Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

18 e IAMEMESS OF DEMONS.

high and beauteous damsels, whose intercession is to be
hoped for,’ the response being afterwards attributed to a
suggestion of Satan." Belial is merely a word for godless-
ness; it has become personified through the misunder-
standing of the phrase in the Old Testament by the
translators of the Septuagint, and thus passed into chris-
tian use, as in 2 Cor. vi. 15, ‘What concord hath Christ
with Belial 2' The word is not used as a proper name in
the Old Testament, and the late creation of a demon out
of it may be set down to accident.
Even where the names of demons and devils bear no
such traces of their degradation from the state of deities,
there are apt to be characteristics attributed to them, or
myths connected with them, which point in the direction
indicated. Such is the case with Satan, of whom much
must be said hereafter, whose Hebrew name signifies the
adversary, but who, in the Book of Job, appears among the
sons of God. The name given to the devil in the Koran—
Eblis—is almost certainly diabolos Arabicised; and while
this Greek word is found in Pindar” (5th century B.C.),
meaning a slanderer, the fables in the Koran concerning
Eblis describe him as a fallen angel of the highest rank.
One of the most striking indications of the fall of de-
mons from heaven is the wide-spread belief that they are
lame. Mr. Tylor has pointed out the curious persistence
of this idea in various ethnical lines of development.”
Hephaistos was lamed by his fall when hurled by Zeus
from Olympos; and it is not a little singular that in
the English travesty of limping Vulcan, represented in
Wayland the Smith," there should appear the suggestion,

* See Sale's Koran, p. 281. * Pindar, Fragm., 270.

* Tylor's ‘Early Hist. of Mankind," p. 358; “Prim. Cult..,’ vol. ii. p. 23o.

* The Gascons of Labourd call the devil ‘Seigneur Voland,' and some revere him as a patron.

[ocr errors]

THE DE VIL’S HORAWS. - 19

remarked by Mr. Cox, of the name ‘Vala' (seducer), one of the designations of the dragon destroyed by Indra. ‘In Sir Walter Scott's romance,’ says Mr. Cox, ‘Wayland is a mere impostor, who avails himself of a popular superstition to keep up an air of mystery about himself and his work, but the character to which he makes pretence belongs to the genuine Teutonic legend.” The Persian demon Aeshma — the Asmodeus of the Book of Tobit —appears with the same characteristic of lameness in the ‘Diable Boiteux' of Le Sage. The christian devil's clubbed or cloven foot is notorious. Even the horns popularly attributed to the devil may possibly have originated with the aureole which indicates the glory of his ‘first estate.' Satan is depicted in various relics of early art wearing the aureole, as in a miniature of the tenth century (from Bible No. 6, Bib. Roy.), given by M. Didron.” The same author has shown that Pan and the Satyrs, who had so much to do with the shaping of our horned and hoofed devil, originally got their horns from the same high source as Moses in the old Bibles,” and in the great statue of him at Rome by Michel. Angelo. It is through this mythologic history that the most powerful demons have been associated in the popular imagination with stars, planets, Ketu in India, Saturn and Mercury the ‘Infortunes,'—comets, and other celestial phenomena. The examples of this are so numerous that it is impossible to deal with them here, where I can only hope to offer a few illustrations of the principles affirmed; and in this case it is of less importance for the English

1 ‘Myth. of the Aryan Nations,’ vol. ii. p. 327.

* “Christian Iconography,” Bohn, p. 158.

* “Videbant faciem egredientis Moysis esse cornutam."—Vulg. Exod. xxxiv. 35.

[ocr errors]

reader, because of the interesting volume in which the subject has been specially dealt with." Incidentally, too, the astrological demons and devils must recur from time to time in the process of our inquiry. But it will probably be within the knowledge of some of my readers that the dread of comets and of meteoric showers yet lingers in many parts of Christendom, and that fear of unlucky stars has not passed away with astrologers. There is a Scottish legend told by Hugh Miller of an avenging meteoric demon. A shipmaster who had moored his vessel near Morial's Den, amused himself by watching the lights of the scattered farmhouses. After all the rest had gone out one light lingered for some time. When that light too had disappeared, the shipmaster beheld a large meteor, which, with a hissing noise, moved towards the cottage. A dog howled, an owl whooped; but when the fire-ball had almost reached the roof, a cock crew from within the cottage, and the meteor rose again. Thrice this was repeated, the meteor at the third cock-crow ascending among the stars. On the following day the shipmaster went on shore, purchased the cock, and took it away with him. Returned from his voyage, he looked for the cottage, and found nothing but a few blackened stones. Nearly sixty years ago a human skeleton was found near the spot, doubled up as if the body had been huddled into a hole: this revived the legend, and probably added some of those traits which make it a true bit of mosaic in the mythology of Astraea.” The fabled “fall of Lucifer' really signifies a process similar to that which has been noticed in the case of Saranyu. The morning star, like the morning light, as

* “Myths and Marvels of Astronomy.” By R. A. Proctor. Chatto & Windus, 1878. * “Scenes and Legends,’ &c., p. 73.

IXEMOM'S LUMIMOUS. 2 I

revealer of the deeds of darkness, becomes an avenger, and by evolution an instigator of the evil it originally disclosed and punished. It may be remarked also that though we have inherited the phrase “Demons of Darkness,’ it was an ancient rabbinical belief that the demons went abroad in darkness not only because it facilitated their attacks on man, but because being of luminous forms, they could recognise each other better with a background of darkness.

CHAPTER IV.

THE ABGOTT.

The ex-god—Deities demonised by conquest—Theological animosity—Illustration from the Avesta—Devil-worship an arrested Deism—Sheik Adi-Why demons were painted ugly—Survivals of their beauty.

THE phenomena of the transformation of deities into demons meet the student of Demonology at every step. We shall have to consider many examples of a kind similar to those which have been mentioned in the preceding chapter; but it is necessary to present at this stage of our inquiry a sufficient number of examples to establish the fact that in every country forces have been at work to degrade the primitive gods into types of evil, as preliminary to a consideration of the nature of those forces. We find the history of the phenomena suggested in the German word for idol, Abgott—ex-god. Then we have ‘pagan,’ villager, and ‘heathen,’ of the heath, denoting those who stood by their old gods after others had transferred their faith to the new. These words bring us to consider the influence upon religious conceptions of the struggles which have occurred between races and nations, and consequently between their religions. It must be borne in mind that by the time any tribes had gathered to the consistency of a nation, one of the strongest forces of its coherence would

« ZurückWeiter »