Prof. Monier Williams says:

We have already seen, in Chap. IX., the identity of the Hindoo Matsaya and the Babylonian Dagon.

The fish was sacred among the Babylonians, Assyrians and Phenicians, as it is among the Romanists of to-day. It was sacred also to Venus, and the Romanists still eat it on the very day of the week which was called "Dies veneris," Venus' day; fish day.[354:3] It was an emblem of fecundity. The most ancient symbol of the productive power was a fish, and it is accordingly found to be the universal symbol upon many of the earliest coins.[354:4] Pythagoras and his followers did not eat fish. They were ascetics, and the eating of fish was supposed to tend to carnal desires. This ancient superstition is entertained by many even at the present day.

The fish was the earliest symbol of Christ Jesus. Fig. No. 33 is a design from the catacombs.[354:5] This cross-fish is not unlike the sacred monogram.

[Pg 355]

That the Christian Saviour should be called a fish may at first appear strange, but when the mythos is properly understood (as we shall endeavor to make it in Chap. XXXIX.), it will not appear so. The Rev. Dr. Geikie, in his "Life and Words of Christ," says that a fish stood for his name, from the significance of the Greek letters in the word that expresses the idea, and for this reason he was called a fish. But, we may ask, why was Buddha not only called Fo, or Po, but Dag-Po, which was literally the Fish Po, or Fish Buddha? The fish did not stand for his name. The idea that Jesus was called a fish because the Messiah is designated "Dag" in the Talmud, is also an unsatisfactory explanation.

Julius Africanus (an early Christian writer) says:

"Christ is the great Fish taken by the fish-hook of God, and whose flesh nourishes the whole world."[355:1]

"The fish fried
Was Christ that died,"

is an old couplet.[355:2]

Prosper Africanus calls Christ,

"The great fish who satisfied for himself the disciples on the shore, and offered himself as a fish to the whole world."[355:3]

The Serpent was also an emblem of Christ Jesus, or in other words, represented Christ, among some of the early Christians.

Moses set up a brazen serpent in the wilderness, and Christian divines have seen in this a type of Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Gospels sanction this; for it is written:

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up."

From this serpent, Tertullian asserts, the early sect of Christians called Ophites took their rise. Epiphanius says, that the "Ophites sprung out of the Nicolaitans and Gnostics, who were so called from the serpent, which they worshiped." "The Gnostics," he adds, "taught that the ruler of the world was of a dracontic form." The Ophites preserved live serpents in their sacred chest, and looked upon them as the mediator between them and God. Manes, in the third century, taught serpent worship in Asia Minor, under the name of Christianity, promulgating that

"Christ was an incarnation of the Great Serpent, who glided over the cradle of the Virgin Mary, when she was asleep, at the age of a year and a half."[355:4]

"The Gnostics," says Irenaeus, "represented the Mind (the Son, [Pg 356]the Wisdom) in the form of a serpent," and "the Ophites," says Epiphanius, "have a veneration for the serpent; they esteem him the same as Christ." "They even quote the Gospels," says Tertullian, "to prove that Christ was an imitation of the serpent."[356:1]