unsuited. The result may be imagined: he worked very hard

 people involved | time:2023-11-30 02:55:32

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

unsuited. The result may be imagined: he worked very hard

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

unsuited. The result may be imagined: he worked very hard

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

unsuited. The result may be imagined: he worked very hard

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

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

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

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

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

top: 57step on: 135