Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 283mysteries of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, in Egypt; Atys and Cybele, in Phrygia; Ceres and Proserpine, at Eleusis; of Venus and Adonis, in Phenicia; of Bona Dea and Priapus, in Rome, are all susceptible of one explanation. They all set forth and illustrated, by solemn and impressive rites, and mystical symbols, the grand phenomenon of nature, especially as connected with the creation of things and the perpetuation of life. In all, it is worthy of remark, the SERPENT was more or less conspicuously introduced, and always as symbolical of the invigorating or active energy of nature, the Sun.
We have seen (in Chapter XX.) that in early Christian art Christ Jesus also was represented as a crucified Lamb. This crucified lamb is "the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world, and slain from the foundation of the world."[492:2] In other words, the crucified lamb typifies the crucified Sun, for the lamb was another symbol of the Sun, as we shall presently see.
We find, then, that the stories of the crucifixions of the different so-called Saviours of mankind all melt into one, and that they are allegorical, for "Saviour" was only a title of the Sun,[492:3] and his being put to death on the cross, signifies no more than the restriction of the power of the Sun in the winter quarter. With Justin Martyr, then, we can say:
"There exists not a people, whether Greek or barbarian, or any other race of men, by whatsoever appellation or manners they may be distinguished, however ignorant of arts or agriculture, whether they dwell under the tents, or wander [Pg 493]about in crowded wagons, among whom prayers are not offered up in the name of A Crucified Saviour[493:1] to the Father and creator of all things."[493:2]
9. "And many women were there beholding afar off."[493:3] The tender mother who had watched over him at his birth, and the fair maidens whom he has loved, will never forsake him. They yet remain with him, and while their tears drop on his feet, which they kiss, their voices cheer him in his last hour. In these we have the Dawn, who bore him, and the fair and beautiful lights which flush the Eastern sky as the Sun sinks or dies in the West.[493:4] Their tears are the tears of dew, such as Eôs weeps at the death of her child.
All the Sun-gods forsake their homes and virgin mothers, and wander through different countries doing marvellous things. Finally, at the end of their career, the mother, from whom they were parted long ago, is by their side to cheer them in their last hours.[493:5]
The ever-faithful women were to be found at the last scene in the life of Buddha. Kasyapa having found the departed master's feet soiled and wet, asked Nanda the cause of it. "He was told that a weeping woman had embraced Gautama's feet shortly before his death, and that her tears had fallen on his feet and left the marks on them."[493:6]
At the death of Hercules, Iole (the fair-haired Dawn) stands by his side, cheering him to the last. With her gentle hands she sought to soothe his pain, and with pitying words to cheer him in his woe. Then once more the face of Hercules flushed with a deep joy, and he said:
"Ah, Iole, brightest of maidens, thy voice shall cheer me as I sink down in the sleep of death. I saw and loved thee in the bright morning time, and now again thou hast come, in the evening, fair as the soft clouds which gather around the dying Sun."
The black mists were spreading over the sky, but still Hercules sought to gaze on the fair face of Iole, and to comfort her in her sorrow.
"Weep not, Iole," he said, "my toil is done, and now is the time for rest. I shall see thee again in the bright land which is never trodden by the feet of night."
The same story is related in the legend of Apollo. The Dawn, from whom he parted in the early part of his career, comes to his side at eventide, and again meets him when his journey on earth has well nigh come to an end.[494:1]
When the Lord Prometheus was crucified on Mt. Caucasus, his especially professed friend, Oceanus, the fisherman, as his name, Petræus, indicates,[494:2] being unable to prevail on him to make his peace with Jupiter, by throwing the cause of human redemption out of his hands,[494:3] "forsook him and fled." None remained to be witnesses of his dying agonies, but the chorus of ever amiable and ever-faithful women, which also bewailed and lamented him, but were unable to subdue his inflexible philanthropy.[494:4]
10. "There was darkness all over the land."[494:5] In the same manner ends the tale of the long toil and sorrows of other Sun-gods. The last scene exhibits a manifest return to the spirit of the solar myth. He must not die the common death of all men, for no disease or corruption can touch the body of the brilliant Sun. After a long struggle against the dark clouds who are arrayed against him, he is finally overcome, and dies. Blacker and blacker grow the evening shades, and finally "there is darkness on the face of the earth," and the din of its thunder clashes through the air.[494:6]
It is the picture of a sunset in wild confusion, of a sunset more awful, yet not more sad, than that which is seen in the last hours of many other Sun-gods.[494:7] It is the picture of the loneliness of the Sun, who sinks slowly down, with the ghastly hues of death upon his face, while none is nigh to cheer him save the ever-faithful women.
11. "He descended into hell."[494:8] This is the Sun's descent into the lower regions. It enters the sign Capricornus, or the Goat, and [Pg 495]the astronomical winter begins. The days have reached their shortest span, and the Sun has reached his extreme southern limit. The winter solstice reigns, and the Sun seems to stand still in his southern course. For three days and three nights he remains in hell—the lower regions.[495:1] In this respect