying
the mythologies we treat of, but _with the mythologies themselves_,
or, as we have elsewhere named it, the theobiography, the gods, their
lives and histories. What status did the gods of Greece occupy in the
minds of those who believed in them? This, of course, differed with
the centuries, but there is pretty good evidence that as they grew
more enlightened the Hellenic people paid less and less reverence to
Olympus, until at last it became almost a byword among them.

In Greece more than in any other country religion and mythology were
two things separate and distinct. In Homer, the Greek gods, headed by
Zeus, dwelt in a condition of society very much akin to that of mortals
in the Homeric Age. Their government appears to have been modelled upon
the social polities of the various Hellenic city-states; and when
republics became the fashion, the gods, partaking of the older order of
affairs, fell somewhat into disrepute, just as the elder dynasties of
Cronus and Uranus, who represented the tribal system of government, had
given place to Zeus when a monarchical system came into vogue.


Zeus, the head of the Greek pantheon, was supposed to dwell on the
summit of Mount Olympus, where he disposed of the affairs both of the
gods and of men. He was probably originally a sky-god, symbolizing the
bright, clear expanse of the heavens, being later, like many other
sky-gods, anthropomorphized. The many stories told of his amorous
adventures in animal form are obviously totemic and fetishistic
legacies which as a great mythical figure he would undoubtedly attract
to himself. As a sky-god he wields the thunder and lightning, conquers
the Titans, and overcomes Gæa, probably the original Earth-Mother--just
as in Babylonian myth Merodach conquered Tiawath. He had several
spouses, the chief of whom was Hera. He was by no means a creative
deity, but he won a wide popularity, and through this and other causes
he came to be head of the pantheon, composed of other gods as well as
of his parents, children, brothers, sisters, or wives. Lang points out
that he may well have begun as a kindly supreme being, and his mythic
character may have been ultimately swamped by the accumulation around
his name of myths concerning older deities. The corresponding Roman god
is Jupiter.


Apollo in tradition is usually a solar deity, but also a civilizer
or culture-hero, and his functions and attributes are manifold. He
superintends the measurement of time, protects herds and flocks, and
is a patron of music and poetry. He has a very active solar connexion
when, for example, he slays with his golden arrows the Python, the
serpent of night or winter. His oracle at Delphi was the most famous in
Greece, and his priestesses were famed as prophetesses. He was usually
portrayed as a young and handsome man crowned with laurel and holding a
lyre in his hand. There is little doubt that many different and perhaps
contradictory myths went to the making of the personality and character
of Apollo, and he has decidedly totemic connexions, as, for example,
the dolphin, the wolf, and the mouse; and perhaps with lizards, hawks,
swans, ravens, and crows. Like Zeus, he attracted to himself the
legends of a great many lesser divinities of the same type.


Hermes, called by the Romans Mercury, was the son of Zeus and the
messenger of the gods. Quick-witted, ready-tongued, and thievish, he is
the traditional patron of lightfingered, sharp people, who can charm
the senses of others as well as the money out of their pockets.


Hephæstus or Vulcan was the god of fire, and the great artist among
the gods. It was he who constructed the shining palaces of Olympus,
the marvellous armour of Achilles, and the necklace of Harmonia. He
also invented the thunderbolt. As a later type of deity, he is the
smith or artificer deified, probably evolved from an older fire-god or


Among the goddesses of the Greek pantheon Hera, the Juno of the Romans,
was paramount because of her status as wife and sister of Zeus. She is
the divine prototype of the wife and mother and the special patroness
of marriage.


Pallas Athene, the Minerva of the Romans, is another composite
deity. She seems to have been a queen of the air or a storm-goddess,
and probably became a war-goddess through her possession of the
lightning-spear. In peace she was looked upon as a patroness of useful
crafts and even of abstract wisdom. She is often depicted with the owl
and the serpent, both emblems of wisdom. It is unusual to discover
a war-or storm-deity posing as the patron of learning, and the exact
manner in which Athene attained to the latter position is extremely


Aphrodite or Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, was probably a
deity of Asiatic origin, and her birth from the sea-foam and home in
Cyprus, where her cult was very strong, confirm the identification of
her myth with that of Ashtaroth or Astarte.


A good deal has been said in this volume about the mythology of Egypt,
and in especial Osiris, Thoth, and Ptah have already been considered,
so that we may say more here of some other important gods of the Nile
country. The reader is reminded that no definite Egyptian pantheon ever
existed, for as dynasties rose and fell, and as the various priestly
colleges throughout the land came into favour in turn, the deities
whose cults they represented rose and fell in popularity--that is, at
no time was there a fixed divine hierarchy like that of Greece.


Ra, the great god of the sun, figured as the head of a hawk, voyaged
daily across the heavenly expanse in his bark. For many dynasties he
was regarded as the greatest of all the gods of Egypt. He is by no
means an intricate mythological figure, and it is plain that he is
neither more nor less than a personification of the sun.


Anubis, the jackal, or dog-headed protector of the dead, presides over
the process of embalming. He seems to have evolved from the dog who
among many primitive people accompanies the deceased in the journey to
the Otherworld.


Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, was a sun-god with many shapes, some
perhaps local, but most of which typified the various stages of the
sun's journey--its rising, its midday strength, its evening decline. He
was the eternal enemy of Set, the night-god, a deity of darkness with
whom he waged constant combat. From being a god of night and darkness
pure and simple, Set came to be regarded as a deity of evil, and was
placed in dualistic opposition to Horus, Ra, or Osiris, who thus
symbolize moral good, the emblem of which is light.


Among the most important Egyptian goddesses is Isis, sister and wife
of Osiris, probably, like her husband, connected with the corn-plant,
although there are also indications that she is a wind-goddess.
She is the great corn-mother of Egypt, perhaps only because of her
connexion with Osiris, and she has the wings of a wind deity, restoring
Osiris to life by fanning him with them. She is a great traveller,
and unceasingly moans and sobs. At times she shrieks so loudly as to
frighten children to death. She typifies not only the dreaded blast,
but the revivifying power of the spring wind wailing and sobbing over
the grave of the sleeping grain.

Nephthys, her sister, is the female counterpart of Set and the
personification of darkness. As such she is also a funerary goddess.


As with Egyptian religion, the faith of the Babylonians and Assyrians
varied with dynasties, for it depended upon the rise to power of a
certain city or province, whose god then became temporarily supreme.
Thus we find Merodach regarded as the chief god in Babylonia, while
farther north in Assyria Asshur held sway, and Merodach had a fairly
long line of predecessors whose powers and dignities he had taken
over. Indeed, we find that he actually appropriated their myths. For
example, in the creation myth cited in our chapter on cosmogony,
Merodach is the hero-god who succeeded in slaying Tiawath, the monster
of the abyss; but in an older version of the story her slayer is the
god En-lil, whose place Merodach usurped later. Round the figure of
Merodach, alluded to as the Bel, the Babylonian title for the highest
divinity, are grouped the other deities in descending degrees of
importance, for, as in the worldly State, the king of the gods was
surrounded by officials of diverse rank.


Merodach, chief god of Babylon, possessed a solar significance; but
it may be improper to connect him in any manner with the sun in its
seasonal stages. He is, in fact, more the lord of light than of the sun
in any special aspect. Although there is evidence that he was regarded
as the spring sun, this was probably a secondary or derived conception
of him, like that which made him a god of battle.


Ea was the Babylonian Neptune. He was figured as half man, half
fish, and was a great culture-hero and the lord of wisdom, probably
because of the depths whence he emanated, symbolic of the profundity
of knowledge. He came every day to the city of Eridu to instruct its
inhabitants in the arts of life, and he was the inventor of writing,
geometry, and law.


Bel, called the 'older Bel' to distinguish him from Bel-Merodach, was
also called Mul-lil or En-lil. He was a god of the Underworld and may
have been relegated thence, like many other deities, on the coming to
power of Merodach.

    Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven

seems to have been the thought of other ancient divinities than
Milton's Satan.

The Babylonians themselves seemed rather doubtful as to the exact
status of this god.

Nirig was a favourite deity in Assyria, and is called in inscriptions
'god of war.'

Anu was the father of the great gods. He may at one time have been the
supreme being of the Babylonian religion, and his cult is of extreme

Nusku was the messenger of the gods and without him the King of Heaven
could not pass judgment upon anything. He seems to have personified
flame or light.

Shamash was the sun in a different sense from Merodach, and he seems
also to have been looked upon as the great judge of the universe,
probably because the sun is able to direct his beams into the darkest
places. He it was who gave the famous code of laws into the hands of
King Hammurabi--according to the 'sun-god tablet' in the British Museum.


Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven, was the great mother-goddess and sexual
goddess of Babylon, and among the Assyrians appears to have been looked
upon as a goddess of battle. She was identified with the planet Venus,
and her cult was associated with that of Tammuz. Her descent into
the Underworld stamps her as a corn-mother, like the Greek Demeter,
the reappearance of whose daughter Persephone clothes the earth with

Allatu was the goddess of the Babylonian Otherworld. Nergal assisted
her, and he was also a god of conflict, disease, and pestilence,
symbolizing the misery and destruction which accompanies warfare.

Sin was the moon-god, and, probably from his connexion with the
calendar, was called 'lord of wisdom.' His worship was surrounded by
much mystery, and a beautiful and touching prayer in the library of
Assurbanipal describes him as being "full of love like the far-off
heaven and the broad ocean."


Asshur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon, had attained to the position
of chief god in it because his city of Asshur was the capital of
Assyria. At the same time his worship was even more strongly national
than that of Merodach in Babylonia. He was the sun personalized, and
he was probably identical in most respects with Merodach. He was, in
fact, the national god of Assyria grafted on to a Babylonian myth.


According to one of the oldest commentators on the Vedas, three
principal deities were known to the Hindus in Vedic times--Agni,
Vayu or Indra, and Surya. Agni appears to personify three forms of
fire--sun, lightning, and sacrificial fire, Indra was a god of the sky
or firmament, twin brother of Agni and king of the gods. Surya was
the sun himself. These three formed a triad. In later Vedic times the
number of the gods was increased to thirty-three, but behind all these
are two more ancient gods of the father and mother type--Dyaus (equated
with the Greek Zeus and an abstract deity of the sky), and Prithivi,
the Earth-Mother. Mitra was perhaps identical with the Persian Mithra
and seems to have ruled over day, while Varuna his companion, also
a sky-god, combined the divine attributes of the other gods. He was
the possessor of law and wisdom and ordered all earthly and heavenly
phenomena. Indra also appears to have been a god of the firmament, but,
in another sense, he was a god of storm and battle; while Soma has been
well described as "the Indian Bacchus."

The gods of the later ages of Hinduism naturally differ considerably
from those of the Vedic period, as might well be expected, considering
the time between the two epochs. It is true that the _Ramayana_ and the
_Mahabharata_ still keep the _personnel_ the old pantheon, but whatever
was animistic in the gods in Vedic times became in the later Puranic
period (named after the written Puranas or traditional myths) wholly
anthropomorphic. Moreover, a definite attempt to arrange a pantheon is
discernible. Eight of the principal gods are revealed as guardians of
the universe, each having rule over a definite domain. Some of them
have even changed their character entirely. For example, we now find
Varuna a god of water; Indra has all the characteristics of a great
earthly chief who has dealings with terrestrial monarchs and who may
be defeated by them in battle. In Hanuman, the monkey king, we perhaps
find a representative of the aboriginal tribes of Southern India.


More important than all these is Brahma. Only a few hymns of the
Vedas appear to deal with him as the one divine, self-existent, and
omnipresent being, but in the later Puranic literature we find him
described as an abstract supreme spirit. With Brahma Hinduism reached
its greatest heights of mystical and metaphysical thought. Such
questions are asked in the _Vishnu Purana_, for example, as: How can a
creative agency be attributed to Brahma, who, as an abstract spirit,
is without qualities, illimitable, and free from imperfection? The
answer is that the essential properties of existent things are objects
of observation, of which no fore-knowledge is attainable, and the
innumerable phenomena are manifestations of Brahma, as inseparable
parts of his essence as heat from fire. Again, this Purana says:
"There are two states of this Brahma--one with, and one without shape;
one perishable, one imperishable; which are inherent in all beings.
The imperishable is the supreme being; the perishable is all the
world. The blaze of fire burning in one spot diffuses light and heat
around; so the world is nothing more than the manifested energy of the
supreme Brahma; and inasmuch as the light and heat are stronger or
feebler as we are near to the fire or far off from it, so the energy
of the supreme is more or less intense in the beings that are less or
more remote from him. Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are the most powerful
energies of God; next to them are the inferior deities; then the
attendant spirits; then men; then animals, birds, insects, vegetables;
each becoming more and more feeble as they are farther from their
primitive source."

The _Vishnu Purana_ gives the following derivation of the word Brahma:
It "is derived from the root _vriha_ (to increase) because it is
infinite (spirit), and because it is the cause by which the Vedas (and
all things) are developed." Then follows this hymn to Brahma: "Glory
to Brahma, who is addressed by that mystic word (_Om_) associated
eternally with the triple universe (earth, sky, and heaven), and who is
one with the four Vedas. Glory to Brahma, who alike in the destruction
and renovation of the world is called the great and mysterious
cause of the intellectual principle; who is without limit in time or
space, and exempt from diminution and decay.... He is the invisible,
imperishable Brahma; varying in form, invariable in substance; the
chief principle, self-engendered; who is said to illuminate the caverns
of the heart, who is indivisible, radiant, undecaying, multiform. To
that supreme Brahma be for ever adoration."

Brahma had his mythological side as Brahmā, apparently a development
specially intended for his employment in myth. There he appears as
the Creator of the world, born from a golden egg which floated on
the waters at the beginning. He went through many avatars or bodily
changes, and is thus the active manifestation of the First Cause,
Brahma. He was connected with two other gods, Vishnu and Siva.

Vishnu is the preserver, as Brahmā is the creator, and he is closely
associated with Indra, whom he assisted to combat the powers of evil.
He it was who rendered the universe habitable for man, "made the
atmosphere wide and stretched out the world." He is a sort of demiurge
patrolling the earth and may have evolved from the idea that the
sun was a great watchful eye ever looking down to inspect what was
occurring on the world below, as do several other deities.

Siva, a development of a Vedic storm-god Rudra, was regarded as a
destroyer or regenerator. He is a god of reproduction and restoration,
but he has a dark side to his character, and has given rise to one of
the most revolting cults of any religion. Durga is a goddess of war and
destruction and the wife of Siva. She is also known as Kali, and, like
her husband, is placated by dreadful rites. Ganesa, the son of Siva, is
an elephant-headed god of wisdom and of good luck. He is also a patron
of learning and literature. He rather resembles the Egyptian Thoth.

A host of lesser deities follow these, notably the Gandharvas, who in
Vedic times constituted the body-guard of Soma, but in Puranic days
became heavenly minstrels, plying their art at the Court of Indra. The
Apsaras are the houris of Indra's court. Indian epics contain many
notices of numerous demigods, and the planets are also deified.

It may be said that in later times the fervour of Hindu worship has
concentrated itself round the two figures of Vishnu and Siva, who from
unimportant Vedic beginnings have evolved into deities of the first
importance. There is a certain rivalry between them, but they are also
complementary, being the beneficent and evil aspects of the divine
spirit. It would seem as if dualism and monotheism had almost met here
to form a third condition of godhead.

New gods of inferior kind have arisen in India and a small pantheon has
been apportioned to each of them, but they do not require description


The mythology of the Teutonic peoples has a strong likeness to those of
the other Aryan races, notably the Greeks, Romans, and Celts. At the
head is Odin or Wotan, who in many respects resembles Zeus or Jupiter.
He is a divine legislator, cunning in Runic lore, and the creator of
mankind. His worshippers pictured him as a one-eyed man of venerable
aspect clad in a wide-brimmed hat and voluminous cloak, and travelling
through the world to observe the doings of men. With his brothers
Vili and Ve he raised the earth out of the waters of chaos. His name
of 'All-Father' shows the exact position he held in the minds of
Scandinavian and Germanic folk. His wife, Freya, is much akin to Juno
or Hera. She was the matron and housewife deified and the patroness of


The malevolent deity was represented by Loki, perhaps originally a
fire-god, and ever at the elbow of Odin offering him evil counsel. Loki
is one of the most interesting figures in any mythology. He is both
friend and foe to the Æsir or divine beings and seems to have reduced
to a fine art the policy of running with the hare and hunting with the
hounds. We find him assisting at the making of humanity and we also
discover him acting as steersman to the ship that brings the forces of
evil to combat with the gods on the last great day of reckoning. At
times he would employ his natural cunning on behalf of the gods, at
other times use it for their ignominious defeat. Protean in character,
he could assume any shape he chose at will. He has been alluded to as
the great riddle of Teutonic mythology, but it may be that this riddle
represents fire in its beneficent and maleficent aspects. Indeed, the
name Logi is given elsewhere to a certain fire-demon, and this almost
clinches the matter. His many evil deeds were at last punished by his
being chained to a rock like Prometheus, while over his head hung a
serpent whose venom fell upon his face. The fact that Prometheus, also
a fire-god, met the same fate is one of those baffling resemblances
which occasionally confront the student of myth, and set him on a
lifetime's search for the connexion between the stories. The great
danger is that such a seeker may become enamoured of some fantastic
solution. Frequently a possible solution leaps into consciousness
with all the rapidity of an inspiration; but there are true and false
inspirations, and the difficulty is to distinguish between them. They
should be ruthlessly subjected to a melting and remelting process in
the crucible of comparison until only the pure gold remains. Had this
scientific process been rigorously adopted by all mythologists, the
scientific value of the study would have been enormously enhanced and
it would possess greater uniformity; for although magnificent work
has been achieved, far too much loose thinking has been indulged in,
and at the present time we are reduced to groping for standards and
definitions in a manner quite extraordinary.


Thor, the god of thunder and lightning, possesses a hammer which
symbolizes the thunder, as the spear or arrow of some other gods
typifies the lightning. The hammer sometimes symbolizes the
world-shaping god, the creative divinity, but perhaps not in regard to
Thor. His red beard is probably symptomatic of the lightning, like the
red limbs of some American thunder-gods. He is the foe of the Jötunn
or giants, and he bulked very largely indeed in the myths of the
Norsemen. At the same time, like most thunder-gods who bring in their
train the fructifying winds and rains, Thor presided over the crops
and was thus the friend of peasants. Indeed his wife, Sif, is usually
portrayed as a peasant woman of the Scandinavian type. He is the patron
of countrymen, slow of speech and wit, if quick to strike with his
hammer Mjolnir.


The mythology of the Celts shows an early connexion with that of
the Teutons on the one hand and the Græco-Roman races on the other.
Perhaps originally all possessed a common mythology, which altered
upon their geographical separation. The priestly caste placed many of
the old myths upon a definite literary footing, but these again were
manufactured into pseudo-history by Geoffrey of Monmouth and kindred
writers, so that it is often impossible to discover their original
significance except by analogy. Animistic myths, however, survived the
establishment of anthropomorphic gods among the Celts. Agricultural
and seasonal deities were in the ascendant, as became an agricultural
people, but not to the exclusion of totemic influences. Later,
culture-gods of music, poetry, and the manual arts sprang up or were
developed from existing deities. In the Gaulish pantheon, concerning
which we have little information, we find Cæsar equating no less than
sixteen local gods with the Roman Mercury, many with Apollo (among chem
Borvo, Belenos, and Grannos), while with Mars other writers equate
Camulos, Teutates, Albiorix, and Caturix, probably tribal war-gods.
With Minerva was compared the horse-goddess Epona, while Berecyntia, a
goddess of Autun, is compared by Gregory of Tours with the Italian Bona
Dea. Inscriptions make Aeracura the equivalent of Dispater. Turning to
Ireland, we possess later and therefore more satisfactory data, based
on mythic tales of a far earlier date. These stories speak of immigrant
races named the Tuatha de Danann (children of the goddess Danu), the
Fomorians, the Firbolgs, and Milesians, of whom the first two classes
are divine. Among these warring elements the Fomorians are a race of
Titans. Balor, one of their leaders, is a personification of the evil
eye; nothing could live beneath his glance. Bres seems to have been
a deity of growth--a vegetation-god. Dea Domnann was a species of
Celtic Tiawath (Babylonian goddess of the abyss). Tethra was lord of
the Underworld. _Nét_ was a war-god. These were all gods of an early
aboriginal race, and in later Irish myth are regarded as uncouth giant


Danu, mother of the race, was considered as a daughter of Dagda. She
seems to have been an Earth-Mother.

The Tuatha de Danann, or Tribe of the Goddess Danu, have many congeners
in British myth, and their worship appears to have been brought from
Gaul or Britain. They were conquered by the Milesians and, retiring to
the Underworld, appear to have taken the place of fairies, for they
are later called _sidhe_ or 'fairy folk.' Dagda (the 'good hand' or
'good god'), father of Danu, played the spring season into being with
his harp. He fed the whole earth out of an immense pot or cauldron
called Undry, the symbol of plenty. His was the perfection of knowledge
and understanding. He is undoubtedly the great Celtic god of growth,
and was probably originally a sun-deity, as his harp and his wisdom
show, Ængus, his son, who supplanted him, resembled him. Nuada of the
Silver Hand is a culture-hero and a cunning craftsman. He has a British
equivalent, Llud Llaw Ereint, the 'silver-handed,' and both, like all
culture-heroes, were connected with the sun and with growth. Manannan
is a sea-god, and the Isle of Man may perhaps have taken its name from
him when it was regarded as an Elysium. He is the same as the British
Manawyddan. Lug (Welsh _Lieu_) is a craftsman and inventor of many
arts, and is frequently alluded to as 'Lug of the Long Arm'; whence
some authorities have seen in him a solar god, as the beams or arms of
the sun reach from heaven to earth.

Ogma is master of poetry and the supposed inventor of the 'ogham'
script, which is said to be called after him. His eloquence excited the
gods to valour in battle. Diancecht ('swift in power') was a god of the
healing art. Goibniu, a god of smith-craft and magic, manufactured
arms for the gods and brewed ale for them. Brigit was a goddess of
poetry and wisdom, and, like the Greek Pallas Athene, may have been at
one time the goddess of a cult especially female. The Morrigan, Naman,
and Macha are war-goddesses of sanguinary character.


Among purely British gods, Bran, son of Llyr, the sea-god, presided
over minstrelsy, and may have been a god of the fertile Underworld or
the realm of the dead, the Celtic Elysium. Gwydion, also a bard, is a
diviner as well, and, like the Greek Proteus, is expert at changing
his form. Amaethon appears to have been an agricultural deity, and the
name seems to be connected with _amaeth_, the Welsh for 'plough-man.'
He is credited with bringing certain domestic animals from the Land of
the Gods to the World of Men, and this suggests totemism. Arianrhod,
wife and sister of Gwydion, is perhaps an earth-goddess, but her
significance is obscure. Bilé is probably a sun-god, and is equated
with Apollo. Keridwen is a goddess dwelling in an under-water Elysium.
She is described as a goddess of inspiration and poetry, and possesses
a cauldron which is the source of all inspiration. Her son Avaggdu was
cursed with hideousness, so his mother resolved to boil the cauldron of
inspiration to compensate him for his ugliness. Gwion Bach, requested
to watch it until it boils, steals the gift of inspiration for himself.
He flees, and is pursued by Keridwen, but changes into various shapes.
She follows his example, and at length in the form of a hen she
swallows him as a grain of wheat. She later gives birth to him, throws
him into the sea, and he becomes the bard Taliesin, famous for his
poetic fire, the gift of the cauldron of inspiration.


The mythologies of America are chiefly of interest because they
illustrate and supplement the faiths of the Old World, and this is
especially the case with the mythology of Mexico, which represents
a phase of religious evolution considerably more advanced than the
beliefs of the red man of the North American plains or the barbarians
of the South American continent. In ancient Mexico we have one of
the only three American mythological systems which attained anything
like religious cohesion, or exemplified the higher reaches of
ethical religious thought. The religion of ancient Mexico has been
classified as a religion of the lower cultus, but the folly of such a
classification is extreme, and it has, of course, emanated from persons
who have made no especial study of the mythology of Mexico. To range it
with such religions as those of the aborigines of Australia or those of
some African tribes is incorrect, as a brief account of it will prove
to the reader.

When the Spaniards finally conquered Mexico the more intelligent among
them, although for the most part military men and priests, began to
interest themselves in the antiquities and religion of the people they
had conquered. The accounts they have left of the Aztec faith are,
of course, unscientific, but we can gather a great deal from them by
analogy and comparison with Old World faiths. We find that the Aztec
population of Mexico worshipped gods who, if they did not form a
pantheon or hierarchy, had each a more or less distinct sphere of his
own. One of these, Tezcatlipoca, has been called the Jupiter of the
Aztec pantheon, and seems to deserve this name.

Bernal Diaz, one of the Spanish conquerors, describes this god as
having the face of a bear, and this error has been handed down from
generation to generation of writers on Mexican mythology, is repeated
in books of reference, and is generally accepted because of its
antiquity. As I have shown elsewhere (_Edinburgh Review_ for October
1920), Tezcatlipoca was probably a development of the obsidian stone,
which was employed for the purpose of making both sacrificial knives
and polished mirrors in which future events were supposed to be viewed.
This stone, too, was regarded as capable of raising wind or tempests.
Tezcatlipoca was supposed to rush through the highways at night, and
in this connexion he probably symbolized the night wind, but from
analogy with other North American Indian gods of a like character it
is most probable that in later times he came to be thought of as a
personification of the breath of life. The wind is usually regarded
as the giver of breath and the source of immediate life. One of
Tezcatlipoca's names was Yoalli Ehecatl, or Night Wind, and this leads
us to suspect that he was the giver of all life. In many mythologies
the name of the chief deity is derived from the same root as the word
'wind,' and in others the words 'soul' and 'breath' have a common
origin. Thus the Hebrew word _ruah_ is equivalent to both wind and
spirit, as is the name of the Egyptian god Kneph. Strangely enough,
however, Tezcatlipoca was also regarded as a death-dealer, and some of
the prayers addressed to him are pitiful in their tone of entreaty that
he will refrain from slaying his devotees. The probable reason for this
is that his worship, however it became so, was so extremely popular
as almost to eclipse most other Mexican deities, and owing to this
popularity his idea achieved such an enormous significance in the Aztec
mind that he began to be regarded as a god of fate and fortune with
power to ban or bless as he saw fit, and therefore to be sedulously
placated by prayer and sacrifice.


Next to him in importance, but scarcely less in the popular estimation,
was Uitzilopochtli, tutelar deity of the Aztec people and god of war.
Legends told how he led the Aztec tribes from their home of origin into
the valley of Mexico in the shape of a humming-bird. He was represented
as wearing a garment of humming-bird's feathers, and his face and limbs
were painted black and yellow. Enormous sacrifices of human beings were
made at stated intervals to this god, whose great _teocalli_ or pyramid
temple in the city of Mexico was literally a human shambles, where
prisoners of war were immolated on his altar; but he also appears,
like some other war-gods, to have an agricultural significance. His
mother was the goddess of flowers, and he himself was associated with
the summer and its abundance of crops and fruit. This was because of
his possession of the war-spear or dart, which with the Aztecs as
with many another people symbolized the lightning and therefore the
thunder-cloud with its fructifying rain.

But the real rain-god, or rather the god of moisture, of the Aztecs
was Tlaloc, upon whose co-operation the success of the crops depended.
He dwelt in the mountains which surround the Mexican valley, and he is
represented in sculpture in a semi-recumbent position, with the upper
part of the body raised upon the elbows and the knees half drawn up,
to enable him to hold the vase in which the sacred grain was kept.
The _tlaloque_ or rain-spirits were regarded as his progeny, and he
manifested himself in three ways, by the flash, the thunder, and the
thunderbolt. His dwelling, Tlalocan, was a fruitful and abounding
Paradise where those who were drowned, struck by lightning, or who had
died of dropsy were certain to go. In the native paintings part of his
face is of a dark colour, probably to represent the thunder-cloud,
Numerous children were sacrificed to him annually, and if they wept it
was regarded as a happy omen for a rainy season.

One of the most important and picturesque Aztec deities was
Quetzalcoatl, probably a god of the pre-Aztec inhabitants of Mexico,
the Toltecs. The name signifies 'feathered serpent', and the myths tell
how he played the part of culture-hero in Mexico, teaching the people
the arts and sciences; but by the cunning of Tezcatlipoca he was driven
from the land, and, embarked upon a raft of serpents, he floated away
to the East, the land of sunrise, where dwelt his father, the sun. A
number of authorities have seen in Quetzalcoatl a god of the air, and
even a moon-deity. He is obviously the trade wind, which carries the
rain, and is driven from the country by Tezcatlipoca, the anti-trade

A regular group of gods presided over the food supply and agriculture
of Mexico: Xilonen and Chicomecohuatl were maize-goddesses, and
Centeotl, a god, also presided to some extent over the maize. The
earth-goddess Toci or Teteoinnan was regarded as the progenitrix or
mother of the gods. Sun-worship was extremely popular in Mexico, and
the sun was regarded as the god _par excellence_. Moreover, he was the
deity of warriors to whom he granted victory in battle that they might
supply him with food.


The Chinook Indians of the north-west coast of America possess a
religious system of great interest to the student of myth, and we
must deal with it at some length. The Chinooks were divided into two
linguistic groups with numerous dialectic differences--Lower Chinook
(comprising Chinook proper and the Clatsop), and Upper Chinook
(comprising the rest of the tribe). The Lower Chinook dialects are
now practically extinct; of persons of pure Chinook blood only about
three hundred now exist. Upper Chinook is still spoken by considerable
numbers, but the mixture of blood on the Indian Reservation, where they
dwell, has been so great that the majority using the dialect are not
really Chinooks.


The stage of religious evolution to which the beliefs of the Chinooks
belong is 'zootheism,' where no line of demarcation exists between man
and beast, and all phenomena are explained in the mythic history of
zoomorphic personages who can hardly be described as gods. The original
totemic nature of these beings it would be difficult to gainsay, but
they occupy a position between the totem and the god proper--a rank
which has been the lot of many evolving deities.

Allied with these beliefs we find shamanistic medico-religious
practices invoking assistance for the sick.

Their mythological figures fall into four classes: (1) supernatural
beings of a zoomorphic type, with many of the attributes of deity; (2)
guardian spirits; (3) evil spirits; (4) culture-heroes.

The first class includes the Coyote, Blue Jay, Robin, Skunk, and
Panther, etc. As has been said, there is little doubt that such beings
were originally totems of various Chinookan clans, although these clans
are without special tribal names, being simply designated as 'those
dwelling at such and such a place.' They may, however, have lost their
tribal names--a common occurrence when tribes become sedentary--while
retaining their totemistic concepts.

Italapas, the Coyote, is one of the Chinook gods of the first class,
and may be regarded as the head of the pantheon. Nearly equal to him
in importance is Blue Jay, who figures in nearly every myth of Chinook
origin; but whereas Italapas the Coyote assisted Ikanam, the Creator,
in the making of men, and taught them various arts, Blue Jay's mission
is obviously dissension; and he well typifies the bird from which he
takes his name, and probably his totem derivation. He figures as a
mischievous tale-bearer, braggart, and cunning schemer, and resembles
Loki of Scandinavian mythology.

His origin is touched upon in a myth of the journey of the Thunderer
through the country of the Supernatural People, where, with Blue Jay's
help, the Thunderer and his son-in-law obtain possession of the bows
and targets of the inhabitants. They engage in a shooting-match and win
at first by using their own targets, but when the Supernatural People
suspect craft, they agree to the substitution of shining Supernatural
targets for their own, and lose; and, as they had staked their own
persons in the match, they fall into the power of the Supernatural
beings, who wreak vengeance upon Blue Jay by metamorphosing him into
the bird whose name he bears. "Blue Jay shall be your name and you
shall sing 'Watsetsetset-setse,' and it shall be a bad omen."

There is a trilogy of myths concerning Blue Jay and his sister Ioi.
Ioi begs him to take a wife to share her labour, and Blue Jay takes
the corpse of a chief's daughter from her grave and carries her to the
land of the Supernatural People, who restore her to life. The chief,
her father, discovers the circumstance, and demands Blue Jay's hair in
payment for his daughter, but Blue Jay changes himself into his bird
shape and flies away--an incident which suggests his frequent adoption
of human as well as bird form. When he flees, his wife expires again.
The ghosts then buy Ioi, Blue Jay's sister, for a wife, and Blue Jay
goes in search of her. Arriving in the country of the ghosts, he finds
his sister surrounded by heaps of bones, to which she alludes as her
relations by marriage. The ghosts take human shape occasionally, but
upon being spoken to by Blue Jay become mere heaps of bones again. He
takes a mischievous delight in reducing them to this condition, and
in tormenting them in every possible manner, especially by mixing the
various heaps of bones, so that, upon materializing, the ghosts find
themselves with the wrong heads, legs, and arms, In fact the whole myth
is obviously one which recounts the 'Harrying of Hell,' so common in
savage and barbarian myth, and probably invented to reassure the savage
as to the terrors of the next world, and to instruct him in the best
methods of foiling its evil inhabitants. We find the same atmosphere
in the myth of the descent into Xibalba of Hun-Apu and Xbalanque in
the _Popol Vuh_ of the Kiche of Guatemala, hero-gods who outwit and
ridicule the lords of Hell.

Skasa-it (Robin) is Blue Jay's elder brother, and his principal
occupation is making sententious comments on the mischievous acts of
his relative. The Skunk, Panther, Raven, and Crow are similar figures.
That most of these were anthropomorphic in shape--probably having
animals' or birds' heads upon men's bodies--is proved not only by the
protean facility with which they change their shapes, but by a passage
in the myth of Anektcxolemix, mentioning "a person who came to the fire
with a very sharp beak, and began to cut meat"; and another 'person'
splits logs for firewood with his beak. Such ideas are notoriously
incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the distorted appearance of
Nature--due to an intense familiarity with and nearness to her--in the
savage mind.

Evil spirits are many and various. The most terrible appears to be
the insatiable Glutton, who devours everything in a house, and when
the meat supply comes to an end kills and eats the occupants. In the
myth of Okulam he pursues five brothers, after eating all their meat,
and devours them one by one, except the youngest, who escapes by the
good offices of the Thunderer, Ikenuwakcom, a being of the nature of a
thunder-god, and marries his daughter.

Besides being reckoned as deities of zoomorphic or sometimes
anthropomorphic type, Blue Jay, Italapas, and the others may be
regarded as hero-gods or culture-heroes, although not always prompted
by the highest motives in their activities. They are markedly
egotistical, every action being dictated by a desire to prove superior
in force and cunning to the foe. To overcome difficulties by craft is
the delight of the savage, and those gods who are most skilled in such
methods he honours most. In the myths of Blue Jay and his sister Ioi,
Blue Jay repeatedly scores against his adversaries, but in the end he
is punished himself, and it is difficult to say whether or not the
world was any the wiser or better for his efforts. The idea of good
accomplished is a purely relative one in the savage mind, and cannot be
appreciated to any extent by uncivilized persons.

The shamans of the Chinooks were a medico-religious fraternity,
the members of which worked individually, as a general rule, but
sometimes in concert. Their methods were much the same as those of the
medicine-men of other Indian tribes in a similar state of belief, but
were differentiated from them by various thaumaturgical practices which
they made use of in their medical duties. These were usually undertaken
by three shamans acting in concert for the purpose of rescuing the
'astral body' of a sick patient from the Land of Spirits. The three
shamans who undertook the search for the sick man's spiritual body
threw themselves into a state of clairvoyance; their souls, temporarily
detached from their bodies, then followed the spiritual track of the
sick man's soul. The soul of the shaman with a strong guardian spirit
was placed first, the next in degree last, and that of the priest with
the weakest guardian spirit in the middle. When the trail of the sick
man's soul foreshadowed danger or the proximity of any supernatural
evil, the soul of the foremost shaman sang a magical chant to ward it
off; and if a danger approached from behind, the shaman in the rear did
likewise. The soul was usually thought to be reached about the time
of the rising of the morning star. If possible, it was laid hands on
and brought back, after a sojourn of one or perhaps two nights in the
regions of the supernatural. The shamans next replaced the soul in the
body of their patient, who forthwith recovered. Should the soul of a
sick person take the trail to the left, the pursuing shamans would say,
"He will die"; whereas, if it took a trail toward the right, they would
say, "We shall cure him."

When the spirits of the shamans reached the well in the Land of the
Ghosts where the shades of the departed drink, their first care was to
ascertain if the soul of him they sought had drunk of these waters;
had it done so, all hope of cure was past. If they laid hold of a soul
that had drunk of the water, it shrank as they neared home, so that it
would not fill the sick man's body, and he died. The same superstition
applied to the spirit eating ghostly food. Did the sick man's soul
eat on the astral plain, then was he doomed indeed. In this belief
we have a Greek parallel: Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the
corn-mother, might not return to earth permanently, because Pluto had
given her to eat of the seed of a pomegranate. The taboo regarding the
eating of the food of the dead is almost universal. We find it in the
Finnish _Kalevala_, where Waïnamoïmen, visiting Tuonela, the place of
the dead, refuses to drink, and in Japanese and Melanesian myth-cycles.
Likewise, if the spirit enters the house of the ghosts, it cannot
return to earth. These beliefs apply not only to human beings, but also
to animals, and even to inanimate objects. For example, if the astral
counterpart of a horse or a canoe be seen in ghost-land, unless they
are rescued from thence by the shaman they are doomed.


Another interesting North American mythology is that of the Choctaw
Indians, formerly occupying Middle and South Mississippi from Tombigbee
River to the borders of Dallas County, Georgia. The Choctaw religion
is almost unique among the North American Indian religions, as it is
a union of animism and sun-worship, or, more correctly speaking, the
two systems may be observed side by side among this and allied peoples
of the Muskhogean stock. They have a supreme being whom they designate
Yuba Paik, 'Our Father Above'; but whether this conception arose from
contact with missionaries or is genuinely aboriginal it is impossible
to say. The term may be collective, like the Hebrew _Elohim_ or the
Latin _Superi,_ and may include all the powers of the air. It is
perhaps more likely that it evolved from the word for sky, as did Zeus,
the Nottoway Qui-oki, the Iroquois Garonhia, and the ancient Powhatan
Oki. This supposition is strengthened by the cognate Greek expression,
signifying 'He who lives in the sky.' As usual among North American
Indian tribes, the Choctaws confound the sun with fire; at least they
refer to fire as Shahli miko,'the greater chief,' and speak of it as
Hashe ittiapa, 'He who accompanies the sun and the sun him.' On going
to war they call for assistance from both sun and fire, but, except
as fire, they do not address the sun, nor does he stand in any other
relation to their religious thought. He is not personified, as, for
example, among the Peruvians, or worshipped as the supreme symbol of
fire. In American religions, generally speaking, what appears on the
surface to be sun-worship pure and simple usually resolves itself, upon
closer examination, into the worship of light and fire. Indeed the
cognate Natchez word for 'sun' is derived from that for 'fire,' and the
sun is referred to as 'the great fire.' The expression 'sun-worship'
must, then, be understood to imply an adoration of all fire, symbolized
by the sun.

The Muskhogean tribes, according to tradition, were originally banded
in one common confederacy, and unanimously located their earliest
ancestry near an artificial eminence in the Valley of the Big Black
River in the Natchez country, whence they believed they had emerged.
Gregg states[2] that they described this to him and another traveller,
and calls it "an elevation of earth, about half a mile square, and
fifteen or twenty feet high. From its north-east corner a wall of
equal height extends for nearly half a mile to the high land."[3] This
eminence they designated Nunne Chaha, or Nunne Hamgeh, 'the High Hill,'
or 'the Bending Hill,' known to the Muskhogees as Rvne em mekko, or
'King of Mountains.' This looks as if the Choctaws alluded to some of
those immense artificial mounds so common in the Mississippi valley.
When De Soto passed through the Gulf State country in 1540-41, the
tribes inhabiting it--Creeks, Choctaws, etc.--were still using, and
probably constructing, mounds; and from this it is inferred that
they and no others were the famous 'Mound-builders' of American
archæology--a theory now adopted by the officials of the U.S. Bureau
of Ethnology and the majority of modern Americanists. Wilson, writing
in 1875, considerably before the modern theory of the 'Mound-builders'
gained general credence, states that "analogies to these structures
have been traced in the works of Indian tribes formerly in occupation
of Carolina and Georgia. They were accustomed to erect a circular
terrace or platform on which their council-house stood. In front
of this a quadrangular area was enclosed with earthen embankments,
within which public games were played and captives tortured.... Upon
the circular platform it is also affirmed that the sacred fire was
maintained by the Creek Indians as part of their most cherished rites
as worshippers of the sun."[4] He adds that, although the evidence does
not seem very clear, analogies point "to the possibility of some of
the Indian tribes having perpetuated on a greatly inferior scale some
maimed rites borrowed from their civilized precursors."

Several proved analogies between the worship of the 'Mound-builders'
and the Indians exist: for example, there is unmistakable evidence
that one of the sacred altars of 'Mound City' was specially devoted to
nicotian rites and offerings. The discarded stones, also, found in the
mound country are the same as those used by the Muskhogean people in
the name of _chunkey_, which has probably a solar significance.

Like the other Muskhogean tribes, the Choctaws believed that before
the Creation a great body of water alone was visible. Two pigeons flew
to and fro over its waves, and at last espied a blade of grass rising
above the surface. Dry land gradually followed, and the islands and
mainland took their present shapes. In the centre of the hill Nunne
Chaha, already mentioned, was a cave, the house of the Master of Breath
(Esaugetuh Emissee). There he took clay, and fashioned the first men;
and, as at that period the waters covered the earth, he raised a great
wall to dry them on. When the soft mud had hardened into flesh and
bone, he directed the waters to their present places, and gave the dry
land to the men he had made. The fact that the Choctaws were divided
into eight clans has been cited by Brinton[5] in confirmation of the
view that the myth of their origin was akin to those American legends
which give to the majority of the Indian tribes a descent from four
or eight brothers who emanated from a cave. Such a myth was in vogue
among the Tupi-Guarani of Brazil, the Muyscas of Bogota, the Nahua of
Mexico, and many other tribes. They possessed an ancient tradition
that the present world will be consumed by a general conflagration,
after which it will be made a much more pleasant place than it now
is, and that then the spirits of the dead will return to the bones in
the bone-mound, become covered with flesh, and once more occupy their
ancient territory.

The Choctaws believe that after death those "who have behaved well" are
taken under the care of Esaugetuh Emissee ('Master of Breath') and well
looked after; that those who have behaved ill are left "to shift for
themselves"; and that there is no further punishment. They also believe
that when they die the spirit flies westward "as the sun goes," and
there joins its family and friends "who went before it." They do not
believe in a place of punishment, or in any infernal power.

Although the sun appears to have been their chief deity, the Choctaws
conceived Esaugetuh Emissee, or the 'Master of Breath,' as the creative
agency, at least where man was concerned, so that he may have acted as
a demiurge. This deity has many counterparts in American mythologies,
and appears to be the personification of the wind, the name being
onomatopoetic. The deification of the wind as soul or breath is common
to many mythologies.

We see a totemic significance in the fact that the alligator was
worshipped, or at least venerated, by the coast and river tribes of the
Muskhogeans, and never by any chance destroyed by them. The myth of
the horned serpent was also in vogue among them, and was practically
identical with that told by the Cherokees to Lieutenant Timberlake; and
the charm which they presented to their young men when they set out on
the war-path was composed of the bones of the panther and the horn of
the fabulous horned snake.

This snake dwelt in the waters, and the old people went to the shore
and sang sacred songs to it. It rose a little out of the water; the
magic chant was repeated, and it then showed its horns. They cut off
the horns, and, when occasion necessitated, placed a fragment of them
in their 'war-physic,' to ward off the arrows of enemies.

The priests of the Choctaws, as is usual among Indian tribes, were
medicine-men and diviners. The office of high priest, or 'Great Beloved
Man,' as he was called, was kept in one family, passing from father
to eldest son. The junior priests are described as dressed in white
robes and carrying on their head or arm a great owl-skin stuffed
very ingeniously, as a symbol of wisdom and divination. They were
distinguished from the rest of the tribe by their taciturnity, grave
and solemn countenance, and dignified carriage, and went about the
settlements singing to themselves in a low, almost inaudible voice.
They possessed an apparently esoteric language, which examination
by competent scholars has proved to be merely a modification of the
ordinary speech. It contains some words unknown in the idiom of daily
life, but they are archaisms, or borrowed from other peoples, along
with the ceremonies or myths to which they refer.


One of the best examples of a South American religion is that of the
Araucanian Indians of Chile. Early accounts credit them with a fairly
exalted theogony, with a supreme being, the author of all things,
called Pillan--a name derived from _pulli_ or _pilli_, 'the soul,'
and signifying Supreme Essence. Pillan is, according to the Austrian
missionary Dobrizhoffer,[6] their word for thunder. They also called
him Guenu-pillan, 'the Spirit of Heaven,' and Annolu, 'the Infinite,'
besides many other lesser names. The native tribal life was but a
microcosm of his celestial existence; everything was modelled upon the
heavenly polity of Pillan, who was called, in his aspect of Supreme
Ruler, Toquichen, or 'the Great Chief' of the invisible world. He had
his _apo-ulmenes_ and his _ulmenes_, or greater and lesser sub-chiefs,
like the chief of any prairie confederacy; and to them he entrusted the
administration of his affairs of lesser importance.

In Pillan it is easy to trace a mythological conception widely
prevalent among the indigenous American peoples. He is unquestionably
a thunder-god, similar to such deities as the Hurakan of the Kiches
of Guatemala, the Tlaloc of the Mexicans, and the Con or Cun, the
thunder-god of the Collao of Peru. The gathering of clouds round great
mountain peaks like those of the Andes, and the resultant phenomena
of thunder and lightning, kindle in the savage mind the idea that the
summits of these mountains are the dwelling-place of some powerful
supernatural being, who manifests his presence by the agencies of fire
and terrifying sound. Supernatural beings of this kind are usually
described by the Indians as red in colour, having neither arms nor
legs, but moving with incredible swiftness, difficult of approach
because of their irascibility, but generous to those who succeed in
gaining their favour. They are in general placated by libations of
native spirit poured into the pools below the snow-line, and in case
of drought are roused from inactivity by the sympathetic magic of
'rain-making,' in which the magician or priest sprinkles water from a
gourd over the thirsty soil.

The _apo-ulmenes_, or greater deities, subservient to Pillan are
several in number. The chief is Epunamun, or god of war, whose name
is apparently of Peruvian origin. He may have been a type adopted
from the Incan sun-idol Punchau Inca, or the 'Sun-Inca,' depicted
as a warrior armed with darts. There can be little doubt that the
mythology of the Araucanians, as opposed to their mere demon-worship,
was highly coloured by, if not altogether adopted from, that of their
Peruvian neighbours, the Aymara. And when we find that this Peruvian
sun-idol was originally brought to the Incan court by a chief of the
Collao who worshipped Cun (adored by the Araucanians under the name
of Pillan), it would seem as though Epunamun, with his Peruvian name
and probable likeness to Punchau, was also of northern origin, or
had been adopted by the Araucanians from the Aymara. Other inferior
deities were Meulen, a benevolent protector of the human race; and the
Guecubu, a malignant being, author of all evil, also known as Algue
or Aka-Kanet--at least, the similarity between him and the deities or
demons bearing these names is strong, although Aka-Kanet, throned in
the Pleiades, sends fruits and flowers to the earth, and is called
'Grandfather.' As Müller remarks: "Dualism is not very striking among
these tribes"; and again: "The good gods do more evil than good."[7]
Molina, who lived among the Araucanians for many years, says, speaking
of Guecubu: "From hence it appears that the doctrine of two adverse
principles, improperly called Manicheism, is very extensive, or, in
other words, is found to be established among almost all the barbarous
natives of both continents."[8] He goes on to compare the Guecubu
with the Persian Ahriman, and states that, according to the general
opinion of the Araucanians, he is the cause of all the misfortunes
that occur. If a horse tires, it is because the Guecubu has ridden
him. If the earth trembles, it is because the Guecubu has given it a
shock; nor does anyone die who is not suffocated by the Guecubu. The
name is spelt 'Huecuvu' by Falkner in his _Description of Patagonia_,
and is translated as 'the wanderer without,' an evil demon, hostile
to humanity, who lurks outside the encampment or on the outskirts of
any human habitation for the express purpose of working malignant
mischief upon unwary tribesmen--a very familiar figure to the student
of anthropology and folklore.

It is not clear to which of their gods the Araucanians gave the credit
for the creation of all things, and it is probable that they imagined
that one or other of the totemic beings from whom they were supposed
to be descended had fashioned the universe. They had, however, a very
clear tradition of a deluge, from which they were saved by a great hill
called Theg-Theg, 'the Thunderer,' with three peaks, and possessing
the property of moving upon the waters. Whenever an earthquake
threatens they fly to any hill shaped like the traditional Theg-Theg,
believing that it will save them in this cataclysm as it did in the
last, and that its only inconvenience is that it approaches too near
the sun. To avoid being scorched, says Molina, they always kept ready
wooden bowls to act as parasols.

The _ulmenes_ or lesser spirits of the celestial hierarchy of the
Araucanians, are the _gen_ ('lords'), who have the charge of created
things, and who, with the benevolent Meulen, attempt to stem the power
of the Guecubu. They are of both sexes, the females being designated
_amei-malghen_, or spiritual nymphs, who are pure and lead an existence
of chastity, propagation being unknown in the Araucanian spiritual
world. These beings, especially the females, perform for men the
offices of familiar spirits, and all Araucanians believe that they
have one of these minor deities or angels in their service. "_Nien cat
gni amehi-malghen_" ("I still keep my guardian spirit") is a common
expression when they succeed in any undertaking. These minor deities
remind us forcibly of the totemic familiars who are adopted by the
members of many North American Indian tribes at puberty, and appear
to them in dreams and hypnotic trances to warn them concerning future
events; and it is probable that the _gen_ and _amei-malghen_ are the
remnants of a totemic system.

The likeness between things spiritual and things material is carried
still further by the Araucanians; for, as their earthly _ulmenes_
have no right to impose any contribution or service upon the common
people, so they deny to supernatural beings worship or gifts. Thus
no outward homage is ordinarily paid to them. There is probably no
parallel to this lack of worship in the case of a people possessing
clearly defined religious ideas and conceptions of supernatural beings.
"They possess neither temples nor idols, nor are they in the habit of
offering any sacrifice except in some severe calamity, or on concluding
a peace."[9] Upon such occasions the offerings were usually animals
and tobacco, the latter being burned as incense and supposed to be
peculiarly agreeable to their gods. This custom recalls that of the
North American Indian peoples, with whom the Araucanians exhibit some
points of resemblance in the ceremonial use of tobacco, such as blowing
the smoke to the four cardinal points, as a sacrifice to the god of
the elements, probably Pillan. On urgent occasions only were these
sacrificial rites employed, omen Pillan and Meulen chiefly were adored
and implored to assist their people. The absolute indifference of the
Araucanians to mere ritual was well exemplified by the manner in which
they ignored the elaborate ritualistic practices of the early Roman
Catholic missionaries, although they displayed no hostility to the new
creed, but tolerated its institution throughout their territories.

Although the Araucanians did not practise any rites, they were not
behind other American aboriginal peoples in superstition. They were
firm believers in divination, and paid marked attention to favourable
or unfavourable omens. Appearances in dreams, the songs and flight of
birds, and all the usual machinery of augury were pressed into the
service of their priests or diviners; and the savage who dreaded naught
on the field of battle would tremble violently at the mere sight of an

The priests, or rather diviners, were called by the Araucanians
_gligua_ or _dugol_, and were subdivided into _guenguenu, genpugnu_,
and _genpiru_, meaning respectively 'masters of the heavens,' 'of
epidemics,' and 'of insects or worms.' There was also a sect called
_calcu_, or 'sorcerers,' who dwelt in caves and were served by
_ivunches_, or 'man-animals,' to whom they taught their terrible arts.
The Araucanians believed that these wizards had the power to transform
themselves at night into nocturnal birds, to fly through the air, and
to shoot invisible arrows at their enemies, besides indulging in the
malicious mischief with which folklore credits the wizards of all
countries. Their priests proper they believed to possess numerous
familiars who were attached to them after death. Thus they resemble the
'magicians' of the Middle Ages. These priests were celibate, and led an
existence apart from the tribe, in some communities being garbed as
women. The tales told of their magical prowess lead us to believe that
they were either natural epileptics or ecstatics, or excited themselves
by drugs. The Araucanians also held that the knowledge of their real
personal names gave dangerous magic power over them.

They firmly believed in the immortality of the soul. They held that the
composition of man was twofold--the _anca_, or corruptible body, and
the _am_ or _pulli_, the soul, which they believed to be _ancanolu_
('incorporeal'), and _mugcalu_ ('eternal' or 'existing for ever'). So
thoroughly a matter of everyday allusion had these distinctions become
that they frequently made use of the word _anca_ in a metaphorical
sense, to denote a part, the half, or the subject of anything. They
differed about details of life after death. All held that after death
they would go west, beyond the sea--a conception of the soul's flight
held by many other American tribes. The west, the 'grave' of the sun,
was supposed also to be the goal of man in the evening of his days--a
place where the tired soul might find rest.

"The old notion among us," said an old chief, "is that, when we die,
the spirit goes the way the sun goes, to the west, and there joins
its family and friends who went before it."[10] The country to which
the Araucanians believed their dead went was called Gulcheman, 'the
dwelling of the men beyond the mountains.' The general conception
of this Otherworld was that it was divided into two parts, one
pleasant, and filled with everything that is delightful, the abode
of the good; and the other desolate and in want of everything, the
habitation of the wicked. Some of the Araucanians held, however,
that all indiscriminately enjoyed eternal pleasures, saying that
earthly behaviour had no effect upon the immortal state. The amount of
spirituality in their belief is shown by their funerary practices.

The relatives of the deceased person seated themselves round his
body and wept for a long time, afterward exposing it for a space
upon a raised bier, called _pilluay_, where it remained during the
night. During this time they watched over and 'waked' it, eating and
drinking with those who came to console them. This meeting was called
_curicahuin_, or the 'black entertainment,' as black was the symbolical
colour of mourning with them. About the second or third day the body
was laid to rest in the _eltum_, or family burying-ground. The _eltum_
was usually situated in a wood or on a hill, and the procession to it
was preceded by two young men on horseback, riding full speed. The bier
was carried by the nearest relatives of the deceased, and surrounded by
women who mourned and wept during the entire ceremony. On arrival at
the _eltum_ the corpse was laid on the ground and surrounded by arms
in the case of a man, or by feminine implements in that of a woman.
Provisions, _chica_ (native spirit), wine, and sometimes even a dead
horse were placed beside the deceased to serve him in the Otherworld.
The Pehuenches believed that the Otherworld was cold, and so sought to
warm the corpse with fire, after which they bound it to a horse, placed
the bridle in its hand, killed the steed, and buried both together in
the grave. The relatives and friends of the dead man then wished him
a prosperous journey, and covered the body with a pyramid or cairn of
stones, over which they poured large quantities of _chica_.

After they had departed, an old woman called Tempuleague came to the
grave in the shape of a whale, and transported the soul of the deceased
to the Otherworld. Probably the Araucanians of the Chilean coast were
acquainted with the spermaceti, or southern variety of whale, and
regarded it as the only method of locomotion for a spirit across the
great waters, or it is probable that they borrowed the conception from
the Peruvians of the coast, who regarded the sea as the most powerful
among the gods, and called it Mama-cocha or 'Mother Sea.' The whale was
a general object of worship all along the Peruvian coast, while each
of the Peruvian coastal districts worshipped the particular species of
fish that was taken there in the greatest abundance. This fish-worship
was not mere superstition, and it was very elaborate, the fish-ancestor
of each variety or 'tribe' of fish holding a special place in the
heavens in the form of a constellation. The Collao tribes to the south,
on the shores of Lake Titicaca, some fifty miles or so from the
Chilean frontier, also worshipped a fish-god; so that in all likelihood
the fish-goddess of the Araucanians was originally borrowed from
the Collao, who were probably ethnologically akin to the Araucanian
tribes. This theory is confirmed by the nature of the fish-deity
worshipped by the Collao; its name was Copacahuana, 'valuable stone to
be looked upon,' the idol being carved from a bluish-green stone, with
the body of a fish surmounted by a rude human head. This deity, like
Tempuleague, was female.

The deceased, however, must pay a toll to another old woman, of
malicious character, for permission to pass a narrow strait on the
road; otherwise she would deprive him of an eye.

The life after death was very similar to earthly existence, but without
fatigue or satiety. Husbands had the same wives as on earth, but had no
children, as the Otherworld was inhabited by the spirits of the dead

Certain vestiges of sun- and moon-worship were known among some tribes,
who called the sun Anti, and the moon Kayan; but recognition of these
luminaries as deities was intermittent and probably seasonal.

[1] See p. 32.

[2] _Commerce of the Prairies_, vol. ii, p. 235.

[3] Heart, _Trans. Am. Phil. Soc._, vol. iii, p. 216.

[4] _Prehistoric Man_, vol. i, p. 276 (London, 1876).

[5] _Myths of the New World_, p. 101 (1896).

[6] _Abipones_, vol. ii, p. 101 (London, 1822).

[7] _Amer. Urreligionen_, pp. 265, 272 (Basel, 1855).

[8] _History of Chile_, vol. ii, p. 85 (1809).

[9] Molina, _op. cit._, vol. ii, p. 87.

[10] Hawkins, _Sketch of the Creek Country_, p. 80 (Savannah, 1848).



    ABALL, Celtic term for apple, 95
    Abella, city of Campania, 95
    Accadian concept of the abyss, 34-35; sun myth, 155
    Adjacent method in mythology, the, 83
    Adonis represents revival of vegetation, 135
    Aeracura, Celtic deity, 294
    Æacus, son of Zeus and Ægina, 206
    _Æneid_, Servius's commentary on the, 78
    Ængus, Irish deity, 295
    Æolus, Greek wind-god, 133
    Ætiological (explanatory) myth, 15 _n_.; story of Orestes an, 79;
       Jevons on, 86-87; Marett on, 89
    African myth, Lang on, 71; ideas of future life, 216
    After-life, ideas of, 195 _et seq._
    Agamedes, builder of Apollo's palace, 121
    Agave, mother of Pentheus, 243
    Agni, Hindu fire-god, 52, 130, 131, 256, 259; birth of, 160
    Agricultural gods, 113, 128-129
    Ahriman, Persian evil principle, 169; Molina on, 310
    Ahts Indians, beast myth of, 145; creation myth of, 147;
       fire-stealing myth of, 149; flood myth of, 153
    Ai and Edda, dwarfs in Norse myth, 262
    Aimon Kondi, deity of Arawak Indians, 139, 179
    Ainu (Japan), soul myth of, 152
    A-Kikuyus, myth to account for customs and rites of, 157
    Alatnir, Slavonic magical instrument, 208
    Albiorix, Celtic (Gaulish) deity, 204
    Algonquin Indians, belief in destruction by fire, 139; myth of birth
       of gods of, 144; dualistic myths of, 145; dismemberment myth of, 146;
       creation myth of, 147, 177; culture myth of, 150; fire myth of, 152;
       belief in after-life of, 212
    _Algonquin Legends of New England_, Leland's, 271
    Allatu, Queen of Assyrian Hades, 201-202, 288
    'All-Father,' gods and sky-gods; 74 _n_.; Lang's theory
       of the, 67-71, 73-74
    Alligator as totem of Muskhogean Indians, 307
    Ama-terasu, Japanese sun-goddess, 120, 168, 260
    Amaethon, British deity, 296
    _Amei-malghen_, guardian spirits of Araucanian Indians, 311
    Amen, Egyptian god, 114
    America, anthropological theories applied to myth of, by Payne, 84;
       mound-building in, 305-306; sun-worship in, 305. _See also_
       Brazil, Mexico, South America, _etc._
    American Indians, North, myths of, 31; flint-gods of, 26 _et seq._;
       fire myths of, 139; myth of origin of man of, 143; place of reward of,
       153; star myth of, 156; creation myths of, 174-186; ideas of
       after-life among, 211-215; mythic writings of, 270
    Ancestor-worship, 104, 110-112
    Andaman Islanders, fire-stealing myth of, 149
    Andes, thunder-gods of, 122-123
    Animal worship in Egypt, 45
    Animatism, definition of, 22 _n._
    Animism, definitions, 17, 22, 52; Tylor on origin of, 23 _n_.; place
       in mythic development, 31; Tylor's theory regarding, 58-59; causes of,
       according to Spencer, 59-60; Lang's criticism upon theory of, 72-73;
       universal nature of early, 82; and the supernatural idea of water, 97;
       definite form of, developed in Egypt, 97; origin of, Elliot Smith's
       theory of the, 97; distinction between, and polytheism, 109; animistic
       conception of thunder, 122; and corn myth, 129-130
    Animistic myth, classes of, 23
    Anthropological school of mythology 51; its criticism of Müller's
       theories, 52-53; recognizes gender-termination as survival
       from animistic stage, 53; its position, 54-55; Tiele on, 65-66;
       'ignorant camp-followers' of, 66
    Anthropomorphism, 20, 110, 119, 125 _et seq._
    Anti, Araucanian sun-deity, 315
    _Antike Wald- und Feldkulte_, Mannhardt's, 53
    Antis Indians, dismemberment myth of, 146; culture myth of, 150;
       flood myth of, 153
    Anu, Babylonian deity, 166, 251, 288
    Anubis, Egyptian god, 285
    Apep, night-serpent in Egyptian myth, 99
    Aphrodite, mandrake cult of, 93; description of, 285
    Apollo, as fire, 41; apple cult of, 93, 94-95; as mistletoe, 95;
       origin of, 95; as sun-god, 119; solar myth of, 121; as wielder
       of lightning spear, 124, 127; as guardian of crops, 129; Homer
       on, 258; described, 283-284; Celtic gods equated with, 294;
       Bilé equated with, 296
    _Apo-ulmenes_, 309-310
    Apple-trees, cult of, 95
    Apsaras, Hindu nymphs, 291
    Apsu, Babylonian monster, 34, 166, 296
    Aqas Xenas Xena, American Indian myth of, 214
    _Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches of Italy_, Leland's, 236
    Araucanian (Chilean) Indians, 308 _et seq._; Peruvian
       influence upon myth of, 309-310; deluge myth of, 310-311;
       lack of worship among, 311; castes of priests among, 312;
       beliefs regarding the soul among, 313; place of the dead
       according to, 313; funeral practices of, 313-314
    Arawaks of Guiana, fire myth of, 139, 152; legend of world-tree
       among, 141; culture myth of, 150; flood myth of, 153; creation
       myth of, 177-179
    Arianrhod, British deity, 296
    Arician grove, cult of, 76; priest of, as incarnation of
       tree-spirit, 77. See also _Golden Bough_
    Aricoute, Tupi-Guarani hero, 183
    Arran, sacred stone of, 27
    Artemis, as moon, 41; mugwort cult of, 93; as moon-goddess, 127;
       Homer on, 258
    Arthur, King, as sun-hero, 122; his Round Table as the sun, 122
    Aruru, creatrix of Eabani in the Gilgamesh epic, 250
    _Ascent of Olympus, The_, Harris's, 93
    Aschochimi Indians, beast myth of, 145; flood myth of, 153
    Ashtaroth, or Astarte, compared with Venus, 285
    Askr and Embla, Norse Adam and Eve, 170
    Asshur, Assyrian god, 286; described, 288
    Assyrian Hades, 201-203
    Astrology and myth, 202
    Athapascan Indians, creation myth of, 147, 179;
       fire-stealing myth of, 149
    Athene, Homer on, 20, 258; the name, 47 _n._; as owl, 94;
       described, 284-285
    Atius Tirawa, Caddoan creative deity, 181
    Attys, vegetation god, 135
    Augustine, St, on myth, 43
    Aurora, Greek divinity, 50
    Australia, early isolation of, 36-37
    Australians (aboriginal), myth of moon of, 19; Lang on, 68; beast
       myth of, 145; dualistic myth, of, 146; myth of origin of man of,
       148; culture myth of, 150; taboo myth of, 150; death myth of,
       151; star myth of, 156
    Avaggdu, British deity, 296
    Aztecs, war-god of, 32, 298; fire myth of, 152; myth of place of
       reward of, 154; sun myth of, 155; moon myth of, 156; abode
       of dead of, 211; deities of, 299.
    _See also_ Mexicans


    BAAL, Bealltainn sacrifice believed to be to, 240
    Babylonians, creation myth of, 34-35, 146, 165-166, 173; dualistic
       myth of, 145; culture myth of, 149; deluge myth of, 153;
       place of punishment of, 154; myth of journey through
       Underworld of, 154; food of the dead myth of, 155;
       sun myth of, 155; moon myth of, 155; star myth of, 156,
       252-253; general description of myths of, 286
    Bacchus, connected with the earth, 134; Leland on invocation to, 237
    Bacon, Francis, his interpretation of myth, 45
    Bakairi Indians, star myth of, 140; and Orion, 141; creation-myth of, 182
    Balder, his journey to Hel, 196
    Balor, Celtic god, 294-295
    Banier, Abbé, historical treatment of myth, 45
    Bast, Egyptian goddess, 110
    Bat-god of Kakchiquel steals seeds of fire, 268
    Bealltainn, Scottish festival of, 240 _et seq._
    Beast myths, table of, 144
    Beelzebub, Syrian deity, 44
    Beetle as creative agency in Egypt and South America, 181, 183
    Bel in Gilgamesh epic, 253
    Belenos, Celtic (Gaulish) deity, 294
    Belial, 44
    Bellerophon, Hellenic sun-hero, 122
    Bel-Merodach, Babylonian god, 34; description of, 287-288
    Belus, supposititious connexion of, with Bealltainn festival, 241-242
    Beowulf, myth of, 121-122
    Berecyntia, goddess of Autun, 294
    Bhaga, Indian deity, 256
    Biblical narrative, how it colours myth, 37
    Biblical creation story, 167
    Bilé, British god, 242, 296
    Bird myths, 31-32
    Birth of gods myths, table of, 144
    Blood, natural food of spirits, 106
    Blue Jay, god of Chinook Indians, myths of, 31-32, 68, 301-302
    Boag, Johnny, legend of, 234
    Boat-language of Scottish fishers, 235
    Bohemian festival, return of summer, 136
    _Book of the Dead_, 246
    Boreas, Harris on, 95; as wind in Greek myth, 133
    Bornean ideas of after-life, 216-217
    Bororo Indians and Milky Way, 141
    Borvo, Celtic (Gaulish) god, 294
    "Bragaræthur," the, a portion of the Edda, 260
    Brahma, Hindu deity, 115, 256, 290-291; as creator, 160, 162;
       his mythological side, 291
    Brahmanas, savagery in, 20
    Bran, British deity, 296
    Brasseur de Bourbourg, Abbé, French translator of _Popol Vuh,_
    187-188, 290
    Brazilian Indians, earth myth of, 134; fire myth of, 139; moon
       myth of, 156
    Bres, Celtic god, 295
    Bretons, fire-stealing myth of, 149
    "Brewing of _Ægir_, The," Norse myth, 262
    Brigit, Irish goddess, 296
    Brinton, Professor D. G., his _Myths of the New World_, 190-191;
       mentioned by Leland, 270
    Britain, totems in, 28
    British gods, 296 _et seq._
    Brounger, myth of, 26; folk-song on, 27 _et seq._
    Browny, a goblin, 44
    Bryant, Jacob, his _Analysis of Ancient Mythology_, 46
    Buddhists, place of reward of, 153
    Bull-roarer, 19; gods evolved from, 24
    Buri, Norse primeval deity, 170
    Burnt-offerings to spirits, 106-107
    Burry Man, the, 135-137
    Bushmen, myth of Kwai Hemm among, 19; dismemberment myth
       among, 146; creation myth of, 147; myth of origin of man of,
       148; culture myth of, 150; death myth of, 151; star myth
       of, 156; moon myth of, 156
    Buyán, isle of, 208


    CABRAKAN, earth-giant in Kiche myth, 265 _et seq._
    Cadmus, Greek solar hero, 122
    Cahrocs, fire-stealing myth of, 149
    Californian Indian creation myths, 180
    Camulos, Celtic (Gaulish) tribal god, 294
    Carayas Indians, culture myth of, 150
    Caribs (Bakairi), their name for Earth-Mother, 134; name for
       Milky Way, 141; (of Guiana) star myth of, 142; (Antillean)
       beast myth of, 145; dismemberment myth of, 146; culture myth
       of, 150; flood myth of, 153; place of reward of, 154; place
       of punishment of, 154; creation myths of, 182
    Castor and Pollux, their human form, 156
    Caturix, Gaulish war-god, 294
    Celtic myth of origin of heroes, 149; culture myth, 150; place
       of reward, 153; place of punishment, 154; adventures in
       Underworld, 155; sun myth, 155; creation myth, 169, 194;
       Otherworld, 209-210; mythic system described generally, 294
       _et seq._
    Centeotl, Mexican maize-god, 134
    Central Africans, death myth of, 151
    Centzon Mimizcoa, Mexican name for the star-spirits, 211
    Cephalus as sun, 50
    Cerberus, dog guardian of Latin Hades, 44
    Ceremonies representing details of myths, 87
    Cherokee Indians, culture myth of, 150
    Chiapas Indians, culture myth of, 150
    Chicomecohuatl, Mexican maize-goddess, 299
    Childhood, conservatism of, 64
    _Childhood of Fiction_, Macculloch's, 222
    Chinese creation myth, 166-167, 193
    Chinook Indians, myths of, 31, 300-304; beast myth of, 145; myth of
       journey through Underworld of, 155; food of the dead myth of, 155;
       idea of after-life among, 213-214; mythic system of, 300-304
    Chippeway Indian belief in after-life, 212
    Choctaw Indians, myths of, 304; creation myth of, 306-307;
      Paradise of, 307; priests of, 308
    Cingalese, soul myth of, 152
    Cipactli animal in Mexican myth, 98
    Classification of myth, 138 _et seq._
    Codex Regius, MS. of the Edda, 261-262
    Coem, hero of Tupi-Guarani Indians, 183
    Comes, Natalis, his interpretation of myth, 45
    Compact with gods, 112-113, 117-118
    Comparative mythology, 47
    Comparative religion, 13
    Comparative tables of myths, 144-157
    Complementary process in folklore, 233
    Con or Cun, thunder-god of the Collao of Peru, 309, 310
    Conservatism of childhood, 64
    Cook, Professor A. B., 89
    Copacahuana, fish-goddess of Peruvians, 125-126, 315
    Corn-sheaf, rites connected with, 128
    Corn-spirit, 113-114; distinction between, and god, 128;
       abode of, 129-130; as ruler of Underworld, 218
    Cosmic egg in Japanese myth, 168
    Cosmogony generally, _see_ Chapter VI, pp. 158 _et seq.; also_
       Creation myths
    Cosmogonies, relationship of, 187-193
    'Covent Garden' school of mythology, 75
    Cox, Rev. Sir G. W., advocates universality of the sun myth, 50;
       on relationship of mythology to folklore, 223
    Coyote, evil principle in Maidu
    Indian creation myth, 180
    Creation myths generally, _see_ Chapter VI, pp. 158 _et seq_.;
       Babylonian, 34-35, 165-166; table of, 146-147; Egyptian, 163-165;
       Chinese, 166-167; Jewish, 167; Japanese, 168; Iranian, 169;
       Celtic, 169;  Norse, 170; Mexican, 171-172; Peruvian, 173; American
       Indian, 174-186;  South American, 177-179; relationship of, 187-193;
       conclusions on, 192-194; of the Choctaw Indians, 306-307
    _Creation Myths of Primitive America_, Curtin's, 174
    Creuzer, on religious nature of myth, 46
    Cronus, and savage element in Greek myth, 18; as principle of time, 41;
       deposed by his sons, 206; shares sovereignty of Elysium with
       Rhadamanthus, 207
    _Cult of Othin_, Chadwick's, 198
    _Cultes, mythes, et religions_, Reinach's, 85, 109
    Culture-heroes, 119
    Culture myths, 149-150
    Çupay, Peruvian lord of the dead, 212, 218
    Cupid and Psyche, myth of, 143
    Curtin, Jeremiah, his _Creation Myths of Primitive America_
       quoted, 174-177
    Custom, reasons for its adoption inspired by tradition, 96
    Customs or rites, myths of, classified, 157
    Cythrawl, Celtic evil principle, 169-170


    DAGDA, Irish deity, 295
    Dakota Indians, soul myth of, 212
    Dancing and myth, 238-239
    Danu, Celtic goddess, 295
    Darmesteter and meteorological myths, 51
    Dea Domnann, Celtic goddess, 295
    Dead, the, as gods, 42
    Death, myths of, 142, 150-151
    De Brosses, his explanation of myth, 45
    Delphi, Apolline garden at, 95
    Deluge myth, 36-37; classified, 153; Babylonian, 252-253;
       Araucanian, 310-311
    Demeter, myth of, 129-130, 288, 304
    Déné Indians--_see_ Tinneh
    Departmental gods, 116, 117, 118
    _De præstigiis dæmonum_, Wierus's, 232
    Deucalion, 178
    _Deutsche Mythologie_, 90
    _Deutsche Sagen_, Brothers Grimm's, 90
    Devetinus, a devil, 44
    Dharma, Indian god of duty, 256
    Diana, temple of, 78, 79; as moon-goddess, 127; Leland on, as
       goddess of old religion, 237
    Diana Nemorensis, priest of, 75
    Diancecht, Irish deity, 295
    _Dictionary of Mythology_, Spence's, 226
    Dindje Indians, dismemberment myth of, 146
    Dionysus, ivy cult of, 93, 94-95; and dismemberment myth, 143;
       the rites of, 242 _et seq._; Homer on, 258
    Dismemberment myths, 143; table of, 146
    Distribution of myths, 70
    Dragon, earth-, Great Mother evolved from, 98
    Dragon legend, Elliot Smith on, 97-98
    Dualism, 143-144
    Dualistic myths, table of, 145-146; in Tupi mythology, 184
    Duat, Egyptian Hades, 200-201
    _Du culte des dieux fétiches, ou parallèle de l'ancienne religion de
       l'Égypte avec la religion actuelle de Nigritie_, De Brosses's, 45
    Durga, Hindu goddess, 291
    Dyaus, Hindu Vedic deity, 289


    EA, Babylonian deity, 126, 287; creation of, 166; in myth of
       Ut-Napishtim, 253, 254
    Eabani, type of primitive man in Gilgamesh epic, 250 _et seq._
    Earth-gods, 133-135
    Earth-Mother, 133; evolved from earth-dragon, 98
    Eclectic system in mythology, rationality of, 115
    Eddas, the, 260-262; the Younger or Prose, 260; the Elder or Poetic, 261
    Editing of myth, Peruvian example of, 16; Babylonian instance of, 34-35
    Egg, cosmic, in Indian myth, 162; in Egyptian myth, 165
    Egyptians, Plutarch on gods of, 15; animal-worship of, 45; dualistic
       myth of, 145; dismemberment myth among, 146; culture myth of, 149;
       soul myth of, 152; flood myth of, 153; place of reward of, 153;
       place of punishment of, 154, 200-201; myth of journey through
       Underworld of, 154; sun myth of, 155; moon myth of, 155; star myth
       of, 156; creation myths of, 163-165, 193; Paradise of, 198-200;
       mythic writings of, 245-248; general description of myths of, 285-286
    Elf-arrow, 27
    Elixir of life, and dragon, 97; as human blood, 97
    Elysium, 206-207
    Enigohatgea (Bad Mind), in Iroquois myth, 191
    Enigorio (Good Mind), in Iroquois myth, 191
    En-lil, Babylonian thunder-god, 124; creation of, 166, 287
    Eos, as dawn, 50
    Epona, Celtic (Gaulish) horse-goddess, 294
    Eponymous animals, 125
    Epunamun, Araucanian deity, 309-310
    Esaugetuh Emissee, Choctaw creative deity, 306-307
    Eskimos, soul myth of, 152; star myth of, 156
    Ethical influences upon myth, 217-218
    Euhemerus, his system, 42
    Evolution of gods, 102 _et seq._; associated with conception of
       spirit, 102-104
    _Evolution of the Dragon, The_, Elliot Smith's, 96
    "Execration upon Vulcan," Jonson's, 280


    _Faerie Queene_, mythological references in Spenser's, 278
    Farnell, Lewis, his criticism of _The Golden Bough_, 81-83
    Father May, May Day character in Brie, 136
    Fauna, Latin rural deity, 135
    Faunus, Latin rural deity, 135
    Faust, Scottish, 228-233
    Fetish, definition of, 24 _et seq._; difference between god
       and, 25; development of, 104-108; air the element of, 106-107;
       work of, 108; sale of, 108; religious ideas connected with,
       lack force and permanence, 108; hunting, 116-117; sacrifice to, 116
    Fetishism, in Greece, 20; nature of, 24 _et seq._; and evolution
       of idea of god, 104, 107
    Fiji Islanders, death myth of, 151
    Finns, forest-god of, 76; dismemberment myth among, 146; creation myth
       of, 147; food of the dead myth of, 155
    Fire-gods, 130-131
    Fire myths, 139; preponderance of American examples in, 139;
       classification of, 152; myths of fire-stealing, 140, 149
    Fire-stick, 94
    Fisher beliefs of Scotland, 234
    Fish-gods of America, 314-315
    Fladdahuan (Hebrides), sacred stone in, 27
    Flint-gods, 26
    Flood myths, 36, 37; classified, 153; Babylonian, 252-253;
       Araucanian, 310-311
    Folklore, definition of, _12 et seq_.; and myth, 221 _et
       seq._; complementary process in, 233
    _Folklore as an Historical Science,_ Gomme's, 14 _n_.,
       15 _n_., 90, 221, 233
    Folk-tale, definition of, 12; appropriated by mythologists, 92;
       and history, 92; dependence of, upon custom and superstition, 93
    Fomorians, mythical Irish race of Titans, 294
    Food of the dead, 37; myths of, classified, 155; the eating of, 304
    Frazer, Sir J. G., definition of religion, 14; his _Golden Bough_,75;
       his method founded on that of Mannhardt, 75; his thesis, 75-77;
       criticism of, by Lang, 77-81
    Freya, Teutonic goddess, 262, 292
    Funeral practices of the Araucanian Indians, 313-314; of Pehuenche
       Indians, 314


    _GÆA_, Greek earth-goddess, 18, 134, 283
    Gallinomero (Californian) Indians, place of punishment of, 154
    Gandharvas, Hindu deities, 291
    Ganesa, Hindu god, 291
    Garnega, St, in _Sir John Rowll's Cursing_, 44
    Garog, in _Sir John Rowll's Cursing,_ 44
    Garonhia, Iroquois Indian deity, 305
    Garuda, Hindu deity, 256
    Gaul, gods of, 294
    Gayatri, Hindu deity, 256
    Gayomart, Persian Adam, 169
    Gehenna, Hebrew Hell, 203-206
    Gelfion, in Scandinavian myth, 260
    Gender-terminations, effect of, in beliefs regarding natural
       phenomena, 52; anthropological school regards, as early survivals, 53
    _German Myths_, Mannhardt's, 53
    Germany, myths of, 90
    _Ghastly Priest, The_, Lang's essay on, 75-81
    Gilgamesh epic, 248-255; astrological aspect of, 254-255
    Glooskap, central figure of New England Indian legends, 270 _et seq._
    God, idea of, not animistic, 72; conception of soul not essential to
       idea of, 72; original idea of, as 'magnified non-natural man,' 73-74;
       idea of, developed from deified king, 97
    Gods, in animal shape, 19; dialectical misunderstandings alter
       nomenclature of, 30; grouping of, into a pantheon, 30; alien,
       identified with national, 34; as elements, 41-42; developed
       from the dead, 42; graves of, 42; names of, no guide to their
       nature, 52; of vegetation, 75; totems attached to, 109; compact
       with the, 112-113; of the chase, later secondary position of, 113;
       agricultural, 113, 129; departmental, 116, 117, 118; of the sea, 125;
       idea of, as dwelling in the sky, 219
    _Gods of Egypt, The_, Budge's, 165 _n._
    Gog, in _Sir John Rowll's Cursing_, 44
    Goibnin, Celtic smith-god, 263, 295-296
    Golden bough of myth situated in the Arician grove, 76; Virgil
       on, 77-78; Servius on, 77-78;
    Virgil's idea of, equated by Lang with mystic sword of romance, 77, 81;
       human sacrifice and, 78, Proserpine and, 78; temple of, 78; what is
       the? 80-81
    _Golden Bough, The_, Frazer's, 75 _et seq._; criticism of,
       by Lewis Farnell, 81
    Gomme, Sir G. Laurence, on traditional narrative, 91; his standpoint,
       90-92; on folklore and myth, 221-222; on restoration of myth, 233-234
    Gorgon's head, Shelley's poem on, 279
    Govannon, Celtic smith-god, 263.
       _See also_ Goibniu
    Græco-Roman myth, 282-285
    Grannos, Celtic (Gaulish) god, 294
    Great Mother, cowrie-shell as, 99
    Greeks, mysteries of, 19; early religion of, 93; myth of birth _of_
       gods of, 144; beast myth among, 144-145; dualistic myth of, 145;
       dismemberment myth of, 146; creation myth of, 146; origin of man myth
       among, 148; myth of origin of heroes among, 149; fire-stealing myth
       of, 149; culture myth of, 150; taboo myth of, 150; death myth of, 151;
       soul myth of, 152; flood myth of, 153; place of reward of, 153; place
       of punishment of, 154, 206-207; myth of journey through Underworld
       of, 154; food of the dead myth among, 155; sun myth of, 155; moon
       myth of, 156; star myth of, 156; myth to account for rites among, 157;
       ideas of Elysian fields among, 207
    Green George, St George's Day character in Carinthia, 136
    Grimm, J. L. K., 90
    Grimm, W. K., 90
    Grubb, W. Barbrook, on Lengua Indian creation myth, 180-181
    Guaracy, Tupi Indian sun-god, 184
    Guatemalans, place of punishment of, 154
    Gucumatz in Kiche _Popol Vuh_, 265
    Guecubu, demon of Araucanians of Chile, 310
    Gulcheman, Araucanian Indian place of the dead, 313
    Gwion Bach, British god, 296
    Gwydion, British deity, 296
    Gylfi in Scandinavian myth, 260


    HADES, Greek, 206-207
    _Hahe_, Samoyede fetish, 105
    Haida, American Indian thunder-god, 123
    Hanuman, monkey king in Hindu myth, 289
    Hare or Hare-skin Indians--_see_ Tinneh
    Harog, Teutonic god or spirit, 45
    Harris, Dr Rendel, his view on myth, 93-95; Elliot Smith on views of, 96
    'Harrying of Hell,' myth of, 31
    Hartland, Sidney, his theories, 92-93
    Hathor, Egyptian goddess, 27
    "Hávamál" Norse mythological hook, 261
    Heaven, idea of, 195 _et seq._; localized in the sky, 218-219
    Hebrews, myth of origin of heroes of, 149; taboo myth of, 150;
       soul myth of, 152; fire myth of, 152; flood myth of, 153; creation
       myth of, 167; place of punishment of, 203-206
    Hecatæus of Miletus, his interpretation of myth, 42
    Hecate, infernal goddess, 278
    Heh, Egyptian sky-god, 165
    Hel, the Teutonic Hades, 196-197
    Hel, Teutonic goddess of death, 196, 197, 218
    Hell, idea of, 195 _et seq._; localized as beneath the
       earth, 219-220. _See also_ Places of punishment
    Hephæstus, as fire, 41, 130-131, 284
    Hera, Greek deity, as air, 41; mother of Hephæstus, 130;
    Homer on, 258; wife of Zeus, 283; described, 284
    Herman, G., explains myth by etymology, 48
    Hermes, Greek deity, 284
    Hermitten, Brazilian Indian hero-god, 183
    Hero myths, classified, 149. _See also_ Culture myths
    Herse, Greek deity, as the dew, 50
    Hindus, dualistic myths of, 145; creation myths of, 147; myth of
       origin of man among, 148; myths of origin of heroes among, 149;
       death myth of, 151; flood myth of, 153; sun myth of, 155; star
       myth of, 156, 159-160; gods of, 20, 289 _et seq._; mythical
       literature of 255 _et seq._
    History, its relation to myth, 15 _n._, 42, 58, 92
    _History of the Affairs of New Spain_, Sahagun's, 210, 264
    _History of the New World called America_, Payne's, 83, 84, 105
    Hiyeda No Ra Rae, reciter of Japanese myth and history, 259
    Homeric period, religion of, 258
    Horus, Egyptian god, 29-30, 122, 198-199; confused with Great
       Mother, 98; described, 286
    Hottentot beliefs, 71; dualistic myths, 145; death myth, 151
    Hun-Apu, Kiche god, adventures of, in _Popol Vuh_,265 _et seq._;
       overcomes giants, 266, 302
    Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hunapu, adventures of, in _Popol Vuh_, 266
       _et seq._
    Hunting gods, 116-117
    Hurakan, Kiche creative god, 172, 309; in _Popol Vuh_, 265
    Huron Indians, myth of the birth of gods among, 144; dualistic
       myth of, 145; myth of the origin of man of, 148; culture myth
       of, 150; death myth of, 151; moon myth of, 156; belief in
       after-life of, 212
    "Hymn to Proserpine," Swinburne's, mythical references in, 280


    IKANAM, Chinook creator, 301
    Ikenuwakcom, Indian thunder-god, 302
    _Iliad_, the, 20, 257-259
    Imagination, theory of the universal resemblance of human, 93
    Incas (Peru), dualistic myth of, 145; creation myth of, 147
    Indians of Nicaragua, their mode of sacrifice, 107
    Indra, Hindu god, myth of, 20; as a quail, 123; birth of, 160;
       mentioned, 130, 256, 289, 291
    Inniskea, Irish island, sacred stone of, 27
    Inspiration, value of, in mythic elucidation, 293
    _Introduction to Mythology and Folklore,_ Cox's, 50, 133
    _Introduction to the History of Religion,_ Jevons', 86
    Ioi, sister of Blue Jay, in Chinook myth, 301
    Ipurina Indians, their belief about Orion, 141
    Iranian creation myth, 169
    Irin Magé deity of Tupi-Guarani Indians, 139, 183
    Iris, Xenophanes on, 41
    Irish gods, 294 _et seq._; myths, 295 _et seq._
    Iron, spirits' dread of, 234-235
    Iroquois Indians, dualistic myth of, 146; creation myth
       of, 147, 179-180; myth of the Two Brothers of, 191;
       belief in after-life of, 212
    Ishtar and Tammuz, myth of, 251; described, 288
    Isis, Egyptian goddess, 129-130, 246, 286
    Italapas, coyote-god of the Chinook Indians, 301, 303
    Italy, modern magic in, 236-237
    Ivy, as sacred plant, 94-95
    Izanagi, Japanese creative god, 168
    Izanami, Japanese creative goddess, 168


    Jacy, Tupi Indian moon-god, 184
    Japanese, creation myth of, 147, 168, 194; culture myth of, 150;
       place of punishment of, 154; adventures in Underworld of, 155;
       mythic literature, 259-260
    Jevons, Dr F. B., on myths, 86; his _Introduction to the History of_
       _Religion_, 86
    Joskeha (White One), Huron Indian deity, 37, 191
    Jötunn, Norse giants alluded to in the "Völuspá," 261, 293
    "Journey of Skirnir, The," Norse mythic book, 261
    Juno, 80; as mother of Vulcan, 279
    Jupiter, myth of, as swan, 28; equated with Zeus and Tyr, 48;
       as thunder-deity, 124; Leland on invocation to, 237; in Shelley's
       _Prometheus Unbound_, 276; in Milton's _Paradise Lost_, 277;
       Spenser on, 278
    Jurupari, Brazilian Indian deity, 192


    KALI, Hindu goddess, variant of Durga, 291
    Kame, Carib Indian hero-god, 182
    Karaya Indians, star myth of, 140; their myth about Milky Way, 141;
       their myth about Orion, 141
    Karma, Hindu deity, 159
    Kartikeya, Hindu god, 256
    Karu, hero-god of the Mundruku Indians, 183
    Keri, hero-god of Bakairi (Carib) Indians, 182
    Keridwen, British goddess, 227, 296
    Khepera, Egyptian creative deity, 163; Osiris takes form of, 164
    Khnemu, creative acts of, 165
    Kiche Indians (Guatemala), creation myth of, 147, 172, 264-265; their
       myth of origin of man, 148; their myth of origin of heroes, 149,
       265-268; Underworld of, 212; mythical history of, 268 _et seq._
    _Kinder- und Hausmärchen_, Brothers Grimm's, 90
    King, as tree-spirit, 76
    _King of Tars, The_, English romance, mythical references in, 43
    Kingu, Babylonian monster, 35
    Klaatsch, Dr, on Australians, 37
    Kneph, Egyptian god, 298
    Kodoyanpe, Maidu Indian creation myth of, 180
    _Kojiki_, Japanese mythic book, 259
    Krimen, Tupi-Guarai Indian hero, 183
    Krishna, Hindu deity, cult of, 257
    Kuhn, and meteorological myths, 51
    Kuni-toko-tachi, Japanese god, 168
    Kuvera, Hindu deity, 256


    LADAKS of Tibet, place of punishment of, 154
    Laestrin, his interpretation of myths from nebular phenomena, 51
    Lafitau, his interpretation of Indian totems, 29; indicates savage
       element in myth, 45
    Lang, Andrew, on solar myth, 54; on Spencer's theories, 60; works
       of, 66 _et seq._; his position, 66; distrust of Müller's
       conclusions, 66; on 'disease of language,' 67; on the sacred and
       frivolous in religion, 67; his conception of myth, arguments
       against, 69; his general thesis, 69; his theory attached to
       evolutionary systems, 70; his three stages of myth, 70; his
       _Modern Mythology_,71-72; his anti-animistic hypothesis, 72-73;
       his _Making of Religion_, 72-74; his 'All-Father' theory and
       sky-gods, 74 _n_.; his criticism of Frazer's _Golden
       Bough_, 75-77
    Language and formation of myth, 56
    Lares, the, 237
    Latin earth-gods, 134
    Laurel as sacred plant, 94
    "Lay of Hoarbeard," Norse mythic book, 261-262
    Leda, Roman goddess, 28
    Legend, definition of, 12; Gomme's definition of, 90
    _Legend of Perseus, The_, Hartland's, 93
    Leland, C. G., his _Aradia_, 236-237; his _Kuloshap the
       Master_, 270-271
    Lengua Indians of South America, creation myth of, 180-181; ideas
       of the after-life among, 214-215
    Leto, mother of Apollo, as darkness, 121
    Life-index, the, 247 _n._
    Lightning spear, the, 124
    Lithuanian May Day festival, 136
    Little May Rose, Alsatian May Day character, 136
    Little Leaf Man, Thuringian May Day character, 136
    Llud Llaw Ereint, British deity, 295
    Loki, Scandinavian deity, 131, 292-293; as fire-god, 293
    Lox, Algonquin deity, 143
    Lug, Irish god, 295
    Lunar gods, 126-127; their qualities, 127; connexion with water, 127


    _Mabinogion_, Welsh mythical book, 262
    Macculloch, Dean, on folk-tale and myth, 222-223
    Macha, Irish war-goddess, 296
    McLennan, J. F., his writings on totemism, 59
    Madagascar, dismemberment myth of natives of, 146
    _Magic and Religion_, Lang's, 75
    Magic, in modern Italy, 236-237
    _Mahabharata_, the, 257
    Maire, Tupi-Guarani deity, 183
    Maize-gods of Mexico, 299
    _Making of Religion, The_, Lang's, 66, 71, 72
    Makonaima, Arawak creative god, 177-178
    Malays, soul myth of, 152
    Malsum the Wolf in North American Indian legend, 271-272
    Mama Allpa, Peruvian earth-goddess, 134
    Mama-cocha ('Mother Sea'), Peruvian goddess, 125, 314
    Mama Nono, Carib Earth-Mother, 134, 182
    Man, primitive, irrationality of, 17; his thirst for knowledge, 21;
       'magnified non-natural,' regarded as earliest type of god by
       Lang, 73-74; imagination of, 93; not an inventive animal, 96;
       myths of origin of, classified, 148; creation of, _see_
       Chapter VI, 158 _et seq._
    Manannan mac Lir, lord of Irish Hades, 263, 295
    Manawyddan, British deity, 263, 295
    Mandan Sioux Indians, creation myth of, 182
    Mani, Polynesian god, myth of, 142
    Mannhardt, his defection from the philological school, 53; his
       method, 54; Frazer's method founded on that of, 75; on vegetation
       spirits, 79
    Maoris, their myth of original man, 148
    Marett, Dr R. R., on myth as non-explanatory, 15 _n_.; on
       pre-animistic beliefs, 23 _et seq._; his _Threshold of
       Religion_, 88; on the 'religious' in animism and mythology, 88;
       on etiological myths, 89
    Marine deities, 125
    Maya, belief in destruction by fire among, 139; culture myth of, 150;
       fire myth of, 152
    Mars, as agricultural god, 124
    May-time ceremonies in Scotland, 248 _et seq._
    Medico-religious practice, 300
    Medieval mythology, 43
    Melanesians, their myth of origin of man, 148; culture myth of, 150
    Mercury, Roman deity, 32, 237, 294
    Merodach, Babylonian god, 167, 283, 288-289; as sun-god, 120;
       defeats Tiawath, 166; described, 286-287
    Metaphysics, savage, 21
    Meteorological school of mythology, 51
    Meulen, god of Araucanian Indians of Chile, 310, 312
    Mexicans, myths of birth of gods of, 144; creation myth of, 147;
       myth of the origin of heroes of, 149; culture myth of, 150; flood
       myth of, 153; place of punishment of, 154; star myth of, 156.
       _See also_ Aztecs
    Mexican myth, flint-gods in, 26 _et seq._; of Uitzilopochtli, 32;
       creation myths, 171-172; Heaven, 210-211; Hades, 211; sources
       of, 263-270; mythology described, 296 _et seq._
    Mexico, Payne on mythology of, 84; Mother-goddess in, 98;
       blood-sacrifice in, 113
    Michabo, Algonquin Indian creative god, 139, 177
    Mictecaciuatl, wife of Mictlantecutli, 211
    Mictlantecutli, lord of the Mexican Hades, 196, 211, 218 Milky Way,
       in South American myth, 141; as Slavonic path to Heaven, 209; as
       American Indian route to Paradise, 211-212
    Milton, mythology of, 44
    Minerva, 278; Ben Jonson mentions, 280; described, 284
    Minos, 206
    Mithra, Persian deity, 289
    Mitra, Hindu deity, 289
    Mixcoatl, Mexican god, 124
    Mjolnir, hammer of Thor, 294
    _Modern Mythology_, Lang's, 66, 71
    Mohammed confused with gods, 43
    Mohammedans, soul myth of, 152
    Monan, deity of Tupi-Guarani Indians, attempts destruction of
       world, 139, 183
    Monotheism, causes of, 30
    Moon-gods, 126-127; their qualities, 127; connexion with water, 127;
       goddess, her connexion with fertility, 127; with love, 127;
       myths classified, 155-156
    Morrigan, Irish war-goddess, 296
    Mother-goddess in Mexico, 98
    Mound-building in America, 305-306
    Moxos Indians, star myth of, 140
    Müller, K. O., his view of mythic science, 46
    Müller, Professor Max, definition of religion, 14; on character of
       early thought, 21 _et seq._; his interpretation of myth, 47
       _et seq._; 50-51; applied methods of comparative philology
       to myth, 48; described myth as 'a disease of language,' 48; his
       critics, 4950; opposed by anthropological school, 52; his theory
       of effect of gender-terminations upon beliefs regarding natural
       phenomena, 52; Mannhardt on his theory, 53
    Mummification, theory of soul developed from, 79
    Mummu, Babylonian monster, 34-35, 166
    Mundruku Indians, creation myth of, 183
    Murri tribe, fire-stealing myth of, 149
    Muskhogean Indians, traditions of, 305
    Muyscas Indians, flood myth of, 153; moon myth of, 156
    Mysteries, Greek, 19
    Myth, definitions of, 11, 12 _et seq._, 87; regarded by some as
       religious in character, 13, 20, 63, 88; its inter-relation with
       comparative religion, 14 _et seq_.; elements of, 15 _n._;
       its relations with history, 15 _n.,_ 34, 42, 58, 90-91, 92;
       savage and irrational element in, 15, 16, 18 _et seq_.,
       45, 65, 67, 69-90; editing of, 16, 18, 33-35; and early science, 20;
       invention of, 21; development of, 30-31, 58; and spirit of sanctity,
       32-33; fusion in, 33; purgation of, 33; explanation of, lost, 34;
       antiquity of, 33-34; causes of its change, 33-34; classification
       of, 35 _et seq._; distribution of, 35-36; theory of origin of,
       in one centre, 36; fixity of, 38, 55-56; authenticity of, 39;
       Christian fathers on, 43; 'psychic' explanation of, 43; scientific
       treatment of, 46; its comprehension through language, 48, _and
       see_ Müller; as natural phenomena, 43; 'pragmatical' explanation
       of, 43; Müller's interpretation of, 50; personalism in, 56; among
       races of low culture, 56; and natural phenomena, 57; names in, 57-58;
       its regularity of development, 58; regarded by some as non-religious
       in character, 61, 68, 87, 92; and ritual, 61, 64, 89, 238; as
       primitive philosophy, 62; interpreted by allegory, renders ancient
       forms significant, 62; non-ethical nature of, 64; difference between,
       and religion, 68; early, not essentially absurd or blasphemous, 69;
       difference between dogma and, one of degree only, 69; arguments
       against Lang's conception of, 69; Lang's three stages of, 70;
       interpretations of, in accordance with contemporary ideas, 70;
       complexity of, 70; comparison of savage with 'civilized,' 71;
       stratification theory of, 81-82; survival of, due to grouping, 86;
       secondary, 90, 238; in early, animals take place of gods, 109; solar,
       its groundwork, 120; various classes of, 138; and folklore, connexion
       between, 234; written  sources of, 245 _et seq._; in English
       poetry, 275-281
    _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, Lang's, 66, 67, 83
    Mythic law, nature of, 30-31; resolution of materials of, into
       their original elements, 47; recapitulation of progress of science
       of, 100-101
    'Mythological habit' (interpretation of myth by one method), denounced
       by Mannhardt, 53
    _Mythologie et les fables expliquées par l'histoire, La_, Abbé
       Banier's, 45
    Mythology, function of, 11; and folklore contrasted, 12 _et seq._;
       definition of, 12 _et seq._; chronological sketch of, 40 _et
       seq._; in the eighteenth century, 45; symbolic method applied
       to, 46; comparative, 47; comparative philology and, 47 _et seq._;
       philological school of, 47-51; described by Müller as 'a disease
       of language,' 48; anthropological school of, 51; meteorological
       school of, 51; Spencer's system of, 59-60; takes the place of
       dogma in early religion, 61; exactitude essential to study of, 65;
       'Covent Garden' school of, 75; theory of non-religious nature of, 88;
       growth of moral and ethical characteristics in, 114-115
    _Mythology and Folklore_, Cox's, 223
    _Mythology of the Aryan Nations,_ Cox's, 50
    Myths, what they explain, 15; ætiological or explanatory, 21, 58, 89;
       animistic, 31; bird, 31-32; creation, 34-35; connexion between
       Old and New World, 36; deluge or flood, 56; resemblance between, not
       necessarily borrowed, 37; borrowing of, 37, 189-192; characteristics
       of primitive, 37-38; sophisticated, 37-38; method of gauging antiquity
       of, 38; process of interaction of, 38; thunder and lightning, 51;
       nature poetry in, 53-54; _solar_, 36; Lang on, 54; Tylor's
       general thesis regarding, 55; secondary, 62, 90, 238; diffusion of
       identical, 70; distribution of plots of, 70; dissemination of, 70, 97;
       details of, represented in ceremonies, 87; comparative tables
       of, 144-157


    NAGAS, Hindu mythical beings, 256
    Naman, Irish war-goddess, 296
    Namaquas, death myth of, 151
    Names, in myth, 57-58; Spencer's theory of, 60; Lang on philological
       analysis of, 71
    Narcissus, 45
    Natural phenomena in myth, 43, 57
    Navaho Indians, creation myth of, 147; fire-stealing myth of, 149;
       after-life of, 213
    Neevougi, sacred stone of Inniskea, 27
    Neith, Egyptian goddess, 127
    Nemi, priest of, 76
    Neptune, 126
    Nergal, Babylonian god of Netherworld, 254, 288
    Nét, Celtic war-god, 295
    Newhaven, myth of Brounger current in, 26
    _New System, or an Analysis of Ancient Mythology_, Bryant's, 46
    New Zealanders, fire-stealing myth of, 149; myth of death among, 151
    Nibelungs, the, 262
    Niflheim, 170, 197
    _Nihongi_, Japanese mythic book, 168, 260
    Ningphos (Bengal), taboo myth of, 150; death myth of, 151
    Nirig, Assyrian war-god, 287
    Nokomis, Algonquin Indian Earth-Mother, 134
    Normandy peasantry, fire-stealing myth of, 149
    Nuada of the Silver Hand, Irish deity, 295
    Nusku, Babylonian god, 288
    Nut, Egyptian sky-goddess, 165
    Nya, ruler of Slavonic Underworld,


    OAK, 'animistic repository of thunder,' 94
    Odin, Norse god, 45; as thunder-bird, 123; as wind-god, 132;
       in creation myth, 170; as Wild Huntsman, 197; sacrifices his
       eye for draught of water, 226; leads Æsir migration, 260;
       in the Eddas, 261; described, 292
    _Odyssey_, the, 257-259
    Ogma, Irish deity, 295
    Oki, Powhatan deity, 305
    Okulam, Chinook myth, 302
    Old Harry, spirit, 45
    Ops, Latin goddess of fertility or wealth, 134
    Oregon Indians, creation myth of,
    Orestes, his myth etiological, 79
    Orinoco tribe, culture myth of, 150
    Orion, different conceptions of, 140; constellations of, in South
       American myth, 141-142; Bakairi idea of, 182
    Orithyia, 95
    Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda), Persian creative deity, 169
    _Orpheus_, Reinach's, 85
    _Osiride et Iside_, Plutarch's, 246
    Osiris, 135, 218, 220, 246, 285; myth of, built up, 39;
       as corn-spirit, 113-114, 129-130; his development, 113-114;
       and dismemberment myth, 143; as Creator, 164
    Otherworld, Celtic, 209-210


    PACARI TAMPU, Peruvian myth of, 16
    Pachacamac, Peruvian thunder-god, 16, 173-174
    Pallas Athene, 20; according to Pragmatic, Psychic, and Stoic
       schools, 43; referred to by Milton, 278; Brigit compared with, 296
    Pampas Indians, belief in after-life, 212
    Pan, myth of, 132
    P'an Ku, Chinese creative deity, 167
    Pantheons, causes which modified, 30
    Papagos Indians, creation myth of, 147
    Paradise, 195 _et seq._
    Paraguayans, culture myth of, 150
    Passes of Brazil, belief about earth of, 134
    Patagonians, belief in after-life, 212
    Pawnee Indians, dismemberment myth of, 146; creation myth of, 147;
       myth to account for customs or rites of, 157
    Payne, E. J., his _History of the New World called America_, 84
    Pehuenche Indians of South America, 314; whale-goddess of, 314
    Pentecost Islanders, dualistic myth of, 146; death myth of, 151
    Pentheus, legend of, 243
    "Period of the Gods," a cycle of Japanese myths, 260
    Peroun, Slavonic god, 28
    Persephone, 114; myth of, 129-130, 206, 288, 304
    Persians, dualistic myth of, 145; creation myth of, 146; flood
       myth of, 153; place of reward of, 153
    Personality, theory of--_see_ Animism
    Peruda, Tupi god of generation, 184
    Peruvian Indians, their name for Earth-Mother, 134; belief in
       destruction by fire among, 139; myth of birth of gods among, 144;
       creation myth of, 147; their myth of origin of man, 148; their
       myth of origin of heroes, 149; culture myth of, 150; fire myth
       of, 152; flood myth of, 153; place of punishment of, 154; moon
       myth of, 156; star myth of, 156
    Peruvian myth, 16, 84; sun-god in, 119; Mama-cocha ('Mother Sea')
       in, 125, 314; Copacahuana (idol) in, 125; creation myth, 173-174;
       Paradise and Hell in, 212
    Pherecydes of Leros, his adjustment of myth to popular belief, 42
    Pherecydes of Syros, his treatise on myth, 41-42
    Philological school, the, 47-51; its sub-schools, 50; method of,
       criticized by Lang, 71
    Picumnus, 134
    Picus, Latin deity, 32, 117
    Pillan, Araucanian deity, 308-309, 312
    Pilumnus, Latin rural deity, 134
    Pirrhua Manca, Peruvian sun-god, 16
    Place of punishment, 195 _et seq._; myths of, classified, 154
    Place of reward, 195 _et seq._; myths of, classified, 153-154
    Plant cults, 93
    Pleiades, different conceptions of, 140, 141, 142, 156; Bakairi idea
       of, 182; Tupi-Guarani idea of, 184
    Plutarch, on Egyptian animal deities, 15; his pragmatical explanation
       of myth, 43; his writings on Egyptian myth, 246
    Pluto, ruler of Greek Hades, 45, 206, 218
    Podarge, white-footed wind, 133
    Poetry, English, myth in, 275-281
    Polynesians, dismemberment myth of, 146; myth of origin of man of, 148;
       death myth of, 151 olyonymy, factor in formation of myth, 48
    Polytheism, definition of, 29; strange gods readily adopted in a
       state of, 34
    Pomona, Latin goddess of fruit-trees, 135
    _Popol Vuh_, Kiche mythic book, 172, 187, 190; not influenced
       by Biblical ideas, 188-189; material of, 264; creation story
       in, 264-265; importance of, 269; English translation of, in
       _The Word_ by Guthrie, 270
    Porphyry on myth, 43
    Poseidon, Greek sea-god, 41, 126; as brother of Pluto, 206
    'Powers,' Marett's definition of, 24
    Prajapati, Indian creative deity, 160-161
    _Prehistoric Man_, Wilson's, 306 _n._
    Priests, Araucanian, 312
    _Primitive Culture_, Tylor's, 55-58
    _Primitive Marriage_, McLennan's, 59
    Prince, Professor, 271
    _Principles of Sociology_, Spencer's, 59
    Prithivi, Hindu Earth-Mother, 289
    Procris, as dew, 50
    Prodicus, his interpretation of myth, 42
    _Prolegomena zit einer wissenschäftlicher
    Mythologie_, Müller's, 46
    Prometheus, bird-form of, 123; as fire-stealer, 140; compared with
       Loki, 293
    _Prometheus Unbound_, Shelley's poem, 276
    Proserpine and golden bough, 78, 80, 81
    Proteus, Gwydion compared with, 296
    Ptah, Egyptian creative god, 115, 165, 285
    Pueblo Indians, belief in destruction by fire, 139
    Punchau Inca, Inca sun-god, 309
    Purusha, Indian deity, 159-160
    Pyrrha, 178


    QUEENSFERRY (Scotland), ceremony of Burry Man at, 135-137
    Quetzalcoatl, as agricultural god, 129; in creation myth, 171; as
       Mexican wind-god, 264-299
    Qui-oki, Nottoway god, 305


    RA, Egyptian solar deity, 114, 115; as creator in form of Khepera, 163;
    chief of Egyptian heaven, 199; described, 285
    Ragnorök, Norse day of doom, 261
    Raini, Mundruku creator, 183
    _Ramayana_, the, Hindu epic, 256 _et seq._
    Rama, 256
    Reinach, Salomon, his works, 84-85, 109
    Religion, definitions of, 14; pre-animistic, 23; sacred and frivolous
       in, 67; difference between myth and, 68; primitive, two great types
       of, 82
    _Religion of the Semites_, Robertson Smith's, 61, 83
    Religious sentiment, survival of, 70
    _Researches into the Early History of Mankind_, Tylor's, 55
    _Revue de l'histoire des religions,_ Tiele's, 65
    _Rex Nemorensis_ (King of the Wood), 79
    Rhadamanthus, one of the tribunal of the Greek Underworld, 206;
       ruler of Elysian Fields, 207
    Rhea, wife of Cronus, 18, 134, 276, 277
    "Rígsmál," Norse mythic book, 262
    _Rig-Veda_, Indian sacred book, creation myth in, 159-160
    Rites, myths of, classified, 157
    Ritual, and myth, 89, 238 _et seq.;_ movements, 239;
       in folk-belief, 239-240
    River Chaco Indians of South America, creation myth of, 183
    Romans, their myth of origin of heroes, 149; soul myth of, 152;
       fire myth of, 152; place of reward of, 153; moon myth of, 156
    Round Table, King Arthur's, as the sun, 122
    Rudra, Hindu deity, 132, 291; swallows universe, 163
    Rumanians, dismemberment myth of, 146
    Russians, dismemberment myth of, 146
    Rustem, as sun-hero, 122


    SABITU, Assyrian sea-goddess, 252, 254
    Sacred, idea of the, 33; sacred stones, 27
    Sahagun, Father Bernardino, Spanish historian of Mexico, 263-264
    Samoyede fetishes, 104-105
    _Satapatha Brahmana_, Hindu sacred book, creation myth
       in, 160 _et seq._
    Saturn, Milton on, 277; Keats on, 276-277
    Savage and civilized myths compared, 71-72
    Savage and irrational element in myth, 15, 16, 45, 51; Tiele
       on, 65; Lang on, 67
    Scandinavian creation myth, 170, 193-194
    Schelling, Friedrich, on myth and national development, 46
    Science, early, and myth, 20 _et seq._
    _Science of Fairy Tales_, Hartland's, 92
    _Science of Language_, Sayce's, 223
    Scotland, Faust legend variant in, 228-233; fisher beliefs of, 234;
       boat-language of fishers of, 235; taboo of animal names in, 235;
       May-time ceremonies in, 240 _et seq._
    Sea-gods, 125
    Secondary myth, 90; frequently arises out of ritual, 238
    Serpent, horned, in American myth, 307
    Servius, his allegorical interpretation of the golden bough, 78
    _Shaddai_, or _Shedi_ ('my demon'), early form of Yahweh, 74
    Shamans, of Chinooks, 303-304
    Shamash, Babylonian god, 250, 288
    Sheol, Hebrew Hades, 203-204
    Shesu-Heru, 198
    Shintoism in the _Kojiki_ and _Nihongi,_ 260
    _Shropshire Folklore_, Burne's, 226
    Shu, Egyptian god, 165; birth of, 163
    _Sidhe_ (fairy folk) in Irish myth, 295
    Siegfried, 122
    Sif, Norse goddess, wife of Thor, 294
    Sigfusson, Sæmund, Norse historian, 261
    Sigu, deity of Arawak Indians,
    Sigurd, as sun-hero, 122
    Sin, Scandinavian deity, 123
    Sin, Babylonian moon-god, 288
    _Sir John Rowll's Cursing_, mythological allusions in, 44-45
    Sita, Hindu goddess, 256
    Siva, Hindu deity, 291
    Skasa-it (Robin) in myths of Chinook Indians, 302
    Skrymir, Norse giant, 45
    Sky, Egyptian ideas regarding, 165
    Sky-god, and Lang's 'All-Father' deities, 74 _n_.; European, 89;
       Sky-Father, 133
    Slavonic place of the dead, 207-209
    Smith, Professor G. Elliot, theories of, 36-37. 95-100
    Smith, William Robertson, his theories regarding myth, 61-64;
       on the non-religious character of myth, 61
    Snorri Sturlason, Norse mythologist, 260
    Socrates, on the analysis of divine names, 42
    Solar myth, 36; Lang on, 54; its groundwork, 120-122
    'Solar' theory, its mythological merits, 120
    Solomon Islanders, death myth of, 151
    Soma, 256, 291
    "Song of Thrym, The," Norse mythic book, 262
    Soul, early beliefs about, 22 _et seq.;_ conception of, 59;
       conception of, not essential to idea of god, 72; myths of,
       classified, 151-152; search for, among the Chinooks, 303-304;
       belief regarding, among Araucanian Indians, 313
    South America, star myths of, 140-142; creation myths of, 177-179
    Southern Cross (constellation), in South American myth, 141;
       different conceptions of, 184
    Southern Indians, death myth of, 151
    Spencer, Herbert, his definition of religion, 14; his system of
       mythology, 59; refutation of his theories by Lang, 60
    Spirit, Tylor on, 59, 102; idea of, 102-104; distinction between,
       and god, 128; idea of, connected with wind or breath, 298
    Staden, Hans, on Tupi-Guarani beliefs, 183
    Star myths, 140-142; classified, 156
    Stars, personification of, 202
    Stratification of myth, theory of, 81-82
    _Studies in Ancient History_, McLennan's, 59
    Subterranean passage, legend of, 227-228
    Sun-gods, 118-122; in Peru, 119; later phases of, 119; in Egyptian
       mythology, 119-120; animistic and anthropomorphic ideas of, 120;
       myths classified, 155; worship in Mexico, 299-300; in America, 305
    Supernaturalism, Marett's definition of, 24
    Surya, Hindu deity, 289
    Susa-no-o, Japanese deity, 260
    Sym Skynar, 45
    _Symbolik und Mythologie_, Creuzer's, 46
    Synonymy, factor in formation of myth, 48


    TABOO, myths of, 143; myths of, classified, 150; of animal names
       in Scotland, 235
    Tacullies, creation myth of, 147
    _Taittiriya Brahmana_, Hindu sacred book, creation myth in, 160-161
    Tales, children and 'mis-telling' of, 38
    Taliesin, ancient British bard, 296
    Talmud, the, 204
    Tamandare, Tupi-Guarani hero, 183
    Tammuz, Babylonian deity, 251, 288
    Tangoroa, in Polynesian dismemberment myth, 143
    Tapio, forest-god of Finns, 76
    Tartarus, region in the Greek Hades, 206
    Tawiscara, (Dark One), Huron evil deity, 27, 37, 191
    Taylor, Thomas, his translation of Pausanias, 46
    Tefnut, Egyptian goddess, 163; birth of, 164
    Tempuleague, whale-goddess of the Pehuenche Indians, 314
    Tepeyollotl, Mexican god, 134
    Termagent or Tyr, Scandinavian deity, 43
    Test of recurrence in myth, 32, 47, 91; definition of, 39; Lang on, 71
    Tethra, lord of Celtic Underworld, 295
    Teutates, 294
    Teutonic mythology described, 292 _et seq._
    Teutons, dualistic myth of, 145; creation myth of, 147; culture myth
        of, 150; taboo myth of, 150; fire myth of, 152; flood myth of, 153;
        place of reward of, 153; place of punishment of, 154; creation
        stories among, 170; realm of woe of, 196; Valhalla of, 197; mythic
        writings of, 260-262
    Texts, comparative lateness of most traditional, 91
    Tezcatlipoca, Mexican deity, 74, 115, 133, 171, 264; as Lord of Night
    Wind, 132, 297-298
    Theagenes of Rhegium, 15; his criticism of myth, 41
    Theobiography, or life-history of gods, 63
    Thetis supplies Apollo with divine food, 121
    Thlinkeet Indians, thunder-god of, 123; myth of birth of god of, 144;
       beast myth of, 145; dualistic myth of, 146; fire-stealing myth
       of, 149
    Thoms, W. J., his definition of folklore, 223
    Thor, Norse deity, 123, 124, 262, 293-294
    Thoth, Egyptian deity, 115, 127, 285; commands creation, 165
    _Threshold of Religion_, Marett's, 23, 88
    Thunder and lightning, myths of, 51
    Thunder-gods, 122-124; Andean ideas of, 122; as birds, 123-124;
       their lightning spears, 123; connected with flint, 124;
       with rain, 124
    Thunderer, supernatural being of Chinook Indians, 301
    Tiawath, Babylonian monster, 34-35, 166, 167, 283, 287
    Tiele, Cornelius Petrus, his position, 65; on barbarous survivals, 65;
       on the anthropological school, 65-66
    Tien or Shang-ti, Chinese creative deity, 167
    Time, reckoning of, anciently regarded as a science, 126-127
    Tinneh or Déné Indians (Hare-skins), beast myths of, 145; creation
       myth of, 147; soul myth of, 152; flood myth of, 153
    Titans, Keats on, 277
    Tlaloc, Mexican water-god, 171, 299, 309; as ruler of terrestrial
       Paradise, 196, 210
    Tlazolteotl, Mexican goddess, 115
    Tobacco, ceremonial use of, among American tribes, 312
    Toci, Mexican Earth-Mother, 299
    Todas Indians, myth to account for custom or rites of, 157
    Tohil, deity of Kiche Indians, 26, 268
    Tollan, ancient Mexican city, 264
    Toltecs, culture myth of, 150
    Tonacaciuatl, Aztec creative goddess, 211
    Tonacatecutli, Aztec creative deity, 211
    Tonga Islanders, place of reward of, 154
    Tootah, thunder-bird of Vancouver Islanders, 123
    Torquemada, writer on Mexican myth, 264
    Toru-guenket, Tupi moon and principle of evil, 184
    Toru-shom-pek, Tupi sun and principle of good, 184
    Totemism, definitions of, 28-29; German ignorance of, 85
    Totems, British, 28; examples of, in myth, 28; allusion to, in
       antiquity, 29; Lafitau's interpretation of, 29; Jevons on, 86;
       development of, into gods, 108-110; animal attributes of, 109;
       distribution of, among tribal gods, 109; manner of determining, 109;
       causes which tend to humanize, 110; various methods of fusion of,
       with the god, 110
    Tradition, definition of, 11; use of the term, 13 _n_.; comparative
       lateness of written, 91; unequal method of recording, 91;
       interpretation of its testimony, 91; evidence of age in, 91;
       metamorphoses of, 91
    Transition from hunting to agricultural religion, 117
    _Tree of Life_, Crawley's, 14
    Tree-spirit, in cult of Arician grove, 76; represented by
       living person, 76
    Triduana, St, legend of, 224-227
    Trophonius, 121, 206
    Tsuki-yumi, Japanese moon-god, 168
    Tuatha de Danann (Children of Danu), Celtic deities, 220, 263, 294, 295
       _et seq._
    Tuonela, Finnish place of dead, 304
    Tupi-Guarani Indians, star myth of, 141; dualistic myth of, 146; fire
       myth of, 152; flood myth of, 153; creation myth of, 183-186
    Tutivillus, a fiend, 44
    Two Brothers, Egyptian story of, 247-248
    Tylor, Sir E. B., definition of religion, 14; his general thesis, 55-56;
       on language and formation of myth, 56-57; his animistic theory, 58-59
    Tyr, Norse deity equated with Jupiter and Zeus, 48
    Tzentals, creation myth of, 147
    Tzitzimime, Aztec demons, 211


    UAPÈS of Brazil, birth of gods myth of, 144, 191-192
    Uitzilopochtli, Mexican deity, 32, 264, 298-299; evolved from
       humming-bird, 32 _n_., 110; evolved  from bird totem, 117;
       as lightning, 123; serpent symbols of, 124; sacrifices to, 198
    _Ulmenes_, lesser spirits of Araucanian Indians, 311
    Underworld, myths of, classified, 154-155; man originates in, in
       American myth, 181-182
    Undry, cauldron of Dagda, a Celtic deity, 295
    Unseen, fear of, 103
    Upsala Codex, the, of Younger Edda, 261
    Uranus, first monarch of Olympus, 18, 53, 283
    Ut-Napishtim, myth of, 252-253


    "VAFPRÚTHNISMÅL," the, Norse mythic book, 261
    Valhalla, Norse Heaven, 197-198
    Varuna, Hindu god, 53, 130, 256, 289
    Vasus, 256
    Vayu, Hindu deity, 256, 289
    Vedas, Hindu sacred books, 255-256; savagery in, 20
    Veddah of Ceylon, fetishism among,106
    Vedde-Yakko, Cingalese fetish of chase, 106
    Vedic Hindus, wind-god of, 132; myth of birth of gods of, 144;
       fire-stealing myth of, 149; myth of place of reward of, 153
    Vegetation spirits, 79; rites, 135-137
    Venus, 237; as wife of Vulcan, 279; allusions to, in poetry of
       Swinburne, Lord de Tabley, and Ben Jonson, 280-281; associated
       with Ishtar, 288
    Vidhatri, Hindu god, 256
    Vine, sacred, 94-95
    Viracocha, Peruvian water-god, 16
    Virgil on the golden bough, 77-78
    Vishnu, Hindu deity, 256, 257, 290, 291
    _Vishnu Purana_, Hindu sacred book, creation myth in, 161-163
    Vivasvat, 256
    Volsungs, Teutonic mythical family, 262
    "Völuspá," the, Norse mythical book, 261
    Vukub-Cakix, 'the great Macaw' in Kiche myth, 172, 265 _et seq._
    Vulcan or Hephæstus, as god of fire, 131; referred to by Milton and
       Ben Jonson, 297


    WAÏNAMOÏNEN, Finnish deity, 304
    _Wallum-Olum_, mythic book of Lenapé Indians, 245
    _Wampum Record_, Algonquin book translated by Prince, 271
    Water, its connexion with moon, 127
    Wells, holy, 226
    Welsh Celts, mythic book of, 262-263
    West, as place of the dead, 219 and 313
    Westcar Papyrus, 246-247
    _Western Isles_, Martin's, 27
    Wind connected with spirit or life 298; gods of, 132-133
    Wiradthuri tribes, 157
    Wizard, 'scoring' a, 28
    Women's rites, 243-244
    World, creation of, _see_ Chapter VI, 158 _et seq._
    Wurm manuscript, of Younger Edda, 261


    XBALANQUE, hero-god of Kiche Indians, 265 _et seq._
    Xenophanes of Colophon, his criticism of myth, 40-41
    Xibalba, Hades of Kiches of Guatemala, 212-213, 266 _et seq._;
       ruled by secret society, 212-213
    Xilonen, Mexican maize-goddess, 299
    Ximenez, translator of _Popol Vuh_ into Spanish, 187, 270
    Xiuhtecutli, Mexican fire-god, 131, 171
    Xmucane, 172
    Xolotl, Mexican god, 172
    Xpiyacoc, Kiche primeval deity, 172


    YAHWEH, god of Hebrews, early form of, 74, 201-202
    Yama, 256
    Yesumaro, transcriber of Japanese myth, 259
    Yetl, thunder-bird (Athapascan), 123, 179
    Yibil, Babylonian fire-god, 131
    Ymir, Norse earth-giant, 170
    _Ynglinga Saga_, the, Norse mythic book, 261
    Yorkshire, soul myth in, 152
    Yuba Paik, deity of Choctaw Indians, 304
    Yurakare Indians, star myth of, 141


    ZEALAND, creation of island of, 260
    Zephyrs, as west wind, 133
    Zeus, Greek deity, birth of, 18; as principle of life, 41;
       equation of, with Jupiter and Tyr, 48; philological
       school and his name, 48, 53, 289; as woodpecker, 94;
       oak the dwelling-place of, 94; father of Apollo, as the
       sky, 121, 305; father of Hephæstus, 130; casts him from
       Olympus, 131; transforms the Pleiades into doves, 142;
       brother of Pluto, 206; as portrayed by Homer, 258;
       described, 283
    Zipacna, earth-giant in Kiche myth, 265 _et seq._
    Zootheism, 300,
    Zulus, creation myth of, 147; myth of origin of man of, 148;
       culture myth of, 150
    Zuñi Indiana, dismemberment myth of, 146; creation myths
       of, 147, 183; myth of origin of man of, 148

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Introduction to Mythology" ***

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 search system 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
means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.