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A brief glance into mythology is sufficient to show that both the greater and the lesser gods constituted, as it were, a magic circle, and that either physical phenomena in general, or magical phenomena and effects in particular, are everywhere developed. I refer all who wish fundamentally and fully to see more on this subject, to the “ Etymologic-symbolic and Mythological Real-Dictionary, by F. Nork,” 1843; and “Mythological Enquiries and Collections, by Wolfgang Menzel,” Stuttgart, 1842, vol. i.
In these the rainbow and the bee are particularly selected to serve as proofs that the objects of nature are comprehended in the reflex of the symbolic and mythologic. Bart, in his Cabiri in Germany, has handled in a masterly manner the comparison of the northern and southern "myths with a solution of the Samothracian mysteries of nature; and still more so has Jacob Grimm, in his “ German Mythology,” published at Göttingen, 1835, and in “The North-German People: their Mythology based originally on natural appearances.
As the universal powers of nature determine all the phenomena of life, they therefore determine the health and sickness, the life and death of men. The more general natural symbols applied to the greater gods; and therefore everywhere indicate conditions of the healing or the destruction of men.
We have already seen the general symbols of Jupiter and Hera, of Vulcan and Neptune, of Mars and Apollo, etc. The Greek legends have described in the combats of the Titans the subjection of the wild elementary powers of nature; in the battle of the Lapithæ and the Centaurs the Neptunic and Plutonic powers of nature. too, is it only the combat of the elements which Homer sung. (See Nork's Real-Dictionary, articles Agamemnon, Achilles, etc.) The ideas of primeval being, of night, of chaos, and of time, are expressed in correspondent symbols, as the production of all things is represented through the beneficent formation and mutation of light-Eros and mother Earth-Rhea.
Only beneficent light creates life, therefore Eros is the creative love-protogenos. But life shapes the
manysided phenomena, therefore Eros is called protogenos in the hymn of Orpheus to Rhea, and no vuoppov, and in so far he appears to have a synonymous meaning with the
enigmatical Proteus, the assumer of many forms, the keeper of the keys of the sea, as he was styled, and of heaven and earth also. Thence is derived the representation of Eros winged like a bird, proceeding from the egg of the world, which Kronos, Time, produced from night,-empty space, reminding us of the comparison of the earth and the heavens to the two halves of an egg, which is to be found amongst nearly all people, and especially amongst the Indians. In India the creative god, Brahma, proceeds from an egg, as the sun, the principle of light. “The idea of the eternal, primeval, and universe-pervading love, was, by degrees, contracted by the sensual Greeks. The God of love, more and more divested of his high dignity as the first-born amongst the gods, sunk down to the genius of sexual passion; but what the Greeks deprived him of in dignity, they richly restored to him in grace and amenity" (W. Menzel.)
Apollo, the god of light and day, had the double universal attributes of producing, and also, through too great heat, of destroying. As the spring sun, diffusing fertility, he is the guardian of herds ; "feeds even the herds of Admetus and of Laomedon; rears excellent mares ;" heals wounds which the death of physical organizations occasions by new births, and is thence styled the healer, nažav, the averter of evil, áletikakoç. As the friend of harmony in nature, he built the walls of Troy, and produced, surrounded by the Muses,--the nine months, the original or moon-year consisting of nine or ten months,—the harmony of the spheres, playing on the seven-stringed planetary lyre. Thence he was also called the god of song, and of music on stringed instruments; and whom Homer represents as playing to the gods during their banquets (Il. vii. 602), for they no longer understood the peculiar signification of his musical character. As the god of light, he was also the seer, the discoverer with the spiritual eye, the soothsayer, and utterer of oracles" (Nork.)
Ottfried Müller has already represented the Apollo-idea as a dualistic one, in so far that in his person two opposite sides meet, which present themselves wholly as the two sides of nature, the creative and the dissolving. Apollo afterwards received, through the constructive genius of the
Greeks, such a metamorphosis, that the merely natural side withdrawing, he came forth the most beautiful of all the gods of Greece in form, the divine representative of order and law, art and science. Nork sketches further the original double character of Apollo, according to his chief qualities as quickener and destroyer, which divides itself into as many portions as there are months ; for the months assume in each sign of the zodiac a new character, which is constantly represented by a particular feature of cultivation. In Caria, a country of sheep, he was, for instance, an augmenter of flocks, and since the goat and the ram have a zodiacal sign in common, Apollo at this season of the year overcomes the goat-shaped Marsyas (the Dionysian Satyr), and appropriates to himself his skin, while Bacchus and he became one being, the new representative of the equinoctial year, and expeller of the old. As the god of divination, he is the healing physician, érikoúpios,—the ιατρόμαντις, and therefore in times of pestilence they sent to Delphi (Pausan. viii. 41.) He proclaimed the will of Zeus, and is called the prophet of the father Zeus at Dodona. He also taught those arts to Hermes; on that account he is the father of the divine physician, Asclepios. Divination was practised at various places, as we have seen, by the priestess Pythia sitting on the tripod, and inspired by the ascending vapour; or by the rustling of trees, as at Delos ; or by inspiring fountains, as at Klaros, etc.
Æsculapius also bears, in common with his father Apollo, the title of physician, healer. Others give Mercury as the father of Æsculapius (Cicero de nat. deor. c. 22.)
Of just as much importance to us is the god Mercury, Hermes. He is a son of Jupiter and the nymph Maia ; of heaven and earth, originally, he belongs to the blessingdiffusing gods, as an ancient Pelasgic Arcadian divinity, but merged early in the Hellenic mythology into the nature of the herald, and in this character receded more and more from his former rank. "Born early in the morning, he played at noon on the guitar, and in the evening stole the cattle of the far-shooting Apollo. He bound tamarisks and boughs of myrtle-like plants to the tails and the feet of the cattle in order to obliterate all traces of their steps (Homer. hymn. Merc. lxxv. v. 17, etc.) According to Homer, it was in the sacred herds of the gods that he pastured; according to Ovid and Apollodorus, the herds appertained to Apollo. Besides this, according to Lucian, Hermes stole the trident from Poseidon, the sword from Ares, the bow and arrow from Apollo, the girdle from Aphrodite, the sceptre from Zeus, and the tongs from Pluto. This cunning and address in the most endless varieties caused him to be styled the many-placed, toliTporos; the crafty, dócos, the deceiver; the god and captain of thieves. When Hermes, after many stratagems and much resistance, was compelled to return the cattle to Apollo, he then herded them for him, invented the syrinx, and presented it to Apollo. In return for this, Apollo gave him the golden staff, which he had himself received as a herdsman, and with which the art of public speaking and of vaticination is conferred.
Now what did this staff really indicate ? As the other attributes of Hermes are connected with this fact, we will endeavour to present the true answer.
On account of his address and eloquence, Hermes was made herald and proclaimer of the gods, Ερμής, λόγως, lóyou npoonths. The heralds were public orators in embassies, in commissions, and in assemblies of the people (Il. i. 333 ff.) Hermes was, therefore, the messenger of gods and men. He is the one endowed with a penetrating spirit; and the inventor of various things, as the lyre, letters, numbers, astronomy, the sacrifice, measures and weights, gymnastics, etc. He imparts a portion of endowments to men, as he taught Ulysses to resist the sorceries of Circe; and all such are under his protection. To Pandora he gave, at the command of Zeus, the gifts of lies and of subtle thought. On account of these qualities he was called the looker into the night, kluróßoulos. As herald he carried to men the commands and the counsels of the gods, and was to them the health-bringing genius. As the speaker in council, and the god of eloquence, the tongues of rein-deer were offered to him; and with this circumstance probably is connected the Greek adage—'Epuńs ételñon, Hermes has interest, that is, when any one in company began to speak earnestly. He was called also the giver of good-humour Xapidurns, which also may mean benefactor and diffuser of blessings (Hom. hymn. xxiv. 12.)
Already, in the qualities we have passed in review, we perceive in Hercules the all-transpiercing electrical power, in Hermes the intellectual, and as the former has more body, the latter has the winged spirit. In the history of Hermes, also, the whole of the peculiar phenomena of magnetic somnambulism are personified, which will become more striking in what follows.
As herald of the gods, and especially of Zeus, Hermes is sent out, in order to arrange all sorts of magnetical things, άγγελος, τρόχις του διώς. Thus he conducts Priam to Achilles, in order to solicit the body of Hector, so that no one perceived him (Il. xxiv. 336.) He bound Ixion on the wheel ; welded the chains of Prometheus on Caucasus, a deed ascribed by others to Hephæstos; carried off Chione; sold Heracles; was called upon by Zeus to steal Io, who had been changed into a cow which was guarded by Argos ; he lulled the hundred-eyed Argos into sleep with the newly-invented flute. In combat with the giants, armed with the helmet of Ais, which rendered him invisible, he killed Hippolytus.
As herald, he was also the charioteer and seneschal of the gods, and the director of dreams as messengers to men, syntwp óveipwv; he who gives to me sleep and takes it, and bears the staff
, wherewith be closes the eyes of mortals, as he will, and again awakes the slumberer (Iliad. xxiv. 345, 445.) In this character he is called the sender of dreams, όνειροπομπός ; the giver of sleep, ύπνου προστάτης ; a. genius who scatters a horn-ful of dreams, and the shapes of things. “Men, therefore, before retiring to rest, poured out to him drink-offerings (Odyss. vii. 138; Plut. Symp. vii. 9), and the libation itself, by which we sought to procure good dreams from God, was called Hermes” (Philostrat. Her. x. 8.) On account of all these properties, Hermes is the associate of those heroes who go on dangerous adventures under the protection of Zeus. Thus he conducted Priam into the Hellenic camp (Il. xxiv. 461); Perseus, when he went to fetch the head of Gorgon (Apollod. ii. 4, 2); Heracles in the kingdom of Ais (Odyss. ii. 625). As the messenger of Zeus, he conducted the shades of the dead to