free ebooks

The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, September 1879

In that myth of incontestably Phenician origin


See E. Ledrain: "Histoire d'Israel," vol. i. p. 416.

[64] See Rawlinson: "The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient World," 2nd edition, vol. ii. p. 7.

[65] Botta: "Monuments of Nineveh," vol. ii. p. 150.

[66] This image was also employed for the same purpose in the time of the Sassanides, and we can trace the history of the curious vicissitudes which led to its being imitated as a mode of ornamentation, having no particular significance, first among the Arabs, and next in some western edifices of the Roman Period.

[67] Layard: "Cultus of Mithra," xvi. No. 4. G. Smith: "Chaldean Account of Genesis." The cylinder is of Babylonish workmanship and great antiquity.

[68] This head-dress, frequently represented on monuments, is spoken of as characteristic of the Chaldeans in Ezekiel xxiii. 15.

[69] Panofka inclines to give to this couple the names of Deucalion and Pyrrha, the son of Prometheus and daughter of Pandora, progenitors of a postdiluvian human race. We see no objection to this, provided, however, that it be admitted that the monument shows the introduction of a legend similar to that of Adam and Havah, attached to those personages. As the probable theatre of such an introduction, one might be led to think of Iconia in Asia Minor, when the formation of men by Prometheus

was, by local tradition, assigned to a period immediately succeeding the deluge of Deucalion, and told with details singularly akin to those given in the Bible.

[70] Cesnola: "Cyprus: its Ancient Cities, Tombs, and Temples," p. 101.

[71] We must limit ourselves, must not be carried away into exaggerated developments. We will not, therefore, carry these analogies further. But they might be pursued in a direction that shall be briefly pointed at. It is difficult to avoid seeing a similarity between the Tree of Paradise of Asiatic Cosmogonies, and the tree of golden fruit in the garden of the Hesperides, guarded by the serpents which figured monuments invariably represent coiled about its trunk. In that myth of incontestably Phenician origin, according to which Hercules slays the guardian serpent and secures the golden apples, we have the revenge of the luminous or solar god reconquering the tree of life from a dark, jealous, and inimical power, personified by the serpent, which had taken possession of it in the world's early days. In the same way we have in the Indian myth the gods regaining the ambrosia from the Asouras or demons that had stolen it. We may also observe that Hercules, the conqueror of the dragon of the Hesperides, is also the liberator of Prometheus, him who first, despite the divine prohibition, gathered fire, the fruit of the celestial and cosmic tree.

[72] "Die Herabkunft des Feuers und die Goettertranks." Berlin, 1859.

[73] On the existence among the Babylonians of the idea of the cosmic tree, see C. W. Mansell, _Gazette Archeologique_, 1878, p. 138.

Among the myths borrowed by the philosopher Pherecides, of Syros, from the Phenician mysteries, was that of the winged-oak ([Greek: hupopteros drus]), over which Zeus had spread a magnificent veil representing the constellations, the earth and ocean. Here we manifestly have the cosmic tree again.

[74] Mr. Fergusson's work, "Tree and Serpent Worship" (London, 1868), is not quite free from this defect, the learned author having displayed more erudition and ingenuity than critical faculty.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us