Page images

artistic skill, and they were denounced as sorcerers and demons, which is exactly the spirit in which every new doctrine is cried down into a heresy."

3rdly. The Telchini were described as most inventive artists, who established healthful customs, and executed images of the gods. They smelted, in the Idæic caves, brass and iron; forged the sickle of Cronos, with which he mutilated Uranos-(the universal power of Heaven predominates with a decided power over Time)-the trident of Neptune(the threefold electrical lordship of the sea, as the equipoise between air and water, or as the three points of the electrical fire). They also constructed that pernicious necklace which Haphæstos gave to Hermione (Diod. iv. 65.) In the last character they may have given occasion to allocate them with the Idaic Dactyls, and their descent with that of the Curetes; for Strabo says, they who accompanied Rhea to Crete, and brought up Zeus, were called Curetes "from the nine Telchini of Rhodes." They are called the Telchini of the deep, the sons of Posiedon. They arise out of the deep, and fight in the host of Dionysos. The fleet Telchini follow him on sea-horses (Pausanias, ix. 19.) These were images of Apollo, of Hera, and of Athene, which were called Telchini, in which there probably lay a principle of magic; and thus there was a Telchinic Hera, as there was a Cabiric Demeter.

The Dactyls originated in Phrygia; we have already become acquainted with their number and kind as sorcerers, discoverers of arts, and scientific physicians. The name Mount Ida is by others derived from mother Ida and the father Dactylos; the number is as differently calculated. According to some they are equal to the fingers of the hands,-five male, and five female. Pherecydes gives twenty right, and two-and-thirty left; others a hundred, because a hundred men came from Crete; Orpheus the Argonant gives a whole throng; Pausanias five, namely, Hercules, Epimedes, Pæon, Jason, and Idas. Celmus, or the Telchinic Scelmus, is called by Hesychias a child, a kind of Cadmil, probably one who produced magical effects by words and songs. Telchin was also called Damanamenes, the powerful, the binder, especially he who binds the oxen to the yoke; Epimedes is called the reflector, the director of

counsel. The names Jason, Pæon, Idas-Akesidas, betoken professors of the healing art. Acmon is called the mountain-runner; he is in the host of Bacchuses, and whirls the Corybant lance, on which Zeus slept as an infant, while his birth was concealed by the din of shields struck together. An Idæic finger means an iron-finger. They were conjurors, magicians, exorcists of sickness, soothsayers. They occupied themselves with magic songs, consecrations, mysteries, and, while they remained in Samothrace, threw the inhabitants into great astonishment. As sorcerers they appeared in Italy, according to Plutarch. It was said the left bind spells, the right unloose them; and to catch a dactyl was a usual adage for a fruitless attempt. Their names already were magical, having power to repel terrible phenomena. To them belongs the use of the Ephesian runes, the discovery of which is attributed to them, as to Hercules that of the Phrygian letters. The discovery of the minerals was also ascribed to them, as well as the notes of music and the musical scale. They first brought musical instruments into Greece. In Crete they discovered fire; they were rapid runners and dancers, and the Dactylus was a peculiar kind of dance; the Dactylon a famous healing herb, etc. From them proceed the first wise men; Orpheus was their scholar, who brought the mysteries, to Greece. They were already called the ministers of Cybele, and Schweigger has demonstrated them to be the magnetic powers and spirits, at the head of whom was Hercules.

[ocr errors]

While," says Bart, " we treat of the close union of the Dactyls and magnetic force, we are not necessarily confined to the magnetic stone, and our views of nature, but take a glance at magnetism in its whole meaning. Then it is clear how the initiated, who called themselves Dactyls, created astonishment in the people through their magic arts, working, as they did, marvels of a healing nature. To this united themselves many other things which the priesthood of antiquity was wont to practise; the cultivation of the land and of morals, the advancement of art and science, mysteries and secret consecrations. All this was done by the priestly Cabiri, and wherefore not guided and supported by the secret spirits of nature? Thus was their knowledge linked

[blocks in formation]

to the religious sense, and Hercules affords an example of the intermingling of these ideas.”

Bart then goes into a closer observation of the myth of Hercules; shows how difficult it was for the oldest inquirers to personify him in every shape; rightly to explain his genealogy, of which eight different accounts are received, namely, the Indian, the Egyptian, the Idaic, the Phoenician, the Greek, the Tyrian, etc. He then shows the origin and meaning of the name,-originally Alcæos, Alcides, allied to Alcis. He relates his history and his expeditions, in which many see a conflict between the sun and the power of nature, others, a veiled historical event. These expe

ditions are to Spain, to Celtiberia, and Germany, to the Alps and Italy, to the north-east and Scythia, and to the Hyperboreans to fetch the golden apples. Hercules spread cultivation and a mild religion, destroyed the doctrine of eternal punishment by dragging Cerberus from the nether world, ascended to heaven through the purification by fire, and endeavoured everywhere to put an end to human sacrifices. As a raw youth, before he liberated Prometheus, and had spoken with Atlas and Chiron, he was the opponent of oracles; but after he became older and more considerate, he was a great philosopher, and showed himself proficient in the Mantic and Dialectic. In the myth of the attempted theft of the Delphic tripod, we see the enemy of oracles, or rather the Hercules, become wise, and comprehending the feeling of the people. Schweigger sees in him the opposite magnetic pole of Apollo, whence he was called the Hyperborean Hercules. Through the release of Prometheus, and the erection of altars, we behold in him the mediator between the old and new faiths. He represents the introduction of the electric power to general usefulness, yet with that mysterious veiling of it in temples, of which there were many, in all countries, dedicated to Hercules. voluntary immolation betokens the ethereal new-birth of men. Like Heracles, he exhibited himself as a religious hero, displaying his might and affinity to the primeval gods,-the primeval powers. He descended into the realm of Pluto as a familiar acquaintance; yet as a shade, -the slumbering magnetic force; he ascended as a spirit to his father Zeus in


Olympus, whither he is conducted by Athene and Hebe. The accomplishing, regulating, and eternally youthful power, receives him in the form of a child, and reconciles him to Hera.

Hercules, says Lucian, did not subject the nations to im by force, but by wisdom and persuasion. He was Alexis, Alexicacos, the turner back of the wicked; Soter, the saviour; Melos Eumelos, the good shepherd; the prophet Manticlos; Daphnephoros, the bearer of laurel, because the chewing of laurel leaves awoke the gift of prophesying. Being obliged to serve, he was the stronghold of servants, and his temple an asylum of slaves. On account of his indomitable strength, he is Adamarnos, the conqueror; he is the terrific and overpowering Titan; he is Astrochiton, the star-clothed, the Lord of Fire; Hippodetos, the tamer of horses, all of which has reference to electricity and magnetism, and by which the images of the Dioscuri are represented. The Sabines named him dius fidius, synonymous with Dioscure. Therefore, he and Mars were held to be the same being; he was, like Apollo, Musagetes; the brother of Persephone: the Chaldæans named the star Mars, Hercules. He was the refuge of mankind, who launched the lightning, more powerful than his father. He was the symbol of the powers of nature; the god of nature, by name Liber, Hercules, Mercury, -as the producer, the all-wise, the omnipotent.

It has been already shown that the mysteries of Samothrace busied themselves pre-eminently with the inquiries into nature. People knew the polarity of the magnet, the attractive and repellent power. The magnet was in Egypt the bone of Horus, and iron that of Typhon. The magnet, Claudian says, is the all-working power, which carries in itself the seed of all things; eclipses of the sun and moon, the phenomena of comets, the tempest of wind, earthquakes, thunder, the rainbow,-all come through its means. is not the simple magnet, it is the law of nature, the living power, which, drawing and repelling, creates and keeps together the parts of the world through which the stars are propelled and whirled round in their courses, while the opposite poles seek each other. The magnet is the symbol of this power, and as it creates and turns the world it pro


duces men. Hymen, the god of marriage, is its son. Production is the highest assertion of the power of magnetism, and this power is Hercules (Clemens Alex. Strom. viii. 704). In India he is Parabrahma Birma, and Vishnu, the centrifugal and centripetal force. Through the poetical elaboration of so many and different elements, of nature and history, of trade and religion, the myth of Hercules receives a manysidedness, and offers points of particular observation at every stage of their interpretation.

That the ancients also understood magnetising by the hands, that is to say, produced the effects which follow touching, rubbing, and laying on of hands, is made manifest sometimes by clearly expressed words, and sometimes by pictures and signs. The Telchini, who were considered as sorcerers and enchanters, seem to have received their names from the word yw,—to stroke, to touch softly, -and not from any place. For under λyw is also understood to stupefy, to put to sleep. This is confirmed by the account of Circe and other enchanters in Homer, and by images and hieroglyphics of antiquity to be seen in Montfauçon, Champollion, and Denon, as well as in the drawings of 750 ancient monuments, statues, engraved stones, coins, and pictures in Millin's Mythologic Gallery, all having reference to magnetic manipulation. In the Cabinet of Curiosities of Athan-Kircher there is, amongst others, a hand adorned with hieroglyphics, which, according to the statement of ancient writers, was carried about in sacris Isidis. In Müller's Monumens de l'art antique, i. livraison, ii. planche, No. 14, the goddess Artemis Leucophryne. Two winged genii hold over the head of the goddess a kind of fan, while the goddess holds two magnetic staves in her hands. Before her are lying two men, one of whom has a magnet in the right hand, and the other appears to have a magnetic ring in the left, with the right stretched towards the magnetic staff. Beneath is the inscription,


There are also other similarities of the ancient myths to the actual phenomena of magnetism, as in the signification and the use of precious stones, the electrical power of which in the finest modifications of the most marvellous phenomena the latest scientific discoveries have only now disclosed. It is,

« PreviousContinue »