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even with his sword he could encounter such a monster, so he resorted to stratagem; he obtained eight vast bowls, filled them with eight different kinds of wine, and, having built a fence with the same number of openings, set a bowl in each. The result may be imagined: the eight heads in passing over the bowls paused, drank deep, and were soon in a state of beastly intoxication. In this condition the heads were severed from their neck, and the maiden saved to wed the first Mikado Prince.
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Demigods—Alcestis–Herakles—The Ghilghit Fiend—Incarnate deliverer of Ghilghit—A Dardistan Madonna—The religion of Atheism—Resuscitation of Dragons—St. George and his Dragon —Emerson and Ruskin on George—Saintly allies of the Dragon.
THEOLOGY has pronounced Incarnation a mystery, but nothing is simpler. The demigod is man's appeal from the gods. It may also be, as Emerson says, that “when the half-gods go the gods arrive,’ but it is equally true that their coming signals the departure of deities which man had long invoked in vain. The great Heraklean myth presents us the ideal of godlike force united to human sympathy. Ra (the Sun) passing the twelve gates (Hours) of Hades (Night)" is humanised in Herakles and his Twelve Labours. He is Son of Zeus by a human mother—Alcmene—and his labours for human welfare, as well as his miraculous conception, influenced Christianity. The divine Man assailing the monsters of divine creation represents human recognition of the fact that moral order in nature is co-extensive with the control of mankind. One expression of this perception is the Alcestis of Euripides, whose significance in relation to death we have considered.” ‘Alcestis, as I have written in another work, ‘is one of the few ancient Greek melodramas. The majority of * “Records of the Past,’ x. 79. * Page 285.
dramas left us by the poets of Greece turn upon religious themes, and usually they are tragedies. It is evident that to them the popular religion around them was itself a tragedy. Their heroes and heroines—such as Prometheus and Macaria—were generally victims of the jealousy or caprice of the gods; and though the poets display in their dramas the irresistible power of the gods, they do so without reverence for that power, and generally show the human victims to be more honourable than the gods. But the ‘Alcestis' of Euripides is not a tragedy; it ends happily, and in the rescue of one of those victims of the gods. It stands as about the first notice served on the gods that the human heart had got tired of their high-handed proceedings, and they might prepare to quit the thrones of a universe unless they could exhibit more humanity. . . . Knowing that neither he nor any other deity can legally resist the decree of another deity, Apollo is reduced to hope for help from man. Human justice may save when divine justice sacrifices. He prophesies to Death that although he may seize Alcestis, a man will come who will conquer him, and deliver that woman from the infernal realm. . . . Then Hercules comes on the scene. He has been slaying lion and dragon, and he now resolves to conquer Death and deliver Alcestis. This he does.” In this pre-christian yet christian Passion Play, the part played by the heart of woman is equally heroic with that which represents the honour of man. So in the religion which followed there was an effort to set beside the incarnate vanquisher of infernal powers the pierced heart of Mary. But among all the legends of this character it were difficult to find one more impressive than that which Dr. Leitner found in Dardistan, and one which, despite its
1 ‘Alcestis in England.’ Printed by the South Place Society, Finsbury, London. 1877.
length, will repay a careful perusal. This legend of the origin of the Ghilghit tribe and government was told by a native. ‘ Once upon a time there lived a race at Ghilghit whose origin is uncertain. Whether they sprung from the soil or had immigrated from a distant region is doubtful; so much is believed that they were Gayups, i.e., spontaneous, aborigines, unknown. Over them ruled a monarch who was a descendant of the evil spirits, the Yatsh, who terrorised over the world. His name was Shiribadatt, and he resided at a castle in front of which was a course for the performance of the manly game of Polo. His tastes were capricious, and in every one of his actions his fiendish origin could be discerned. The natives bore his rule with resignation, for what could they effect against a monarch at whose command even magic aids were placed 2 However, the country was rendered fertile, and round the capital bloomed attractive. The heavens, or rather the virtuous Peris, at last grew tired of his tyranny, for he had crowned his iniquities by indulging in a propensity for cannibalism. This taste had been developed by an accident. One day his cook brought him some mutton broth the like of which he had never tasted. After much inquiry as to the nature of the food on which the sheep had been brought up, it was eventually traced to an old woman, its first owner. She stated that her child and the sheep were born on the same day, and losing the former, she had consoled herself by suckling the latter. This was a revelation to the tyrant. He had discovered the secret of the palatability of the broth, and was determined to have a neverending supply of it. So he ordered that his kitchen should be regularly provided with children of a tender age, whose flesh, when converted into broth, would remind him of the exquisite dish he had once so much relished. This cruel
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order was carried out. The people of the country were dismayed at such a state of things, and sought slightly to improve it by sacrificing, in the first place, all orphans and children of neighbouring tribes. The tyrant, however, was insatiable, and soon was his cruelty felt by many families at Ghilghit, who were compelled to give up their children to slaughter. “Relief came at last. At the top of the mountain Ko, which it takes a day to ascend, and which overlooks the village of Doyur, below Ghilghit, on the other side of the river, appeared three figures. They looked like men, but much more strong and handsome. In their arms they carried bows and arrows, and turning their eyes in the direction of Doyur, they perceived innumerable flocks of sheep and cattle grazing on a prairie between that village and the foot of the mountain. The three strangers were brothers, and none of them had been born at the same time. It was their intention to make Azru Shemsher, the youngest, Rajah of Ghilghit, and, in order to achieve their purpose, they hit upon the following plan. On the already noticed prairie, which is called Didingé, a sportive calf was gambolling towards and away from its mother. It was the pride of its owner, and its brilliant red colour could be seen "from a distance. ‘Let us see whe-is—the best marksman,’ exclaimed the eldest, and, saying this, he shot an arrow in the direction of the calf, but missed his aim. The second brother also tried to hit it, but also failed. At last, Azru Shemsher, who took a deep interest in the sport, shot his arrow, which pierced the poor animal from side to side and killed it. The brothers, whilst descending, congratulated Azru on his sportsmanship, and on arriving at the spot where the calf was lying, proceeded to cut its throat and to take out from its body the titlits, namely, the kidney's aud the liver.