Curious Myths of the Middle Ages

Voorkant
Independently Published, 28 feb. 2021 - 96 pagina's
FROM the remotest period a rod has been regarded as the symbol of power and authority, andHoly Scripture employs it in the popular sense. Thus David speaks of "Thy rod and Thy staffcomforting me;" and Moses works his miracles before Pharaoh with the rod as emblem of Divinecommission. It was his rod which became a serpent, which turned the water of Egypt into blood, which opened the waves of the Red Sea and restored them to their former level, which "smote therock of stone so that the water gushed out abundantly." The rod of Aaron acted an oracular part inthe contest with the princes; laid up before the ark, it budded and brought forth almonds. In thisinstance we have it no longer as a symbol of authority, but as a means of divining the will of God.And as such it became liable to abuse; thus Hosea rebukes the chosen people for practising similardivinations. "My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them."[23]Long before this, Jacob had made a different use of rods, employing them as a charm to make hisfather-in-law's sheep bear pied and spotted lambs.We find rhabdomancy a popular form of divination among the Greeks, and also among theRomans. Cicero in his "De Officiis" alludes to it. "If all that is needful for our nourishment andsupport arrives to us by means of some divine rod, as people say, then each of us, free from all careand trouble, may give himself up to the exclusive pursuit of study and science."Probably it is to this rod that the allusion of Ennius, as the agent in discovering hidden treasures, quoted in the first book of his "De Divinatione," refers.According to Vetranius Maurus, Varro left a satire on the "Virgula divina," which has not beenpreserved. Tacitus tells us that the Germans practised some sort of divination by means of rods."For the purpose their method is simple. They cut a rod off some fruit-tree into bits, and afterhaving distinguished them by various marks, they cast them into a white cloth.... Then the priestthrice draws each piece, and explains the oracle according to the marks." Ammianus Marcellinussays that the Alains employed an osier rod.The fourteenth law of the Frisons ordered that the discovery of murders should be made by meansof divining rods used in Church. These rods should be laid before the altar, and on the sacred relics, after which God was to be supplicated to indicate the culprit. This was called the Lot of Rods, orTan-teen, the Rod of Ro

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