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

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Coronis, to conceal her pregnancy from her father, went to Epidaurus, where she was delivered of a son, whom she exposed on a mountain. Aristhenes, a goat-herd, going in search of a goat and a dog missing from his fold, discovered the child, whom he would have carried to his home, had he not, upon approaching to lift him from the earth, perceived his head encircled with fiery rays, which made him believe the child was divine. The voice of fame soon published the birth of a miraculous infant, upon which the people flocked from all quarters to behold this heaven-born child.[128:6]

Being honored as a god in Phenicia and Egypt, his worship passed into Greece and Rome.[128:7]

[Pg 129]

Simon the Samaritan, surnamed "Magus" or the "Magician," who was contemporary with Jesus, was believed to be a god. In Rome, where he performed wonderful miracles, he was honored as a god, and his picture placed among the gods.[129:1]

Justin Martyr, quoted by Eusebius, tells us that Simon Magus attained great honor among the Romans. That he was believed to be a god, and that he was worshiped as such. Between two bridges upon the River Tibris, was to be seen this inscription: "Simoni Deo Sancto," i. e. "To Simon the Holy God."[129:2]

It was customary with all the heroes of the northern nations (Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders), to speak of themselves as sprung from their supreme deity, Odin. The historians of those times, that is to say, the poets, never failed to bestow the same honor on all those whose praises they sang; and thus they multiplied the descendants of Odin as much as they found convenient. The first-begotten son of Odin was Thor, whom the Eddas call the most valiant of his sons. "Baldur the Good," the "Beneficent Saviour," was the son of the Supreme Odin and the goddess Frigga, whose worship was transferred to that of the Virgin Mary.[129:3]

In the mythological systems of America, a virgin-born god was not less clearly recognized than in those of the Old World. Among the savage tribes his origin and character were, for obvious reasons, much confused; but among the more advanced nations he occupied a well-defined position. Among the nations of Anahuac, he bore the name of Quetzalcoatle, and was regarded with the highest veneration.

For ages before the landing of Columbus on its shores, the inhabitants of ancient Mexico worshiped a "Saviour"—as they called him—(Quetzalcoatle) who was born of a pure virgin.[129:4] A messenger from heaven announced to his mother that she should bear a son without connection with man.[129:5] Lord Kingsborough tells us that the annunciation of the virgin Sochiquetzal, mother of Quetzalcoatle,—who was styled the "Queen of Heaven"[129:6]—was the subject of a Mexican hieroglyph.[129:7]

The embassador was sent from heaven to this virgin, who had two sisters, Tzochitlique and Conatlique. "These three being alone in the house, two of them, on perceiving the embassador from heaven, died of fright, Sochiquetzal remaining alive, to whom the [Pg 130]ambassador announced that it was the will of God that she should conceive a son."[130:1] She therefore, according to the prediction, "conceived a son, without connection with man, who was called Quetzalcoatle."[130:2]

Dr. Daniel Brinton, in his "Myths of the New World," says:

"The Central figure of Toltec mythology is Quetzalcoatle. Not an author on ancient Mexico, but has something to say about the glorious days when he ruled over the land. No one denies him to have been a god. He was born of a virgin in the land of Tula or Tlopallan."[130:3]

The Mayas of Yucatan had a virgin-born god, corresponding entirely with Quetzalcoatle, if he was not the same under a different name, a conjecture very well sustained by the evident relationship between the Mexican and Mayan mythologies. He was named Zama, and was the only-begotten son of their supreme god, Kinchahan.[130:4]

The Muyscas of Columbia had a similar hero-god. According to their traditionary history, he bore the name of Bochica. He was the incarnation of the Great Father, whose sovereignty and paternal care he emblematized.[130:5]

The inhabitants of Nicaragua called their principal god Thomathoyo; and said that he had a son, who came down to earth, whose name was Theotbilahe, and that he was their general instructor.[130:6]

We find a corresponding character in the traditionary history of Peru. The Sun—the god of the Peruvians—deploring their miserable condition, sent down his son, Manco Capac, to instruct them in religion, &c.[130:7]

We have also traces of a similar personage in the traditionary Votan of Guatemala; but our accounts concerning him are more vague than in the cases above mentioned.

We find this traditional character in countries and among tribes where we would be least apt to suspect its existence. In Brazil, besides the common belief in an age of violence, during which the world was destroyed by water, there is a tradition of a supernatural personage called Zome, whose history is similar, in some respects, to that of Quetzalcoatle.[130:8]

The semi-civilized agricultural tribes of Florida had like traditions. The Cherokees, in particular, had a priest and law-giver [Pg 131]essentially corresponding to Quetzalcoatle and Bochica. He was their great prophet, and bore the name of Wasi. "He told them what had been from the beginning of the world, and what would be, and gave the people in all things directions what to do. He appointed their feasts and fasts, and all the ceremonies of their religion, and enjoined upon them to obey his directions from generation to generation."[131:1]

Among the savage tribes the same notions prevailed. The Edues of the Californians taught that there was a supreme Creator, Niparaga, and that his son, Quaagagp, came down upon the earth and instructed the Indians in religion, &c. Finally, through hatred, the Indians killed him; but although dead, he is incorruptible and beautiful. To him they pay adoration, as the mediatory power between earth and the Supreme Niparaga.[131:2]

The Iroquois also had a beneficent being, uniting in himself the character of a god and man, who was called Tarengawagan. He imparted to them the knowledge of the laws of the Great Spirit, established their form of government, &c.[131:3]

Among the Algonquins, and particularly among the Ojibways and other remnants of that stock of the North-west, this intermediate great teacher (denominated, by Mr. Schoolcraft, in his "Notes of the Iroquois," "the great incarnation of the North-west") is fully recognized. He bears the name of Michabou, and is represented as the first-born son of a great celestial Manitou, or Spirit, by an earthly mother, and is esteemed the friend and protector of the human race.[131:4]

I think we can now say with M. Dupuis, that "the idea of a God, who came down on earth to save mankind, is neither new nor peculiar to the Christians," and with Cicero, the great Roman orator and philosopher, that "brave, famous or powerful men, after death, came to be gods, and they are the very ones whom we are accustomed to worship, pray to and venerate."