Page images
PDF
EPUB

long exhibited at Aix as that of a dragon which had formerly devastated the neighbourhood. The fish or whale of Jonah is often represented in the Catacombs as a sort of draconic nondescript (see Smith and Cheetham, Christ. Antiq. Dragon), perhaps with the idea of symbolizing Christ's passage under and out of the power of hell and of death.

The wingless, footless, fish-like “ draco," the standard of the Dacians, recurs frequently on the column of Trajan. The Romans had adopted from the East, as an ensign for some cohorts, a dragon. Constantine replaced these, but perhaps not entirely, by his well-known Christian labarum. Sometimes, indeed (see Ducange, cit. Baron, ad an. 325, Gretzer de Cruce, t. iii. 1. i. c. 5), the stem of the cross pierces or rests upon a dragon. The old designation of the standard-bearer, Dragonarius, would seem, however, to have persisted, and passed to the cross-bearer in Christian and Papal times, or to the bearers of some dragon symbol still retained, and perhaps in this way originating the word dragoon. Draconari, says Angelo Rocca, were soldiers who accompanied the Pope. Dragons were undoubtedly borne in ecclesiastical processions in Rome and some other Churches (see Ducange-Martigny, Dict. Ant. Chret., and Durandus).

The word dragon, and with the word the idea of a winged saurian, replaced the earlier worm or serpent which we find in the most ancient Celtic and Teutonic literary remains, and was perhaps introduced into the northern countries coevally with Roman dominion. The Latin draco is from δράκων, from δέρκειν, to look, and is thought, like lind, worm (lint bright), to refer to the traditional piercing eyes of the mythical monster, or the fabled luminous carbuncle (see supra, note to. Parthenopex de Blois, p. 408) which did duty for them. Orm, snake, or worm, is found in the Icelandic Edda, dreki occurring but once ; the Greek or Latin word is found in Icelandic in the form dreki in the Sôlarliod, or Song of the Sun, a poem composed about the time of the introduction of Christianity. In Beowulf, a Saxon poem of the seventh or eighth century, draca and vyrm (worm or snake) are both used. The Celtic dragún is clearly derived from draco or dpákwv, and must also have reached Britain with other Latin influences. It is said to occur frequently in the Welsh triads, but the date of these is unascertained, and is placed by some as late as the thirteenth century. Dragon, says Mr. Skeat in his Dictionary, was common in Middle English in the sense of

[ocr errors]

standard. He quotes from Robert of Gloucester, “ Edmond ydyzt his standard . . . and hys dragon vp yset,” and refers to other passages. On p. 125, note, we have seen two instances-one in fable, the other in history—of the use of a dragon standard in Britain. The usual ensign of the Gauls was a boar, as abundant evidences, architectural and numismatic, show (Hucher, Les monnaies gauloises, etc.).

In the Chansons de Geste the dragon, doubtless as symbolic of the Evil One or heresy, is the Muhammedan standard:

De devant sei fait porter sun dragon
Et un ymagen Apolin le felun.

Chanson de Roland, st. 237, v. 2. and in Garin li Loherain, v. 27, 403 :

Le signors d'Aus qui porte le dragon. In the Four Sons of Aymon (see p. 343) the Dragon is merely the flag which surmounts the tent of Charlemagne's generalissimo, Roland.

To anyone who has thoughtfully examined the specimens of Celtic and Scandinavian metal-work and other ornamental productions, it will be pretty evident that these more uncultured art forms were not wholly supplanted by Christian traditions. The mixture of heathen and Christian ideas in the arts of design is only a parallel to the crude combination of pagan and ecclesiastical traditions in lay and legend. The diverse animal forms employed in the art of the twelfth century throughout Europe, are according to Lenoir (Architecture Monastique, ii. p. 170) of Northern origin. On the other hand the lacertine monsters so characteristic of Celtic art, as Westwood surmises (Palæographia Sacra, p.xi.), may have been brought to Ireland by Eastern missionaries, and were perhaps originally Egyptian ophites. Dr. Waagen, taking a contrary view (F. Eggers, Deutsches Kunstblatt, 1850, p. 84) considers these animal figures a creation of Celtic fancy, while Hildebrand supposed them borrowed from and correlated with contemporaneous Germanic ornamentation. O'Neill (The Fine Arts and Civilization of Ancient Ireland, p. 74) is inclined to look on the animal forms so plentifully employed in the illumination of Irish manuscripts as a heritage from a much earlier epoch and referable to heathen serpent worship, and Dr. Rock (Church of our Fathers, p. 78) is inclined to attribute to

66

[ocr errors]

them a symbolical application. See Sophus Müller (Thierorna. mentik, p. 16, etc.), who asserts that serpents or dragons (Schlangen) only appear in later Irish ornament.

The various triumphal arches erected by the Romans at Orange, Vienne, St. Remy, and elsewhere, are abundantly decorated with sculpture representing arrangements of Gaulish trophies and spoils, among which is frequently seen the boar standard, Together with these, are to be noticed the carnices or Gaulish trumpets slightly thickening towards their upper extremities, which terminate in an animal head, from which springs a crest extending for some distance down the tube. These objects are represented on various arches, notably those at Chavaillon and St. Remy, with veracious uniformity of design. It seems possible that this carnix might have suggested the attenuated dragons which characterize Celtic art.

With regard to the fabled luminous carbuncle set in the dragon's head, it is curious to note that the brain of vertebrates includes a blunt "process,” the pineal gland, which, unlike the rest of the brain, is hardened by a kind of chalky deposit.

Throughout the lacertilia it is much prolonged, and in some it ends externally in an eye with a well-marked lens and retina which lie just within an aperture of the skull known as the parietal foramen. Whether in lizards this is in any way an organ of vision is doubtful. The eye is covered by a scale very different, however, from the surrounding scales ; but even when this is sufficiently thin to be translucent, it is improbable the

eye is of any real service. The point of interest, however, is that structurally the eye is there, even if functionally it is valueless. In many forms lower than the vertebrates this median eye is met with, sometimes as the sole organ of vision throughout life, sometimes supplemented by paired eyes after passing from the embryonic to the adult state, and there are cases in which after the paired eyes are developed the median eye is lost. From the relatively large size of the parietal foramen in some of the huge fossil reptilia, there is little doubt they had effective

In living forms which have been studied this eye is always at the end of a prolongation of that part of the brain, which differing in length in other vertebrates, is the short and blunt pineal gland in man. In the language of embryologists man has either an undeveloped or a degenerate gland which elsewhere is developed into a Median eye with lens and retina, and the

median eyes.

essentials of what we call an ordinary eye. Whether this fact has any real connection with the old Greek and still existing Oriental traditions or not, can be only matter of conjecture. Possibly as regards the Brahminic trinity the successive incarnations of Vishnu may afford some clue. He may very reasonably be supposed when in the form of a reptile to have had a median eye, and as the traditions existed long before written history, it is impossible to trace how in oral handing down they became modified, and Brahm, Vishnu, and Sira became, as they often are, so confused. The Cyclopes, too, were not mortals. They had a god origin. Probably the tradition which we see spread from Greece to Japan had some common source in the far remote past.” See Saturday Review, No. 1633, p. 229, in reference to a lecture delivered by Mr. Baldwin Spencer at the Royal Institution. Respecting the luminosity of carbuncles, see note, infra, p. 473, and vol. ii. p. 22.

The Chinese have a dragon of the sea called Li; there is peculiar “go" and ferocity in their dragon rageur. They have, besides, the sacred celestial dragon, and the mountain dragon. The five-clawed dragon is the attribute of the imperial dynasty including the princes of first and second rank, the four-clawed of the princes of the third and fourth rank. The imperial Japanese dragon has three claws.

See Migne, Dictionnaire des Légendes, Superstitions, etc., art. Tarasque, F. Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, pp. 26, 66.

Round TABLE (p. 144). For particulars on the Round Table, see Obras Escogidas de Mich. Cervantes por Garcia d'Arieta, Paris, 1826, tom. ii. p. 344; Viardot, Trad. de Don Quixote, Paris, 1838,4 tom. i. p. 170; Owen, Cambr. Biogr., p. 14; Michel, Tristan, tom. ii. p. 184; Leroux de Lincy, Anal. du Brut., tom. ii. p. 162, etc. The Round Table was subsequently restored at Kenilworth by Earl Roger Mortimer for one hundred knights (see Notes to Drayton's “Heroic Epist. Morb. Isabel,” v. 53), and by Edward III. at Windsor for twenty-four knights (see Th. Walsingham, Hist. brevis Angliæ ab. Eduardo I. ad Hen. V., Lond., 1574, fol., p. 117; but the writer denies the existence of a previous one. See Dahlman, Forschungen, Bd. i. p. 249; Ferrario, tom. ii. p. 299, etc.). There is, or was till recently, a so-called Arthur's round table preserved at

Winchester. Le deuise, leggi ed armi de' Cavalieri della Tavola rotunda ; and Alamanni, preface to his edition of Girone il Cortesi, also Ulrich Fuerterer in his Cyclus vom Graal, ed. by v. Docen in the N. litt. Anz., 1808. “ The Auncient order, Societie and unite land noble of Prince Arthur and his knightly armory of the Round Table, Trans. and Coll. by R. Robinson,” London, 1583-4 (see Brydges, Bibliogr., o. t., vol. i. p. 125, etc.), is only a translation of the Devise des armes des Chevaliers de la Table ronde. Paris, 8.a., Lyon, 1590; Graesse, Lehrbuch, Bd. ii., Abth. iii. p. 149. See also Wiener Jahrbücher, etc., Bd. xxix. p. 85, where there is a reference to a round table of Theodoric.

King Arthur, in reference, doubtless, to his Round Table, was also adopted in some of the towns under the sway of the Teutonic order, as the patron of the convivial clubs of the upper classes. Witness the Artushof at Danzig, erected in 1370, consumed by fire at the close of the succeeding century, and rebuilt in 1552. There was an analogous club house also called Artushof at Thorn. King Arthur, curiously enough, figures side by side with Theodorić and Maximilian among the twenty-eight bronze statues of the House of Hapsburg at Innsbruck, and a design for another statue, preserved in manuscript in the Vienna Imperial Library, bears the description of Arthur as “Kunig zu Enngellandt und grave zu Habsburg" (King of England and Earl of Hapsburg). In the Summer Sessions Hall of the Danzig Town Council is à picture by Isaac von dem Blocke (1611), a dying father inculcating upon his sons the strength of unity—the father being represented as King Arthur.

m

MERLIN (p. 146). It has been too long the fashion to consider the names and personages, the essential incidents and legendary motives in the romances of the Round Table as exclusively Celtic, and this view is still upheld by such writers as Hersart de la Villemarqué, San Marte, Skene, and Glennie. Recently some authoritative voices have been raised against this extreme position, e.g., Zarncke, Holtzmann, Nash, Stephens, Wright, Arbois de Jubainville, though Liebrecht, Holland, Bartsch, Rénan, Quinet, Henri Martin, Carrière, maintain the Celtic view. Professor Vesselovsky thinks it probable that, on whatever soil Merlin was first associated with the Celtic legends of Arther, Uter-Pendragon,

« PreviousContinue »