Page images
PDF
EPUB

Grimm too, when speaking of Wuotan, says 1: He resembles Apollon, inasmuch as from him proceed contagious diseases and their cure ; any severe illness is the stroke of God, and Apollon's arrows scatter pestilence. The Gauls also imagined that Apollon drove away disease (“ Apollinem morbos depellere,” Caes., B. G., 6, 17): and Wodan's magic alone can cure Balder's lame horse. The raven on the god's shoulder exactly fits Apollon, and still more plainly the circumstance that Odin invented the poetic art, and Saga is his divine daughter, just as the Greek Muses, though daughters of Zeus, are under Apollon's protection and in his train.'

Now what does all this mean? We must try to think it out clearly. It may mean that originally there was a common Aryan concept of a Somebody, sending diseases and curing diseases, represented with ravens on his shoulders, and as fond of poetry. Such a Somebody, however, could not assume any real personality without a name, and we are asked to believe that, whatever his original name may have been, that name was lost, and replaced afterwards by the name of Rudra in Sanskrit, of Wotan in German, and of Apollon in Greek. Unless we assume this, we lose all historical continuity, and our comparison becomes purely psychological, which it is not meant to be.

In an article on Wuotan, to which I have referred before, we read 2: Whatever common traits the three gods, Apollon, Wuotan, and Rudra offer, such as their medical knowledge, their relation to singing and poetry, their correspondence reveals itself most de

" Teutonic Mythology, vol. i. p. 149.
2 Kuhn's Zeitschrift, x. p. 272.

cidedly in the conception of their natural appearance. All the three gods are represented as wild and mighty figures, driving along with dishevelled hair in storms and clouds, and hurling their fatal arrows on the earth. In the Iliad XX. 39, Apollon is called åkepoekóuns, with unshorn hair. Like the night, he descends from the heights of Olympus, and sends from the fearful-sounding bow the deadly arrow among men and beasts. According to Kuhn's 1 plausible explanation his epithet Aočias, like Açó, the name of the daughter of Boreas, defines him as the god approaching in a thunderstorm athwart the air. Rudra is called in the Veda kapardin, with braided and knotted hair, or kshayadvira, man-destroying. He is not, as Leo supposes, the welkin beneath the blue dome of heaven, but the god of those destructive hurricanes which generally visit India several days before the setting in of the rainy season. Therefore the Indians implored him that his arrow, fatal to men and cows, might spare them. In the same way no one has failed to recognise in Wuotan, when rushing through the air at the head of the wild hunt, the god of snow and thunderstorms, however his ethical character may, even at the earliest time that we know, have obscured his physical elements. Rückert, it is true, supposes the conception of Wuotan as the god of snow and thunderstorm to be a later corruption, and discovers the elementary foundation of his character in the power residing in the higher regions of the welkin and likewise of the sun. As, however, the sun appears nowhere in the Veda as an

1 Kuhn's Zeitschrift, iii. p. 335. Fröhde (Bezzenberger, Beiträge, iii. 8) derives Loxias from the root laksh, to aim. I doubt whether this root exists outside Sanskrit, but Kuhn's etymology also is doubtful.

attribute of Rudra, but only of Siva, a later development of Rudra, it cannot have belonged either to the concept of that original god of whom Wuotan, Apollon, and Rudra are supposed to be only three different national representatives. What is common to all and helps to explain also their later ethical character, is their dark approach in the hurricane, and their weapon, fatal to men and beasts. Their original elementary character therefore can only have been the storm.'

Here we have a clear statement of the leading principles of the analogical school. We begin with an elementary concept which, of course, like every concept must have had a name. That name, however, may be lost, or, at all events, is not considered essential. The name changed after a time, or was replaced by new dialectic or national names. The character also of the deity was modified, yet in what such deities of different names and likewise of considerably modified characters share in common, we have a right to recognise their original elementary concept.

This method of studying mythology is both interesting and useful; and yet I cannot overcome a certain uncomfortable feeling whenever I try to follow it and apply it myself. It is a feeling similar to that which a numismatist has when he sorts a number of coins which by their material, their shape, and their weight indicate with sufficient clearness what they are, but which, by continued wear and tear, have lost every trace of their original image and superscription. If he is accustomed to coins, one small remnant of a single letter in a certain place will tell him that it is, say, a coin of Alexander, coined in India. Yet he will hesitate and wait, and put his coin aside for a while as of doubtful origin. But now let the name of Alexander appear, how different will his feelings be! It seems to me that there is the same difference between the determination of a myth with or without a name. Let the Haritas of the Veda be as different as possible from the Charites of the Greeks, yet as soon as we know their etymology, we know that they belong more closely together genealogically than even the Charites and the Horae.

It may be that my strong belief in the etymological origin of all human thought, and my life-long researches into the etymologies of mythological names, have made me rather prejudiced against what I call the analogical method. I see its usefulness as helping us to classify mythological characters under general categories, as von Hahn, for instance, has done with great success. It may also help us in supplying defective portions of one myth by reference to a cognate and better preserved myth. Sir G. W. Cox has often thrown some very bright light on a dark cluster of Aryan mythology by this method, and in several cases what he has achieved has served as a preparation for making us see the true genealogy of mythological names.

Myths agreeing in one and differing in other Names.

There is one class of legends which has not yet received all the attention which it deserves, and which supplies a very strong argument in favour of the Analogical School; I mean those in which one name is the same, while the other names are different.

Helena, for instance, is not only the cause of the Trojan war, after having been carried off by Paris,

but she is likewise the cause of another great war which the Dioskuroi waged against Athens, after Helena had been carried off by Theseus. Theseus had either himself carried off Helena from Sparta, or had asked his mother Æthra to keep her safe in Aphidnae for Idas and Lynkeus, the sons of Aphareus, who had got possession of her. Her brothers, the Dioskuroi, attacked Athens at the time when Menestheus was trying to make himself ruler of Athens during the absence of Theseus. Akademos betrayed the secret that Helena was kept at Aphidnae, the Dioskuroi took it, rescued Helena, and carried off Æthra, the mother of Theseus.

Here we see that the myth of Helena is the same, only that she is carried, not to Troy, but to Athens, and that she causes the destruction, not of Troy, but of Aphidnae. Her safe conveyance to Ægypt or to Leuke, under the escort of Hermes, represents a third journey of the same famous heroine 1.

Again, the capture of Troy is not ascribed to Achilles only. We read in the Iliad itself how in former times Herakles 2 had besieged and destroyed the city of Laomedon. When Laomedon, after promising to Herakles, as a reward for the deliverance of Hesione, the horses which he had received from Zeus, declined to fulfil his promise, Herakles with six vessels and a large number of companions besieged Ilion and destroyed it.

Services similar to those which Poseidon and Apollon had to render to Laomedon, and for which Laomedon declined to pay them their stipulated wages,

i See F. De Duhn, De Menelai Itinere Ægyptiaco. Bonnae, 1874. ? Il. V. 638 ; XIV. 250; XV. 25; XX. 144.

« PreviousContinue »