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418 SERPEMT SUPERSTITION AND SCIENCE.
the venomous potentate, or the christian's imprecation upon it: fundamentally it is serpent-worship in each case. Vishnu reposes on his celestial Serpent; the god of Dogma maintains his government by support of the infernal Serpent. Fear beheld him appearing in Durham to vindicate the mass and the Sabbath; but the same fear still sees him in the fiery world punishing Sabbath-breakers and blasphemers against his Creator and chief. That fear built every cathedral in Christendom, and they must crumble with the phantasm evoked for their creation. The Serpent in itself is a perfect type of all evil in nature. It is irreconcilable with the reign of a perfectly good and omnipotent man over the universe. No amount of casuistry can explain its co-existence with anthropomorphic Love and Wisdom, as all acknowledge when a parallel casuistry attempts to defend any other god than their own from deeds that are, humanly considered, evil. It is just as easy to defend the jealousy and cruelty of Jove, on the ground that his ways are not as our ways, as it is to defend similar tempers in Jehovah. The monster sent by one to devour Prometheus is ethically atwin with the snake created by the other to bite the heel of man. Man is saved from the superstitious evolution of the venomous Serpent into a Dragon by recognising its real evolution as seen by the eye of Science. Science alone can tell the true story of the Serpent, and justify its place in nature. It forbids man his superstitious method of making a god in his own image, and his egotistic method of judging nature according to his private likes and dislikes, his convenience or inconvenience. Taught by Science man may, with a freedom the barbarian cannot feel, exterminate the Serpent; with a freedom the christian cannot know, he may see in that reptile the perfection of that economy in nature which has ever defended the advancing SCIENCE THE SPEAR OF ITHURIEZ. 419
forms of life. It judges the good and evil of every form with reference to its adaptation to its own purposes. Thus Science alone wields the spear of Ithuriel, and beneath its touch every Dragon shrinks instantly to its little shape in nature to be dealt with according to what it is.
Doré's ‘Love and Fate’—Moira and Moirae—The ‘Fates’ of AEschylus —Divine absolutism surrendered—Jove and Typhon—Commutation of the Demon's share — Popular fatalism—Theological fatalism—Fate and Necessity—Deification of Will–Metaphysics, past and present.
GUSTAVE DORE has painted a picture of ‘Love and Fate,’ in which the terrible hag is portrayed towering above the tender Eros, and while the latter is extending the thread as far as he can, the wrinkled hands of Destiny are the boundaries of his power, and the fatal shears close upon the joy he has stretched to its inevitable limit. To the ancient mind these two forms made the two great realms of the universe, their powers meeting in the fruit with a worm at its core, in seeds of death germinating amid the play of life, in all the limitations of man. They are projected in myths of Elysium and Hades, Eden and the Serpent, Heaven and Hell, and their manifold variants. Perhaps there is no one line of mythological development which more clearly and impressively illustrates the forces under which grew the idea of an evil principle, than the changes which the personification of Fate underwent in Greece and Rome. The Moira, or Fate with Homer, is only a secondary cause, if that, and simply carries out the decrees of her father, Zeus. Zeus is the real Fate. Never
MOIRA AND MOIRAE. 42 I
theless, while this is the Homeric theory or theology, there are intimations (see chap. xxvii. part 4) that the real awe of men was already transferred from Zeus to the Erinnyes. This foreshadows a change of government. With Hesiod we find, instead of one, three Moirae. They are no longer offspring of Zeus, but, as it were, his Cabinet. They do not act independently of him, but when, in pursuance of their just counsels, Zeus issues decrees, the Moirae administer them. Next we find the Moirae of Hesiod developed by other writers into final Recorders; they write the decrees of Zeus on certain indestructible tablets, after which they are irrevocable and inevitable. With AEschylus we find the Moirae developed into independent and supreme powers, above Zeus himself. The chained Prometheus looks not to Zeus but to Fate for his final liberation.
Chorus. Who, then, is the guide of Necessity ? Prometheus. The tri-form Fates and the unforgetting Furies. Cho. Is Zeus, then, less powerful than they P Prom. At least ’tis certain he cannot escape his own doom. Cho. And what can be Zeus' doom but everlasting rule 2 Prom. This ye may not learn ; press it not. Cho. Surely some solemn mystery thou hidest. Prom. Turn to some other theme : for this disclosure time has not ripened : it must be veiled in deep mystery, for by the keeping of this secret shall come my liberty from base chains and misery.
These great landmarks represent successive revolutions in the Olympian government. Absolutism became burthensome : as irresponsible monarch, Zeus became responsible for the woes of the world, and his priests were satisfied to have an increasing share of that responsibility allotted to his counsellors, until finally the whole of it is transferred. From that time the countenance of Zeus, or Jupiter, shines out unclouded by responsibility for human misfortunes and earthly evils ; and, on the other hand, the 422 JoWE AND TYPHON.
once beautiful Fates are proportionately blackened, and they become hideous hags, the aged and lame crones of popular belief in Greece and Rome, every line of whose ugliness would have disfigured the face of Zeus had he not been subordinated to them. Moira means ‘share,' and originally, perhaps, meant simply the power that meted out to each his share of life, and of the pains and pleasures woven in it till the term be reached. But as the Fates gained more definite personality they began to be regarded as having also a ‘share’ of their own. They came to typify all the dark and formidable powers as to their inevitableness. No divine power could set them aside, or more than temporarily subdue them. Fate measured out her share to the remorseless Gorgon as well as to the fairest god. But where destructive power was exercised in a way friendly to man, the Fates are put somewhat in the background, and the feat is claimed for some god. Such, in the “Prometheus' of AEschylus, is the spirit of the wonderful passage concerning Typhon, rendered with tragic depth by Theodore Buckley:-‘I commiserated too,' says the rock-bound Prometheus, “when I beheld the earth-born inmate of the Cilician caverns, a tremendous prodigy, the hundred-headed impetuous Typhon, overpowered by force; who withstood all the gods, hissing slaughter from his hungry jaws, and from his eyes there flashed a hideous glare as if he would perforce overthrow the sovereignty of Jove. But the sleepless shaft of Jupiter came upon him, the descending thunderbolt breathing forth flame which scared him out of his presumptuous bravadoes ; for having been smitten to his very soul he was crumbled to a cinder, and thunder-blasted in his prowess. And now, a hapless and paralysed form, is he lying hard by a narrow frith, pressed down beneath the roots of AEtna. And, seated on the