Abbildungen der Seite


that “they ordered him (the demon) to abstain from eating men, but gave him Wurrun or permission to inflict disease on mankind, and to obtain offerings.’ This is very much the same as the privilege given our Western funeral agencies and cemeteries also ; and when the Modliar adds that Sanni ‘ has eighteen principal attendants, one can hardly help thinking of the mummers, gravediggers, chaplains, all engaged unconsciously in the work of making the earth less habitable. The first of the attendants of this formidable avenger of his mother's wrongs is named Bhoota Sanni Yakseya, Demon of Madness. The whole demonolatry and devildancing of that island are so insane that one is not surprised that this Bhoota had but little special development. It is amid clear senses we might naturally look for full horror of madness, and there indeed do we find it. One of the most horrible forms of the disease-demon was the personification of madness among the Greeks, as Mania." In the Hercules Furens of Euripides, where Madness, ‘the unwedded daughter of black Night,’ and sprung of ‘the blood of Coelus, is evoked from Tartarus for the express purpose of imbreeding in Hercules ‘child-slaying disturbances of reason,' there is a suggestion of the hereditary nature of insanity. Obedient to the vindictive order of Juno, “in her chariot hath gone forth the marble-visaged, all-mournful Madness, the Gorgon of Night, and with the hissing of hundred heads of snakes, she gives the goad to her chariot, on mischief bent.' We may plainly see that the

* This demoness is not to be connected with the Italian Mania, probably of Etruscan origin, with which nurses frightened children. This Mania, from an old word manus signifying ‘good,' was, from the relation of her name to Manes, supposed to be mother of the Lares, whose revisitations of the earth were generally of ill omen. According to an oracle which said heads should be offered for the sake of heads, children were sacrificed to this household fiend up to the time of Junius Brutus, who substituted poppy-heads.

[ocr errors]

religion which embodied such a form was itself ending in madness. Already ancient were the words pavruk) (prophecy) and pavik) (madness) when Plato cited their identity to prove one kind of madness the special gift of Heaven: " the notion lingers in Dryden's line, ‘Great wits to madness sure are near allied;’ and survive in regions where deference is paid to lunatics and idiots. Other diseases preserve in their names indications of similar association : e.g., Nympholepsy, St. Vitus's Dance, St. Anthony's Fire. Wesley attributes still epilepsy to ‘possession.’ This was in pursuance of ancient beliefs. Typhus, a name anciently given to every malady accompanied with stupor (TÜbos), seemed the breath of feverish Typhon. Max Müller connects the word quinsy with Sanskrit amh, “to throttle,' and Ahi the throttling serpent, its medium being angina ; and this again is kvváyxm, dogthrottling, the Greek for quinsy.” The genius of William Blake, steeped in Hebraism, never showed greater power than in his picture of Plague. A gigantic hideous form, pale-green, with the slime of stagnant pools, reeking with vegetable decays and gangrene, the face livid with the motley tints of pallor and putrescence, strides onward with extended arms like a sower sowing his seeds, only in this case the germs of his horrible harvest are not cast from the hands, but emanate from the fingers as being of their essence. Such, to the savage mind, was the embodiment of malaria, sultriness, rottenness, the putrid Pretraya, invisible, but smelt and felt. Such, to the ignorant imagination, is the Destroying Angel to which rationalistic artists and poets have tried to add wings and majesty; but which in the popular mind was no doubt pictured more like this form found at Ostia

[ocr errors]


(fig. 16), and now passing in the Vatican for a Satan,— probably a demon of the Pontine Marshes, and of the fever that still has victims of its fatal cup (p. 291). In these fearful forms the poor savage believed with such an intensity that he was able to shape the brain of man to his

phantasy; bringing about the ano- TU maly that the great reformer, So Luther, should affirm, even while --so fighting superstition, that a Chris- / tian ought to know that he lives % in the midst of devils, and that the devil is nearer to him than his coat or his shirt. The devils, he tells us, are all around us, and are Ví at every moment seeking to en- o snare our lives, salvation, and happiness. There are many of them in the woods, waters, deserts, and in damp muddy places, for the purpose of doing folk a mischief. They also house in the dense black clouds, and send storms, hail, thunder and lightning, and poison the air with Fig 6–Borouse at their infernal stench. In one place, Luther tells us that the devil has more vessels and boxes full of poison, with which he kills people, than all the apothecaries in the whole world. He sends all plagues and diseases among men. We may be sure that when any one dies of the pestilence, is drowned, or drops suddenly dead, the devil does it. Knowing nothing of Zoology, the primitive man easily falls into the belief that his cattle—the means of life—may be the subjects of sorcery. Jesus sending devils into a herd of swine may have become by artificial process a divine benefactor in the eye of Christendom, but the myth



makes Him bear an exact resemblance to the dangerous sorcerer that fills the savage mind with dread. It is probable that the covetous eye denounced in the decalogue means the evil eye, which was supposed to blight an object intensely desired but not to be obtained. Gopolu, already referred to (p. 136) as the Singhalese demon of hydrophobia, bears the general name of the ‘Cattle Demon.’ He is said to have been the twin of the demigod Mangara by a queen on the Coromandel coast. The mother died, and a cow suckled the twins, but afterwards they quarrelled, and Gopolu being slain was transformed into a demon. He repaired to Arangodde, and fixed his abode in a Banyan where there is a large beehive, whence proceed many evils. The population around this Banyan for many miles being prostrated by diseases, the demigod Mangara and Pattini (goddess of chastity) admonished the villagers to sacrifice a cow regularly, and thus they were all resuscitated. Gopolu now sends all cattle diseases. India is full of the like superstitions. The people of Travancore especially dread the demon Madan, “he who is like a cow, believed to strike oxen with sudden illness, sometimes men also. In Russia we find superstition sometimes modified by common sense. Though the peasant hopes that Zegory (St. George) will defend his cattle, he begins to see the chief foes of his cattle. As in the folk-song—

We have gone around the field,
We have called Zegory. . . .
O thou, our brave Zegory,
Save our cattle,
In the field and beyond the field,
In the forest and beyond the forest,
Under the bright moon,
Under the red sun,
From the rapacious wolf,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Nevertheless when a cattle plague occurs many villages relapse into a normally extinct state of mind. Thus, a few years ago, in a village near Moscow, all the women, having warned the men away, stripped themselves entirely naked and drew a plough so as to make a furrow entirely around the village. At the point of juncture in this circle they buried alive a cock, a cat, and a dog. Then they filled the air with lamentations, crying—‘Cattle Plague ! Cattle Plague ! spare our cattle ! Behold, we offer thee cock, cat, and dog l’ The dog is a demonic character in Russia, while the cat is sacred; for once when the devil tried to get into Paradise in the form of a mouse, the dog allowed him to pass, but the cat pounced on him —the two animals being set on guard at the door. The offering of both seems to represent a desire to conciliate both sides. The nudity of the women may have been to represent to the hungry gods their utter poverty, and inability to give more; but it was told me in Moscow, where I happened to be staying at the time, that it would be dangerous for any man to draw near during the performan Ce. In Altmark the demons who bewitch cattle are called ‘Bihlweisen, and are believed to bury certain diabolical charms under thresholds over which the animals are to pass, causing them to wither away, the milk to cease, etc. The prevention is to wash the cattle with a lotion of sea cabbage boiled with infusion of wine. In the same province it is related that once there appeared in a harvestfield at one time fifteen, at another twelve men (apparently), the latter headless. They all laboured with

* Ralston's ‘Songs of the Russian People,’ p. 230. * ‘Sagen der Altmark.’ Von A. Kuhn. Berlin, 1843.

« ZurückWeiter »