* and attractive, are not quite proof against the criticism of the

students of the laws of language. I was really surprised at • seeing how much progress has already been made in the in• terpretation of Greek myths. I had no doubt we were * working in the right direction, and from the several pillars • and arches that had been laid open by various diggers I felt * convinced that in comparative mythology we have discovered • a real crypt, underlying and supporting the temples and • statues of the ancient gods of the Aryan world. But I never • saw so clearly before that the main work is really finished.' It is impossible to look carefully into Mr. Cox's new and important work without feeling how thoroughly well merited is this tribute to his industry, learning, and literary power. In the · Manual of Mythology' the plan of the larger work is already sketched. It includes, besides a detailed notice of the classic deities and heroes, a brief review of Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Norse mythology, the assumed connexion of the whole with the mythological language of the Vedas being indicated throughout as well as specially expounded in separate chapters and paragraphs.

But since the appearance of the smaller work, Mr. Cox has evidently made a profound and careful study of the materials available for illustrating the mythology of the Aryan nations. And in the volumes before us he has given the result of his inquiries with the ease and clearness of an accomplished English writer, yet with the elaborate details, the exact learning, and copious references of a German scholar. · The Mythology of the Aryan Nations' is thus a monument of learned speculation and systematic research, highly creditable to our national scholarship. Englishmen have indeed been charged with neglecting the wide and interesting subject of mythology, which has recently awakened so much active inquiry on the Continent, and there is some ground for the reproach. Bryant's Mythology' still remains our most systematic work on the subject, while of living scholars Mr. Grote, in the first volume of his History, has given the most satisfactory general discussion of Greek polytheism that we possess. We have no native exposition of the whole subject embodying the fruitful results of continental learning during the last quarter of a century. Mr. Cox's work supplies to some extent at least what was wanting in this respect. He is familiar with the speculations and discoveries of the French school of orientalists, as well as with the more recent researches of Teutonic and Scandinavian scholars, and his work, both in design and execution, may well compare with

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the higher systematic treatises on the subject produced on the Continent. The chief blemish in point of execution is a considerable amount of repetition, the same illustrations occurring in different parts of the work, often more than once, and not unfrequently over and over again. But Mr. Cox apologises for this in the preface, and a certain amount of iteration is perhaps almost inseparable from his plan and general purpose. The work is in fact speculative and controversial as well as expository, the main object of the writer being to strengthen and extend the more advanced positions of the comparative mythologists.

In Mr. Cox's own view this design undoubtedly occupies a foremost place. His volumes are avowedly an elaborate contribution to the so-called science of comparative mythology. He was, as we have said, an early convert to Mr. Max Müller's views on this subject, and since his conversion he has advocated the claims of what may be called the Aryan theory with a kind of crusading zeal and earnestness which must inspire respect, even where it fails to produce conviction. The volumes before us are the matured result of his missionary labours on behalf of his favourite theory, and in justice to the author they must be looked at in the light of that theory. Mr. Cox, we feel sure, would not be satisfied with a mere tribute to his learning, industry, and literary ability, apart from some adequate recognition and discussion of the main positions he undertakes to defend. His book is a manifesto of novel and extreme views, which he claims to have established by an accumulation of convincing evidence. Throughout he challenges attention to these views, and maintains that by a careful induction of facts they are raised from the position of doubtful speculations into that of definite knowledge and exact science. We purpose examining this claim by reviewing briefly the Aryan theory of the comparative mythologists, both in itself and in some of its necessary applications and results. Mr. Cox's work offers a favourable opportunity for making such a review. Its very object is to collect and exhibit in a systematic shape all the available materials accumulated by comparative mythologists in support of their theory, and this is done for the first time in English. Mr. Max Müller, indeed, propounded the general theory with some special illustrations in his able and interesting Oxford essay fourteen years ago, and he has recurred to the subject repeatedly in his subsequent writings. But he has nowhere exhibited the new scheme of interpretation in a complete and extended form, or attempted to apply it systematically to the mythology of different Aryan nations as


Mr. Cox does. Mr. Cox moreover has extended the application of the theory from the mythology to the literature of the Arvan nations.

There is another advantage connected with Mr. Cox's completer exhibition of the whole subject. As he himself intimates, the detailed exposition of the main facts and arguments on which it rests, makes the theory independent-self-sufficient as it were. It stands on its own merits, and can be judged of according to the ordinary principles of evidence and proof. The estimation of the relevant evidence is thus no longer confined to comparative philologists. The real value of this evidence can be determined apart from any special or rarer linguistic acquirements. Whether the new principle of interpretation is valid, and how far it is legitimately applied, may be decided without a knowledge of Lettish or Russian, Norse or Celtic, Zend or Sanscrit. It professedly rests on a solid basis of facts and reason, and Mr. Cox is so confident in the strength of this position that he believes even the more extreme aspects and applications of the theory to be established by the amount of evidence which ‘not long hence will probably be regarded as excessive.'

What then is the theory of the comparative mythologists ? They hold that all Aryan myths are in the last resort mere descriptions of natural phenomena, especially those of the visible firmament, such as sunrise and sunset, dawn and dark, clouds and storm, and that they may be adequately explained by reference to these appearances. They further maintain that the descriptions of these phenomena, which form the groundwork of all subsequent mythologies, are found in the Vedic hymns. The growth and development of myths on this basis is held to be determined by the philological principles of synonymy and polyonomy, or, in other words, the giving many names to the same object, and calling different objects by the same name. In early stages of language, amongst a sensitive and quickwitted people, different names would, it is assumed, be given to the same object, according to the observer’s varied mood of mind, or shifting point of view. Thus the sun might be called from his appearance in the heavens bright, far-shining, golden; from his relative position in the planetary system, chief, head, lord of day, sovereign of the sky; from his influence, the dispeller of the dawn, the disperser of the dew, the fructifier, the healer, the consumer, the destroyer, and the like. Again, where so many names are given to a single object, some would almost of necessity be applicable to other objects as well, and thus be homonymes. In process of time one or two of the



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more characteristic names would remain attached to the object as its designation, while the exact reference of the less characteristic names applicable to other objects as well, would gradually be forgotten. But though their primitive meaning might in this way be obscured, the words themselves would not be wholly lost. They would still be retained, in a crystallised form, in phrases and metaphors descriptive of the physical phenomena in which they originated. These phrases or proverbial sayings are, according to the theory in question, the true

germ of all Aryan myths. In order that a genuine myth may arise, it is however laid down as essential that the primitive meaning of the leading word or words in these phrases should be at least partially forgotten. As long as Endymion was known to mean the sinking sun, and · Selene loves Endy• mion' was understood to mean the rising moon looks upon

and loves the declining sun,' no myth would arise. But as soon as the meaning of Endymion was forgotten, a narrative partially mythical might easily emerge; Endymion being now regarded as a beautiful youth sleeping in the Latmian cave, and in this way becoming the source and centre of new incidents. The stories of Čephalus and Procris, of Apollo and Daphne, again, are wholly mythical, the meaning and reference of both the leading names having been forgotten before these narratives assumed their present shape, and the physical phenomena they originally expressed thus altogether lost sight of. The evidence in support of this position is that such words as Daphne, Procris, and Endymion are no longer intelligible in classic Greek-cannot, that is, be etymologically resolved—while the cognate forms in Sanskrit mean respectively the dawn, the dew, and the setting sun. The assumption of the comparative mythologists is that we have in these facts a key to the rich, diversified, and animated creations of the Greek Pantheon. It is assumed that after the great outburst of articulate energy in the undivided Aryan race, which produced an unexampled wealth of synonymes, polyonymes, and homonymes, there came a period of dispersion and formation into separate communities, and that the mythopaic age in these communities was preceded by a complete forgetfulness of certain characteristic elements of the primitive speech. While the original meaning of many words applied to natural objects was forgotten the words themselves were retained in descriptive phrases and proverbial sayings, that formed part of the intellectual stock, were a kind of literary heritage, of the race. The early tribe, according to a well-known mental law, instinctively invested all physical objects with life and consciousness, and such

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phrases as Cephalus loves Procris,' • Procris is killed by

Cephalus,' meant simply the sun kisses the dew,' and the • dew is absorbed by the sun.' When, however, the original meaning of Cephalus and Procris was obscured, these names, it is assumed, would be first regarded as real persons, and then transformed into deities. Referring to the different steps in the assumed evolution of myths, Mr. Cox says:

“In these spontaneous utterances of thoughts awakened by outward phenomena, we have the source of the myths which must be regarded as primary. But it is obvious that such myths would be produced only so long as the words employed were used in their original meaning. While men were conscious of describing only the departure of the sun when they said “ Endymion sleeps,” the myth had not passed beyond its first stage ; but if once the meaning of the word were either in part or wholly forgotten, the creation of a new personality under this name would become inevitable, and the change would be rendered both more certain and more rapid by the very wealth of words which they lavished on the sights and objects which most impressed their imagination. A thousand phrases would be used to describe the action of a beneficent or consuming sun, of the gentle or awful night, of the playful or furious wind; and every word or phrase became the germ of a new story as soon as the mind lost its hold on the original force of the name.

Thus in the polyonymy which was the result of the earliest form of human thought, we have the germ of the great epics of later times, and of the countless legends which make up the rich stores of mythical tradition. There was no bound or limit to the images suggested by the sun in his ever-varying aspects, and for every one of these aspects they would have a fitting expression, nor could human memory retain the exact meaning of all these phrases when the men who used them had been scattered from their original home. Old epithets would now become the names of new beings, and the legends so framed constitute the class of secondary myths.'

Having thus, as he imagines, traced myths to their origin in the blended affluence and infirmity of human speech, Mr. Cox says of their development :

* But the time during which this mythical speech was the common language of mankind would be a period of transition, in which the idea of existence would be sooner or later expanded into that of personality. Probably before this change had taken place the yet unbroken Aryan family would be scattered to seek new homes in distant lands; and the gradual change of language which that dispersion rendered inevitable would involve a more momentous change in their belief. They would carry away with them the old words and expressions; but these would now be associated with new ideas, or else be imperfectly or wrongly understood. Henceforth the words which had denoted the sun and moon would denote not merely living things but living persons. From personification to deification the steps would be but few; and the process of disintegration would at once furnish the materials for a


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