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enters into conversation with his divine guide and preserver; and his questions and the replies of the deity form, in the Purana, the main substance of the compilation. The principal subjects are, as usual in these books, an account of the creation, the royal dynasties, the duties of the different orders, and various mythological legends.
The foregoing are but specimens of the traditions which are found among all nations respecting the great events of the primitive ages. The curious reader will find very much in the authorities cited, and others, that will well repay his researches into this subject. We ask now, in view of these facts, of the number of these traditions, their striking resemblances both to the Bible narrative and to each other, with just those differences that show independent lines of descent from the beginning, how they can be explained but upon the supposition that they are reminiscences coming down from a period in the history of mankind when as yet they were an unbroken family. That they could have been derived by one nation from another, will be conceded, by all familiar with the history of these nations, to be impossible. That they should have sprung up spontaneously among peoples so wide apart in lineage, in abode, and in speech, no one will maintain. We regard them, as they have ever been regarded by scholars and historians, as among the most conclusive evidences both of the unity of the race and of the commencement of the separate existence of those peoples since the time of Noah.
THE ARGUMENT FROM MYTHOLOGY.
Mythology, its Nature. — All Myths founded in Fact. — Instances of the Origin of modern Myths. — Character of Greek Writers. — Specimens of their Mistakes respecting foreign Names and Personages. — I. All Mythologies had a common Origin. — The Roman and Greek. — The Egyptian. — The Phoenician.—The Chaldean. — The Hindu.—II. Thai Origin in the Bible Narrative of the Creation and the Flood. — Myths of the Creation. — Of the Antedi luvians. — of Noah. — Of the Ark. — Of the Dove. — of the Rainbow. — Of the eight Persons saved. — Of Noah's three Sons. — Results.
Mythology is a species of tradition which, among pagan nations, embraces the facts and principles of religion. It is true that there are secular myths,— legendary stories of individuals and tribes, — having no sacred import. Still, so active was the supposed participation of the gods in human affairs, that few of these fables are entirely destitute of allusions to them. Indeed, the whole theology of the ancient pagan world was essentially mythical; the names, characters, and actions of the gods, their relations to men, and the modes in which they were to be worshiped, were recounted by the poets and fabulists, and formed collectively that mass of traditions and writings which we call mythology.
It is apparent, then, that the field which mythology opens to us may afford important aid in the consideration of the question now in hand. Religious belief has the strongest hold upon the heart, and is transmitted with the greatest care from one generation to another. If all men have sprung from a common parentage, we ought to find, as we ascend the stream of history, traces of a similarity in faith and religious rites among them. Even though the primitive belief and worship of one God were early lost through that depravity of heart which the apostle Paul so graphically describes in the first chapter of Romans, still the idolatry which came in its place, having been derived from common sources in the traditions of the past, ought to show those evidences of the fact which will powerfully demonstrate the original unity of those who hold it.
It is important to observe that all myths, however absurd and incredible their form, were/bunded upon fact. Thus says C. O. Miiller: "It is quite clear that two distinct ingredients enter into mythology, viz., the statement of things done and things imagined. ... We always find a chain of
facts leading from history into mythology." * That is, some actual person existed, or was believed to have existed, or some event, real or supposed, took place, which formed, as it were, the nucleus of the tradition, round which, in the lapse of time, was gathered, under the influence of an active imagination, a mass of fictitious incident, until it finally reached its present form. I am aware that some have held a different theory as to the process of its growth, believing that some abstract idea, philosophical or ethical, was the germ, which created for itself a legend of personification and narrative for its expression. Thus says George: f "Mythus is the creation of a fact out of an idea." Professor Powell says, "A myth is a doctrine expressed in a narrative form; an abstract moral or spiritual truth, dramatized in action and personification, where the object is to enforce faith, not in the parable, but in the moral." J I think these definitions are quite wrong. I do not believe a myth, properly so called, ever originated in an idea, but exactly the reverse. There is first the fact, real or supposed; then a distortion of it through misapprehension, or an amplification of it for ornament or
* Introd. to a Scientific System of Mythology, p. 9.
t Mythus and Sage, quoted by Rawlinson Hist. So., p. 231.