An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 43

[1] It follows that neither is this a sketch of the history of the science of folklore. The Greeks of Pausanias' day may have possessed the elements of a folklore. He flourished before the State recognition of Christianity, but Greek myth in his day was breaking down. In any case, such questions are foreign to our inquiry, which deals with myth as defined by us and with that alone. The great students of folklore are alluded to in this sketch for what they have written on myth, and for nothing else. The present condition of the science demands explicit statement in this respect, and this must be our excuse in making it.

[2] Iris, daughter of Thaumas and the ocean nymph Electra, was the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the Greek gods, especially of Zeus and Hera.

[3] Müller, A Scientific System of Mythology, 1838.

[4] Cow. A 'shelly-coat cow' was, in Scots parlance, a bogy. It is thought that the shells on such an animal are a reminiscence of the scale armour of the vikings, whose memory was a terror to the Scottish peasantry. To 'cow' is, of course, much the same as to 'bully.'

[5] Grimace.

[6] That is, "These shall surround the bier."

[7] Thus, according to Müller, the name Athene, unintelligible in its Greek form, at once becomes explicable when compared with the Sanskrit Ahana, 'the dawn.'

[8] His views will be found stated in Selected Essays and Lectures upon Language.

[9] See his Comparative Grammar, English translation by Eastwick (3rd ed.), 1862.

[10] See "The Lesson of Jupiter," Nineteenth Century for October 1885: "To understand the origin and meaning of the names of the Greek gods and to enter into the original intention of the fables told of each, we must take into account the collateral evidence supplied by Latin, German, Sanskrit, and Zend philology." See also Lectures on Language,2nd ser., p. 406.

[11] See his Nebelsagen (1879) and Das Räthsel der Sphinx (1889).

[12] Apart from its philological efforts, the work of Müller his disciples is of permanent value, and his critics undoubtedly did a disservice to mythological science when they condemned it root and branch. The training of no student of mythology can be complete if it lacks a consideration of Müller's works, which, of course, must be perused in the light of the comparative failure of his linguistic hypotheses.

[13] Lang in Ency. Brit., (11th ed.), art. "Mythology."

[14] Ibid.

[15] Modern Mythology, pp. 55, 63.

[16] Primitive Culture(London, 1871), p. 282.

[17] Primitive Culture(London, 1871), pp. 283, 284.

[18] Ibid., p. 284.

[19] Primitive Culture (London, 1871), p. 320.

[20] Primitive Culture(London, 1871), p. 320.

[21] Ibid., pp. 415, 416.

[22] This appears to the author a suitable term for those bodies of myth which deal exclusively with the lives and adventures of the gods, and differ therefore so strikingly from all other classes of myth.

[23] It seems to me that a small proportion only of myth as we know it can owe its origin to the intention of the males to conceal matters from the women and boys. Most written myth is certainly the work of priesthoods, and as it often accompanies ritual, the immobile character of the latter is a guarantee of its genuineness. Again, it frequently appears as pseudo-history, and could therefore scarcely be designed to screen anything more esoteric. The myths enacted in Hellenic mystery plays do not appear to have differed much in plot from the stories of popular acceptance, and the same may be said concerning those American myths which are danced out in the secrecy of male mystic societies.

[24] Extensive correspondence with students of myth has helped to convince me of the partial breakdown of Lang's argument.

[25] For example, on America, like Frazer, he bungles sadly, and seems to have betaken himself for information to the wrong authority in almost every instance, and especially when he desires to illustrate an argument.

[26] Lang's 'All-Father' deities forcibly suggest evolution from the old 'sky-god,' if, indeed, they were not that deity without much alteration. The 'Sky-Father' in opposition, or at least in contradistinction, to the 'Earth-Mother' was merely the sky personalized as a 'magnified non-natural man.' Let us enumerate his attributes, given by Lang in the Encyclopædia Britannica:

(1) His home is in the sky.
(2) He is the maker of things.
(3) Mankind are his disobedient progeny, whom he casts out of heaven.

This specification can allude to no type other than sky-gods, which are wholly 'animistic' in origin. If Lang had chanced to think of this resemblance himself, he would probably have been the first to admit the correctness of such a statement. His The Making of Religion bears proof of its obviousness on every page. The 'All-Father' idea certainly evolves from the personalization of the sky. He quotes the Zuñi Indian god Awonawilona as an 'All-Father'; Awonawilona is a Sky-Father pure and simple, as his myth shows; and practically all his other examples may be traced back in the same manner.

[27] Magic and Religion, pp. 207 sqq.

[28] See review by Lewis Farnell in the Quarterly Review for April 1915.

[29] The implication is frivolous and crude. I observe, as a specialist in Mexican mythology, that Sir James habitually and most unfortunately makes use of the wrong authorities to substantiate his claims when dealing with this province of tradition; but that a scholar of his standing would descend to such depths there is not a shadow of proof. The science of tradition at the present time is in much the same state as was that of chemistry in the hands of the medieval alchemists—i.e., a large degree of experiment must enter into its composition—and where all are beginners who dare cast the first stone, especially if it be against a man who has rendered such services to mythology and folklore as must be remembered with gratitude and even affection by all the workers in our common vineyard? Has he not taught us