Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. XVIII.

On Events related by Tradition and prophane

Historians, which are evidently mutilated Accounts of Events recorded in the Scriptures.

· The earliest records of Pagan history, and the most reniote accounts obtained by tradition, though they often alledge an extravagant antiquity, do not when carried up to the regions of fable extend beyond the deluge, though they sometimes exhibit a corrupt statement of circumstances which occurred previously 10 that event, and which are transferred by them to later times.

Among the most remarkable events which took place after the flood, were the attempt to build Babel, the consequent confusion of tongues, and the dispersion of the inhabitants of the earth from the plains of Shinar.

Frequent allusions to each of these circumstances, and disfigured reports of them are to be found in various works.

The tales concerning Ochus and Ephialtes, who affected to dethrone the gods, with many others of a similar description, related or referred to by all writers from Homer to Ovid, may be regarded as mutilated accounts conveyed down by tradition, with respect to the fall of the angels, and the giants who lived in the earlier ages of the world *. · Bryant supposes the structure raised by the giants to have been a typhon or altar of stone.

The fiction in Homer of Xanthus (the horse of Achilles) having spoken and professed to have seen Apollo, is possibly taken from the circumstance mentioned of the ass of Balaam.

Vossius supposes Moses to have been the Bacchus of the Greeks, and many of the actions of Joshua and of Samson were ascribed to the Syrian Hercules-t, who is the original of the Grecian Hercules.

The memory of events, which occurred in ancient times, was frequently preserved in monuments erected on the very spots on which they happened, and these memorials

* Hom. Odyss. lib. i. 1. 306. Virg. Æneid. lib. vi. 1. 582. Origen Cont. Cels. Crenii Fascicul. Dissert. vol. 1. c. 2.

+ Vossius de Idolat. lib. i. b. 1. c. 26 and 88. p. 169.

[ocr errors]

gave celebrity to the erents, among those who emigrated from, or visited the countries in which they were preserved.

The erection of the stone, on which Jacob had rested, pouring oil upon it, and calling the place Bethel *, was kept in remembrance under the consecrated stones which the Phoenicians, from Bethel, called Baitúrus, and from this event probably was derived the Heathen custom of anointing stones, which were consecrated and worshipped in the superstition of antiquity, and upon which custoin the proverb was founded, “ worship every shining stone np.” The erection of stones as memorials of victories was very common

The memory of Joseph is supposed to have been preserved, in Egypt, under various circumstances, and particularly the Apis is thought to represent the kine which appeared to him in his dream. .

Pausanius relates tliat at the Battle of Marathon, the Athenians received assistance from a man who appeared in a rustic form

[ocr errors]

. Gen. xxxv. 14, 15. Euseb. prap. lib. i. c. 10.

+ Scaliger not. It. Gr. Bochart Can. lib. ii. c. 2. Selden de Diis Syris. navla Hodor autupov mpoo xuver. Clem. Alex. Strom, lib. vii.

| Pausan. Attic. c. xxxii. p. 80.

and attire, who after having slain many of the Barbarians with a ploughshare, disappeared *, which relation may be thought to bear some resemblance to the account of Shamgar in the book of Judges ti

There are so many correspondent circumstances between the events of sacred and those of prophane history, that details of comparison have been pushed to a very fanciful and extravagant extent. He, says, Warburton, who does not discover that the story of Baucis and Philemon is taken from that or Lot, must be very blind I; though he that can discover the expedition of the Is raelites, from Egypt to Palestine, in the fable of the Argonauts, is certainly blessed with second sight.

The story of Sylla's having cut off the purple lock of Nisus, king of Megara, and given it to Minos, and by that means destroyed him and his kingdom ; that also recorded with relation to Cephissus f; and like. wise that of Hercules and Omphale were probably taken from the history of Samson. * Attic. c. xxxii. p. 79. + Ch. iii. v. 21. Maundrel's Travels, p. 149.

| See Bochart, Hiero, p. 1. lib ii. c. 14. M. Banier les Metamorphoses d'Ovid Explicat. de la Fable de Lot.

§ Pausan. Attic, xxxvii. p. 90.

OT

The fable of Aristæus receiving the bees froni a putrid ox, seems to have been derived from the account of Samson's finding honey in the lion.

Some consider the story of Niobe's chil. dren as borrowed from accounts with respect to the destruction of the children of Job; and the fable of Phaeton to have been grounded on the miracle of the standing still of the sun, spoken of in the book of Joshua.

The Stoics and Epicureans believed that the world should be finally destroyed by fire, and some countenance to this persuasion is to be derived from passages in sacred writ,

« PreviousContinue »