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An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 52

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


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