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a tradition of the country that in olden times there were giants in the environs of Mexico. I have seen there, when the Duke of Albuquerque was governor, some bones and teeth of a prodigious size; among others a tooth three inches across, and four inches long. The most intelligent people of the country suppose that the head must have measured no less than an ell in diameter.”
The peculiarities of animals are accounted for by myth. The bear is stump-tailed because the fox cheated him out of his tail; the brown marks on the haddock are the fingerprints of S. Peter; the crossbill twisted its beak in attempting to wrench the nails from the hands of Christ. In the " Popol Vuh" of the Quiches is the following story: Two demigods, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, began to clear the forest and cultivate the land. The beasts did not approve of this, and at night they replaced the trees and shrubs that had been removed. Hunahpu and Xbalanque next night secreted themselves behind the felled timber, and awaited the coming on of the beasts. First came the lion and tiger; they leaped over the trees. Then came the stag and rabbit; the demigods caught them by their tails, and the animals fled, leaving their caudal appendages behind them, and to this day these creatures are destitute of tails. Next to be caught was the rat, whom the brothers Hunahpu and Xbalanque put in their handkerchief; they held him over a fire and singed his tail, and squeezed him so tight that his eyes nearly started out of his head, and thus ever after the rat's tail is hairless, and its eyes protrude."
Mythology is the systematization of myths. All myths are not religious mytlıs, but no religion which has any hold on the affections and imaginations of men can be without
· Brasseur de Bourbourg: Popol Vuh, p. 125; Paris, 1861.
a mythology. The reduction of the floating beliefs and traditions to a system was the work of a later age, and then they were grouped into theogonies, cosmogonies, and eschatologies; that is, those relating to the gods, those relating to the origin of the world, and those relating to the fate of man and of the world. The change in the character of the gods from natural objects to physical forces, and then to moral governors, has been spoken of. During this progress, a number of myths which had been attached to divinities fell away and suffered brotomorphosis; that is, they were attributed to human historical personages. For many of the old stories told of the gods related how they had died, and when the incompatibility of mortality with divinity was perceived, the stories were associated with heroes, and thus formed a heroic cycle of mythology which has stamped itself on the great epic poems of the world. The mighty deeds of the gods became those of great warriors or benefactors of the race, but their divine origin was recognised by making them the offspring of deities. Among the Greeks, Helena, Achilles, Perseus, Danaë, Bellerophon, Herakles, &c.; among the Germans, Sigfried, Gunther, Hagen, Wieland, Kriemhild, and others; among the Kelts, Arthur, Uther, Pendragon, Merlin; the Indian heroes of the “ Mahâbhârata," the Persian heroes of the “Shah-nameh," the Scandinavian heroes of the “Edda;" the Finnish Wainamoinen, Ilmarinen, Lemikainen of the “Kalewala ;" the Esthonian sons of Kalew of the “ Kalewipoeg;" the Hunahpu and Xbalanque of the Quiche " Popol Vuh,” &c., are all ancient gods who have become heroes when the popular opinion forbade the gods to be mortal.
Euhemerus wrote a history of the gods, in which he pretended to prove, by the help of forged inscriptions, that
they had all been on earth and had been mortals whom men had deified. In like manner Snorro Sturlason set Odin down in his history, as the first king of the Norsemen; and Saxo Grammaticus has introduced the whole theogony of Scandinavian mythology into his pedigree of the Danish kings. The account of Ragnarok, the Twilight of the gods, passed from sacred eschatology into the domain of chivalrous romance; and in the verses of the Trouvères the defeat of Roncevaux recalls most of the features of the final crash of the universe described by the Scandinavian Vala.
Idolatry, the worship of a person or object-Forms assumed by idolatry :
1. Fetishism—The philosophy of Fetishism-Obligations owed by humanity to Fetishism-Defect in Fetishism ; 2. Symbolism-All expressions of ideas are symbolic-Symbolic writing-Symbolic gesture -Symbolic language-Obligations due to symbolism-Defect in symbolism ; 3. Ideolatry--Anthropomorphism.
OLATRY is the adoration (latpeia) of a presentation
(ciowdov), that presentation being either sensible or ideal. The formation of ciswla is a law of our nature. Every term we employ is taken from material images, and every
notion we form is moulded on sensible perceptions. If an idea be divested of every concretion, it ceases to be conceivable. Thought and language are alike finite, and it is impossible to build up ideas, except with materials already collected by our senses; and these the imagination breaks up, arranges, and pieces together anew. In the wildest play of fancy, every ingredient has at former times been taken up, either through the perception or through internal presentation, and the formation of the image is the-perhaps incongruous-fusion of material turned out of the storehouse of memory. We can imagine Pegasus, not because we have seen such a creature, but we have seen horses and also birds' wings, and these we combine ideally.
When we say,
Abstract ideas are merely idols less wooden than concrete ideas. The very terms made use of to denote those ideas farthest removed from sensible associations were once as picturesque and material as those expressive of concretions, but cultivated thought makes allowance for these deficiencies, strips them of their picturesqueness, and sublimates their materialism.
“Our mind,” says Boyle,“ makes us think and speak after the manner of true and positive beings of such things as are chimerical, and some of them negations and privations themselves, as death, ignorance, blindness, and the like."
“ Virtue is its own reward,” the whole phrase is intensely anthropomorphic; we give virtue personality, a power of action, and a sense of gratification.
The more abstract or general a term is, the less precise is the image mentally accompanying it. In the series, Animal, Man, Frenchman, Parisian, the idea becomes gradually more clear as the range is narrowed.
When the mind conceives an idea of God, that idea is an image more or less distinct proportionately to the personality with which the idea is invested. The idea of an impersonal God is inconceivable. One idea may be less personal than another idea, but that is all. The savage forms a grosser notion of the Deity than the European peasant, and the notion of the peasant is grosser than that of the philosopher. The difference is one of degree.
The Articles of the English Church forbid us to hold that God has parts and passions like ourselves; but if He is to be worshipped, every prayer must be a departure from this injunction. The Christian missionary differs from the heathen in this particular: his God is a mental image, and that of the heathen is a material image.