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Those who gained money by these images and ceremonies naturally encouraged the multiplication of them. To such an extent was this carried, that in Rome, fever, coughing, and sneezing, had each a separate deity.
They believed that departed human souls lingered around their former habitations and families, to protect them. They invoked them in time of domestic trouble, and offered sacrifices to appease them, when they thought they had been wronged, or were angry. They erected remarkable tombs, and at stated seasons repaired thither to offer prayers and oblations to the spirits of departed ancestors, whom they called Manes. The offerings generally consisted of flowers, fruit, wine, and incense; but sometimes animals were sacrificed, and even human beings. Religious rites, observed with regard to ancestors, are supposed to have introduced the worship of their spirits, under the name of Lares and Penates, household gods, protectors of home and hearthstone. Their images, made of silver, ivory, or wax, were worn about the neck, or kept in some safe, secluded corner of every house, and received the same oblations usually offered to the Manes. In process of time, altars and statues were erected to ancestors, as well as magnificent tombs, and every individual was at liberty to confer such honours on his progenitors. If a man had gained great victories, introduced useful inventions, or been distinguished for wisdom, the people naturally carried offerings to his altar, in token of gratitude. This was the beginning of Hero Worship, which prevailed very extensively in Greece and Rome. The old Hindoo idea concerning the ascending destiny of holy men, was transferred to brave men and national benefactors. Their souls, when released from the body, were supposed to become demigods, and to perform the office of mediators between mortals and the great deities. It was a common belief that they became stars. A comet that appeared soon after the death of Julius Cæsar was supposed to indicate his reception among the gods. The emperor Adrian named a new star for the beautiful Antinous, his deceased favourite, whose
soul he supposed had in that form taken its station in the heavens. An immortal father or mother was generally assigned to the men who became demigods. Esculapius, celebrated for his skill in medicine, was said to be the son of Apollo, from whom he derived the divine gift. The goddess Thetis gave birth to Achilles, renowned for military exploits. Hercules, who relieved the earth from many monsters and tyrants, was the son of Jupiter by a mortal mother. When his body was placed on the funeral pile, a cloud descended, on which he was carried up in a chariot to Olympus, amid peals of thunder. There he became a god, and married Hebe, goddess of immortal youth. His friends, being unable to find his bones or ashes, manifested gratitude to his memory by erecting an altar on the spot where the burning pile had stood.
In addition to gods and demigods, every department of the universe was filled with Spirits, whom Greeks called Demons, whether their offices were good or evil. The good were called Agatho-demons, and the bad Caco-demons.
“Thrice ten thousand holy demons rove
Ibis breathing world; the immortals sent from Jove.
Nine nymphs, called Muses, the favourite companions of Apollo, presided over music, dancing, poetry, and all the liberal arts. The god of Love delighted to spend his nights with them in dance and song. They are represented as daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne, goddess of Memory, because memory and creative intellect combine to produce the arts. Hesiod calls them:
“The thrice three sacred maids, whose minds are knit
In harmony, whose only thought is song.
Rejoicing in their beauteous voice, and song
In the same temple with the Muses were worshipped the Graces, likewise called Charities; three beautiful nymphs, presiding over gracious manners and all kindly offices. This united worship was an instructive custom, since cultivation of mind should always lead to moral graces.
There were countless genii to take care of hills, and streams, and flowers. Oreads frequented mountains, where they sat "listening to the talking streams below," sounding "sweet echoes to the huntsman's horn." Napeads pro tected valleys and shaded nooks. Dryads loved the groves, where the imaginative eye saw them dance in the bright play of sun and shadow. Ephydriads reclined near springs and fountains, lulled by the rippling waters. Naiads swam playfully in the rivers, and Nereids careered on the ocean billows.
Olympus, which early Greeks considered the loftiest mountain in the world, was believed to be the dwelling. place of the gods. Over its top there was supposed to be an opening into the metallic dome of heaven. In after times, when their ideas of the universe enlarged, they said divine beings dwelt in the exterior sphere of the heavens, revolving round the space which included the planets; and this residence above the firmament they called Olympus also.
The Hindoo idea of a subtile invisible body within the material body, reappeared in the descriptions of Greek poets. They represented the constitution of man as consisting of three principles : the soul, the invisible body, and the material body. The invisible body they called the ghost or shade, and considered it as the material portion of the soul. At death, the soul clothed in this subtile body went to enjoy paradise for a season, or suffer in hell till its sins were expiated. Then if the Judges of the Dead bad decreed it to exist again on earth, it returned and took a material body, more or less honourable, according to its sentence. But when the souls of heroes joined the gods, to return no more to earthly habitations, they parted with this subtile body, and it wandered in Elysium. Ulysses declares that he saw there the divine Hercules; “or rather his shade, for he himself was with the immortal gods, assisting at their festivals.” The paradise, which they called Elysian Fields, some supposed to be part of the lower world, some placed them in a middle zone of the air, some in the moon, and others in far-off isles of the ocean. There shone more glorious sun and stars than illuminate this world. The day was always serene, the air forever pure, and a soft celestial light clothed all things in transfigured beauty. Majestic groves, verdant meadows, and blooming gardens, varied the landscape. The river Eridanus flowed through winding banks fringed with laurel. On its borders lived heroes who had died for their country, priests who had led a pure life, artists who had embodied genuine beauty in their works, and poets who had never degraded their muse with subjects unworthy of Apollo. There each one renewed the pleasures in which he formerly delighted. Orpheus, in long white robes, made enrapturing music on his lyre, while others danced and sung. The husband rejoined his beloved wife; old friendships were renewed; the poet repeated his verses, and the charioteer managed his horses. Some poets, rather sensually inclined, describe luxurious feasts, and say nothing can be more mean than the entertainments in Tartarus. In a retired valley, through a dark grove, drowsily glided the sluggish stream of Lethe. When the time arrived for souls to return again to earth, they were presented with a cup of its waters, which made them forget all they had seen and heard.
The subterranean realm where Pluto ruled, was called by the Greeks Hades, and by the Romans Tartarus. It was a deep, dark, awful region, encircled by a river of fire, and surrounded by a triple wall. Here in the deepest pits were chained the proud Spirits called Titans, who rebelled against Jupiter. Here the condemned were scourged with snakes by the Furies; or were seated under a huge stone for ever ready to fall, wishing to move, but unable ; or hungry wolves gnawed the liver, which for ever grew again; or they were consumed with thirst, standing in water that constantly eluded their touch. Some souls wandered in vast forests between Tartarus and Elysium, not good enough for one, or bad enough for the other. Some were purified from their sins by exposure to searching winds, others by being submerged in deep waters, others by passing through intense fires. After a long period of probation and suffering, many of them gained the Elysian Fields. When they had enjoyed a period proportioned to their merits, they were sent back to earth to take mortal bodies again. A few of the purest and noblest ascended to the gods.
The dead were represented as being ferried across the dark river Acheron to the regions of Pluto, by the boatman Charon, for whom a small coin was placed under the tongue of the deceased. He refused to carry over those who had not received burial in this world; they were obliged to wander on the banks for a whole century. In allusion to this, Virgil says:
“There stood the ghosts, and stretched their hands and cried,
The shade of Patroclus thus spoke to Achilles in a dream:
“Thou sleep’st, Achilles ; and Patroclus, erst
These ideas originated in Egyptian customs; a fact which may be traced even in the names. On the banks of the Nile was a beautiful plain, surrounded by groves, and in