« PreviousContinue »
That the Roman mythology was essentially the same as the Greek is familiar to every classical scholar. The names of the gods were, indeed, for the most part, different; but their characters and histories were sufficiently alike to cause them to be recognized by the writers of both countries as substantially the same. I speak now of the chief deities only, for there were numerous local and subordinate divinities, both in Greece and Italy, who were not known elsewhere. Nor are we to understand that the Roman mythology, except partially, in later times, when intercourse between the two countries became frequent, was borrowed from the Greek. Rather, the two mythologies, like the two languages, were sisters, being each derived from a common source, in a period antecedent to the settlement of either country.
In like manner the Greek mythology, in its main elements, was the same as that of Egypt. The Grecian writers, from Herodotus down, represent that the names and characters of the principal gods and goddesses were derived from the East, mostly from Egypt. Herodotus (ii. 52) says this expressly, and Diodorus Siculus dwells upon it at great length. All that was peculiarly Grecian was the localizing and modifying of the names in the manner already described, with the invention of new fictions to cor
respond to those alterations. I think it a mistake, however, to affirm that the Greek mythology was derived from Egypt, and would prefer to say that both the Egyptian and the Grecian were originally from a common source, and owe to this their mutual resemblance to each other.
This resemblance, again, is found between the Egyptian, Phænician, and Chaldean or Babylonian systems. Bunsen expressly says, " All Egypt's roots are in Asia,” and he gives very conclusive examples of such derivation. The Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury of the West, and the Amun, Muntru, Athor, and Thoth of Egypt, are at Nineveh and Babylon, Bel-Merodach, Nergal, Ishtar, and Nebo.
And so in numerous other instances. There is some reason to think that the gods of the Assyrian and Babylonian mythologies, as deciphered from the cuneiform inscriptions, are nearer the common source from which all are derived, than any other.
In the Hindu mythology, we are met again by striking points of resemblance to those already mentioned. It is, says M. Müller, a "fact which can not be doubted, and which, if fully appreciated, will be felt to be pregnant with the most startling and the most instructive lessons of antiquity — the fact, I mean, that Zeus, the most sacred name in Greek mythology, is the same word as Dyaus, or Dyu
in Sanskrit, Jovis or Ju in Jupiter in Latin, Tiw in Anglo-Saxon (preserved in Tiwsdæg, Tuesday, the day of the Eddic god Tyr), Zio in old High German,” * and, he might have added, Ti in Chinese, and Teo in Mexican. And a writer in the Christian Examiner, f reviewing this work of Müller, remarks further, " As the Sanskrit has, in most cases, preserved its roots in a more primitive form than the other Aryan languages, so in the Rig Veda we find the same mythic phraseology as in Homer and Hesiod, but in a far more rudimentary and unintelligible condition. Zeus, Eros, Helena, Ouranos, and Cerberus reappear as Dyaus, Arusha, Sarameias, Sarama, Varuna, and Sawara; but instead of completely developed personalities, they are presented to us only as vague powers, with their nature and attributes dimly defined, and their relations to each other fluctuating, and often contradictory. There is no theogony, no mythologic system. The same pair of divinities appear now as father and daughter, now as brother and sister, now as husband and wife; now they entirely lose their personality, and become undifferentiated Forces. In the Vedas, the early significancy of myths has not faded, but continually recurs to the mind of the . * Science of Lang., second series, p. 444. † May, 1865, p. 380.
poet. In the Homeric poems, that significance is almost entirely lost sight of, and its influence upon the poet is an unconscious influence.”
I remark here, as before, that these resemblances do not prove that the Greeks derived their mythology from India. In the mass, and in details, it has very little in common with that of the latter country, although many of the names in them are etymologically the same. The most that I would claim is, that the elementary roots of the two systems were derived from a common source. Or, rather, those roots existed as a common stock among the remote ancestors of the two peoples before they separated in the primeval times, and when the separations took place, these elementary roots developed, in the different countries to which they were carried into the different systems subsequently found there.
II. The second part of our proposition is, that all the various systems of mythology existing among the ancient nations had their origin in the persons and events mentioned by Moses in the earliest chapters of Genesis.
The full exhibition of this fact would require a volume, or rather many volumes. Of course only some hints of the argument can be given here. The reader is referred, for a detailed view, to Bryant's
Ancient Mythology, Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry, Kitto's Daily Bible Illustrations, vol. i., etc.
It is not meant, of course, that every particular of the vast mass of fable, poetry, and song, which constitute those mythologies, was derived from the source mentioned, but only their roots, or the primary and leading facts from which all the rest have been developed. Some of these primary facts are the following:
The creation of the world. According to Moses, the earth was originally without form and void” (Heb., emptiness and desolation), "and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The first thing formed was light, or the Day; then the firmament called Heaven; the dry land, Earth ; the collections of waters, Seas; next vegetable life, yielding seed and fruit; after that, the sun, moon, and stars. Now, all this, told in the Greek and Roman mythologies, is as follows:
First was Chaos, " the confused mass containing the elements of all things,” * who was the mother of Erebos and Nyx, i. e., Darkness and Night. These intermarrying, begat Æther and Hemera, the Air,
* Smith's Dici. of Biog. and Myth., which will be our author,ity in the subsequent statements, unless otherwise noticed. Where two names are given together, the first is Greek, and the second its Latin equivalent.