he could watch the proceedings. After a full half-hour

 people involved | time:2023-11-30 02:39:10

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

he could watch the proceedings. After a full half-hour

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

he could watch the proceedings. After a full half-hour

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

he could watch the proceedings. After a full half-hour

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

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

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

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

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

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