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8 E UPHEMISTIC TV7 LES.
the name as preserving the primitive meaning of the Sanskrit original of Erinys, namely, Saranyu, which signifies the morning light stealing over the sky. But the descriptions of the Erinyes by the Greek poets—especially of AEschylus, who pictures them as black, serpent-locked, with eyes dropping blood, and calls them hounds—show that Saranyu as morning light, and thus the revealer of deeds of darkness, had gradually been degraded into a personification of the Curse. And yet, while recognising the name Eumenides as euphemistic, we may admire none the less the growth of that rationalism which ultimately found in the epithet a suggestion of the soul of good in things evil, and almost restored the beneficent sense of Saranyu. “I have settled in this place,’ says Athene in the ‘Eumenides' of AEschylus, ‘these mighty deities, hard to be appeased ; they have obtained by lot to administer all things concerning men. But he who has not found them gentle knows not whence come the ills of life.' But before the dread Erinyes of Homer's age had become the ‘venerable goddesses’ (oreplva, 6eal) of popular phrase in Athens, or the Eumenides of the later poet's high insight, piercing their Gorgon form as portrayed by himself, they had passed through all the phases of human terror. Cowering generations had tried to soothe the remorseless avengers by complimentary phrases. The worship of the serpent, originating in the same fear, similarly raised that animal into the region where poets could invest it with many profound and beautiful significances. But these more distinctly terrible deities are found in the shadowy border-land of mythology, from which we may look back into ages when the fear in which worship is born had not yet been separated into its elements of awe and admiration, nor the heaven of supreme forces divided into ranks of benevolent and
SOLAR AWTAGON/SMS. 9
malevolent beings; and, on the other hand, we may look forward to the ages in which the moral consciousness of man begins to form the distinctions between good and evil, right and wrong, which changes cosmogony into religion, and impresses every deity of the mind's creation to do his or her part in reflecting the physical and moral struggles of mankind. The intermediate processes by which the good and evil were detached, and advanced to separate personification,
Fig. 1.-BEElzebub (Calmet).
cannot always be traced, but the indications of their work are in most cases sufficiently clear. The relationship, for instance, between Baal and Baal-zebub cannot be doubted. The one represents the Sun in his glory as quickener of Nature and painter of its beauty, the other the insectbreeding power of the Sun. Baal-zebub is the Fly-god. Only at a comparatively recent period did the deity of
the Philistines, whose oracle was consulted by Ahaziah
navian mythology. In Saemund's Edda the evil-minded
Odin' dost thou remember
When we in early days
Blended our blood together? The two became detached very slowly; for their separation implied the crumbling away of a great religion, and its distribution into new forms; and a religion requires, relatively, as long to decay as it does to grow, as we who live under a crumbling religion have good reason to know. Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, of the Brahmo-Somaj, in an address in London, said, ‘The Indian Pantheon has
* Pausan. v. 14, 2. * Solin. Polyhistor, i. * Pliny, xxix. 6, 34, init.
many millions of deities, and no space is left for the Devil.” He might have added that these deities have distributed between them all the work that the Devil could perform if he were admitted. His remark recalled to me the Eddaic story of Loki's entrance into the assembly of gods in the halls of Oegir. Loki—destined in a later age to be identified with Satan—is angrily received by the deities, but he goes round and mentions incidents in the life of each one which show them to be little if any better than himself. The gods and goddesses, unable to reply, confirm the cynic's criticisms in theologic fashion by tying him up with a serpent for cord. The late Theodore Parker is said to have replied to a Calvinist who sought to convert him — The difference between us is simple: your god is my devil.” There can be little question that the Hebrews, from whom the Calvinist inherited his deity, had no devil in their mythology, because the jealous and vindictive Jehovah was quite equal to any work of that kind,-as the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, bringing plagues upon the land, or deceiving a prophet and then destroying him for his false prophecies. The same accommodating relation of the primitive deities to all natural phenomena will account for the absence of distinct representatives of evil of the most primitive religions. The earliest exceptions to this primeval harmony of the gods, implying moral chaos in man, were trifling enough : the occasional monster seems worthy of mention only to display the valour of the god who slew him. But such were demon-germs, born out of the structural action of the human mind so soon as it began to form some philosophy concerning a universe upon which it had at first looked with simple wonder, and destined to an evokution of vast
* Ezekiel xiv. 9.
I 2 FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF NATURE.
import when the work of moralising upon them should follow. Let us take our stand beside our barbarian, but no longer savage, ancestor in the far past. We have watched the rosy morning as it waxed to a blazing noon: then swiftly the sun is blotted out, the tempest rages, it is a sudden night lit only by the forked lightning that strikes tree, house, man, with angry thunder-peal. From an instructed age man can look upon the storm blackening the sky not as an enemy of the sun, but one of its own superlative effects; but some thousands of years ago, when we were all living in Eastern barbarism, we could not conceive that a luminary whose very business it was to give light, could be a party to his own obscuration. We then looked with pity upon the ignorance of our ancestors, who • had sung hymns to the storm-dragons, hoping to flatter them into quietness; and we came by irresistible logic ‘to, that Dualism which long divided the visible, and still .." "divides the moral, universe into two hostile camps. This is the mother-principle out of which demons (in the ordinary sense of the term) proceeded. At first few, as distinguished from the host of deities by exceptional harmfulness, they were multiplied with man's growth in the classification of his world. Their principle of existence is capable of indefinite expansion, until it shall include all the realms of darkness, fear, and pain. In the names of demons, and in the fables concerning them, the struggles of man in his ages of weakness with peril, want, and death, are recorded more fully than in any inscriptions on stone. Dualism is a creed which all superficial appearances attest. Side by side the desert and the fruitful land, the sunshine and the frost, sorrow and joy, life and death, sit weaving around every life its vesture of bright and sombre threads, and Science alone can detect how each of these