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Custom and Myth

Page: 43

(3) The figure of the mouse would be associated with the god, and used as a badge, or a kind of crest, or local mark, in places where the mouse has been a venerated animal. (4) Finally, myths would be told to account for the sacredness of a creature so undignified.

Let us take these considerations in their order:—

(1) If there were local mice tribes, deriving their name from the worshipful mouse, certain towns settled by these tribes would retain a reverence for mice.

In Chrysa, a town of the Troad, according to Heraclides Ponticus, mice were held sacred, the local name for mouse being σμινθος. Many places bore this mouse-name, according to Strabo. {108b} This is precisely what would have occurred had the Mouse totem, and the Mouse stock, been widely distributed. {108c} The Scholiast {109a} mentions Sminthus as a place in the Troad. Strabo speaks of two places deriving their name from Sminthus, or mouse, near the Sminthian temple, and others near Larissa. In Rhodes and Lindus, the mouse place-name recurs, ‘and in many other districts’ (Και αλλοθι δε πολλαχοθι). Strabo (x. 486) names Caressus, and Poeessa, in Ceos, among the other places which had Sminthian temples, and, presumably, were once centres of tribes named after the mouse.

Here, then, are a number of localities in which the Mouse Apollo


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