The Project Gutenberg eBook of Anthropology and the Classics

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Anthropology and the Classics

Editor: R. R. Marett

Author: Sir Arthur Evans

W. Warde Fowler

F. B. Jevons

Andrew Lang

Gilbert Murray

Sir John Linton Myres

Release date: December 1, 2016 [eBook #53646]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by deaurider, Paul Marshall, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by deaurider, Paul Marshall,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See





[Pg 1]












[Pg 2]
[Pg 3]


Anthropology and the Humanities—on verbal grounds one might suppose them coextensive; yet in practice they divide the domain of human culture between them. The types of human culture are, in fact, reducible to two, a simpler and a more complex, or, as we are wont to say (valuing our own achievements, I doubt not, rightly), a lower and a higher. By established convention Anthropology occupies itself solely with culture of the simpler or lower kind. The Humanities, on the other hand—those humanizing studies that, for us at all events, have their parent source in the literatures of Greece and Rome—concentrate on whatever is most constitutive and characteristic of the higher life of society.

What, then, of phenomena of transition? Are they to be suffered to form a no-man’s-land, a buffer-tract left purposely undeveloped, lest, forsooth, the associates of barbarism should fall foul of the friends of civilization? Plainly, in the cause of science, a pacific penetration must be tolerated, nay, encouraged, from both sides at once. Anthropology must cast forwards, the Humanities cast back. And there is not the slightest reason (unless prejudice be accounted reason) why conflict should arise between the interests thus led to intermingle. [Pg 4]

Indeed, how can there be conflict, when, as in the case of each contributor to the present volume, the two interests in question, Anthropology on this side and Classical Archaeology and Scholarship on that, are the joint concern of one and the same man? Dr. Evans both is a leading authority on prehistoric Europe, and likewise, by restoring the Minoan age to the light of day, has set Greek history in a new and juster perspective. Dr. Lang is an anthropologist of renown, and no one, even amongst his peers, has enriched the science with so many original and fertile hypotheses; nevertheless he has found time (and for how much else has he found time as well!) not only to translate Homer, but also to vindicate his very existence. Professor Murray can turn his rare faculty of sympathetic insight now to the reinterpretation of the music of Euripides, and now to the analysis of the elemental forces that combine and crystallize in the Greek epic. Principal Jevons is famous for his brilliant suggestions in regard to the early history of religion; but he has also laboured in the cause of European archaeology, and his edition of Plutarch’s Romane Questions is very precious to the student of classical antiquities. Professor Myres, whilst he teaches Greek language and literature as the modern man would have them taught, and is a learned archaeologist to boot, yet can have no greater title to our respect than that, of many devoted helpers, he did the most to organize an effective school of Anthropology in the University of Oxford. Finally, Mr. Warde Fowler, living embodiment as he is in the eyes of all his friends of the Humaner Letters, both is the historian of the Graeco-Roman city-state, and can wield the comparative method so as to extort human meaning from ancient Rome’s stately, but somewhat soulless, rites. Unless, then, [Pg 5] dual personality of some dissociated and morbid type is to be attributed to these distinguished men, they can scarcely fail, being anthropologists and humanists at once, to carry on nicely concerted operations from both sides of their subject, just as the clever engineer can set to work on his tunnel from both sides of the mountain.

It is but fair to add, however, that in the present case the first move has been made from the anthropological side. The six lectures composing this volume were delivered during the Michaelmas Term of 1908, at the instance of the Committee for Anthropology, which from the outset of its career has kept steadily in view the need of inducing classical scholars to study the lower culture as it bears upon the higher. Anthropology, to be sure, must often divert its attention to lines of development branching off in many a direction from the track of advance that leads past Athens and Rome. For us, however, and consequently for our science, the latter remains the central and decisive path of social evolution. In short, the general orientation of Anthropology, it would seem, must always be towards the dawn of what Lecky so happily describes as ‘the European epoch of the human mind’.

Lastly, a word may be said in explanation of the title chosen. ‘Anthropology and the Classics’ is exactly suited to express that conjunction of interests of which mention has already been made—the conjunction so perfectly exemplified by the life-work of each contributor to the volume. But some myopic critic might contend that, however well fitted to indicate the scope of the work as a whole, the title hardly applies to this or that essay taken by itself. It surely [Pg 6] matters little if this be so; yet is it so? Dr. Evans’s lecture is introductory. To gather impetus for our imaginative leap into the classical period we start, it is true, from the cave-man, but have already crossed the threshold in arriving at the Cretan. Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus—the claims of these to rank as classics are not likely to be assailed. There remain the Roman subjects, magic and lustration. In what sense are they classical? Now, to use the language of biology, whereas Greek literature is congenital, Roman literature is in large part acquired. Therefore it includes no ‘songs before sunrise’; for it the ‘father of history’ cannot be born again. Spirit no less than form is an importation. In particular, the magico-religious beliefs of Latium have lost their hold on the imitator of Greece and the Orient. Yet primal nature will out; and the Romans, moreover, were a pious people who loved to dwell on their origines. To appreciate the greatest of Latin classics, Virgil—to glance no further afield—one must at least have gained the right to greet him as fellow-antiquary. For the rest, these essays profess to be no more than vindemiatio prima, a first gleaning. When the harvest has been fully gathered in, it will then be time to say, in regard to the classics both of Greece and of Rome, how far the old lives on in the new, how far what the student in his haste is apt to label ‘survival’ stands for a force still tugging at the heart-strings of even the most sophisticated and lordly heir of the ages.

R. R. Marett.

[Pg 7]


The European Diffusion of Primitive Pictography
 and its Bearings on the Origin of Script.
 By A. J. Evans

Homer and Anthropology. By A. Lang 44

The Early Greek Epic. By G. G. A. Murray 66

Graeco-Italian Magic. By F. B. Jevons 93

Herodotus and Anthropology. By J. L. Myres 121

Lustratio. By W. W. Fowler 169

[Pg 8]

[Pg 9]



The idea, formerly prevalent among classical scholars, that, before the introduction of the Phoenician alphabet, there was no developed system of written communication in Ancient Greece, has now fairly broken down. In itself such an assumption shows not only a curious lack of imagination, but a deliberate shutting of the eyes on the evidence supplied by primitive races all over the world.

Was it possible, in view of these analogies, to believe that a form of early culture which reached the stage revealed to us by Schliemann’s discoveries at Mycenae was, from the point of view of written communication, below that of the Red Indians? To myself, at least, it was clear that the apparent lacuna in our knowledge must eventually be supplied. It was with this instinctive assurance that I approached the field of Cretan investigation, and the results of the discoveries in the source and seminary of the Mycenaean culture of Greece have now placed the matter beyond the range of controversy. The clay archives found in the Palace of Knossos and elsewhere have proved that the prehistoric Cretan had already, a thousand years before the appearance of the first written record of Classical Greece, passed through every stage in the evolution of a highly developed system of script. [Pg 10]

There is evidence of a simple pictographic stage, and a conventionalized hieroglyphic system growing out of it. And there is evidence in them of the evolution out of these earlier elements of a singularly advanced type of linear script of which two inter-related forms are known.

A detailed account of these fully equipped forms of writing that thus arose in the Minoan world will be given elsewhere.[1] For the moment I would rather have you regard these first-fruits of literary produce in European soil in their relation to the tree of very ancient growth and of spreading roots and branches that thus, in the fullness of time, put them forth. I refer to the primitive picture- and sign-writing that was diffused throughout the European area and the bordering Mediterranean region from immemorial antiquity.

In attempting a general survey of the various provinces—if we may use the word—in which the remains of this ancient pictography are distributed, it is necessary in the first instance to direct attention to one so remote in time and circumstances that it may almost be legitimately regarded as belonging to an older world.

I refer to the remarkable evidence of the employment of pictographic figures and signs, and even of some so worn by use that they can only be described as ‘alphabetiform’, among the wall-paintings and engravings of the ‘Reindeer Period’—to use the term in its widest general signification. [Pg 11]


Fig. 1. Stalking Aurochs.

The whole cycle of designs by the cave-dwellers of the late Palaeolithic periods may, to a very large extent, be described as ‘picture-writing’ in the more general sense of the word. The drawings and carvings of reindeer and bisons, or more dangerous animals, such as the mammoth, the cave bear, and lion, doubtless commemorated personal experiences. In one case, at any rate, the naked man stalking an aurochs, engraved on a reindeer horn, we have an actual record of the chase.

But over and above this more elaborate kind of picture story, the mass of new materials—due in a principal degree to the patient researches of Messieurs Cartailhac, Capitan, the Abbé Breuil, and the late M. Piette—have thrown quite a new light on the development of pictography among the late Palaeolithic peoples. Such a series of polychrome wall-paintings as have been discovered in the great Cave of Altamira near Santander, in Spain—paralleled by those found in the Grotte de Marsoulas and elsewhere on the French side of the Pyrenees, with their brilliant colouring and chiaroscuro, present this primaeval art under quite new aspects. Moreover the superposition of one painting or [Pg 12] engraving over another on the walls of the caverns has supplied fresh and valuable evidence as to the succession of the various phases of this ‘parietal’ art. We have to deal with almost inexhaustible palimpsests.

What is of special interest, however, in the present connexion, is that, side by side with the larger or more complete representations, there appear, in the lowest layer of these rock palimpsests, abbreviated figures and linear signs which already at times present a truly alphabetiform character.

Here we have the evidence of a gradual advance from simpler to more elaborate forms. On the other hand, the converse process, the gradual degeneration of more pictorial forms into their shorthand, linearized equivalents, can often be traced in the series of these representations. The Abbé Breuil, for instance, has recently published a series of tables showing the progressive degeneration and stylization of the heads of horses, goats, deer and oxen.[2] Without subscribing to his views in all their details, it is evident that this derivative series, as a whole, can be clearly made out. The abbreviation of the oxheads in Fig. 2 is fairly clear up to No. 12, though whether the further procession is to be traced in the spiraliform signs that follow may be more open to doubt. It is worth noting that a curious parallel to these very ancient examples of the degeneration of the ox’s head is to be found among the Cretan and Cypriote signs of the Minoan and Mycenaean Age. [Pg 13]


Fig. 2.

But the course followed by evolution of figured representations during the ‘Reindeer Period’ leads to another result, which also has parallels in the history of later art, but which does not seem to be so generally recognized. The degeneration, illustrated by Fig. 2, of more or less complete figures into mere linear reminiscences, is very familiar to us. It is well illustrated, for instance, in the relation of the demotic and hieratic Egyptian signs to the hieroglyphic. But what is sometimes forgotten is that the simple linear forms are sometimes the older, and that, even as, I think, can be shown in the case of some of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, the linearization of the pictorial form was merely a going back to what had really been the original form of the figure. I have also been struck with the same phenomenon in tracing the genesis of some of the hieroglyphic characters of Minoan Crete. We have only to look at the rude attempts of children to depict objects to see that simple linear forms of what may perhaps be called the ‘slate pencil’ style precedes the more elaborate stage of drawing. Art begins with skeletons, and it is only a gradual proficiency that clothes them with flesh and blood. [Pg 14]


Fig. 3.

So it seems to have been with the Reindeer men. It has already been noticed that the stratigraphy of the paintings and engravings on the Cairoan walls, as investigated by the Abbé Breuil, shows that those of the earliest phase were line sketches of the simplest kind.[3] They are just such as a child might draw. They seem often to have been left incomplete from mere laziness, just so much of the figure being given as to enable its identification. No. 9, for instance, in the table given in Fig. 3, is a mere outline of the front of a mammoth’s head, [Pg 15] even the tusks and eye being omitted. No. 2 shows only a little more of a bison’s head. The eye at the beginning of the table seems to be human, and may be the ideograph of the individual who drew it. Besides these recognizable sketches there are other linear representations of the slightest kind, but which, there can be little doubt, conveyed a definite meaning to those who drew them. Of these a certain number, moreover, are purely alphabetiform in character. There is an X, an L, a T upside down, and they have learned to dot their i’s.

It is strange, indeed, that in the very infancy of its art mankind should have produced the elemental figures which the most perfected alphabetic systems have simply repeated. The elements of advanced writing were indeed there, but the time had not yet come when their real value could be recognized. It has only been after the lapse of whole aeons of time, through the gradual decay and conventionalization of a much more elaborate pictography, that civilized mankind reverted to these ‘beggarly elements’, and literature was born. Yet it is well to remember that the pre-existence of this old family of linear figures, and their survival or re-birth, the world over, as simple signs and marks, were always thus at hand to exercise a formative influence. There may well have been a tendency for the decayed elements of pictographic or hieroglyphic writing to assimilate themselves with such standard linear types.

It is certain that groups of singularly alphabetiform figures appear at times associated with the handiwork of the ‘Reindeer Period’. A good example of such a group is seen on the flank of a bison, painted in red [Pg 16] and black on a wall of the Marsoulas Cave[4] (Fig. 4). Another curious group shows examples of the constantly recurring pectiform or comb-shaped figure. Others have been taken to represent the roof of some kind of hut. The only human sign is an open hand, which may be regarded as identical with the prototype of the Phoenician ‘kaph’, the ‘palus’ sign—our k. In its pictographic form it is found among the Cretan hieroglyphs, and a linearized version identical with ‘kaph’ recurs among the Minoan linear characters.

In Fig. 5[5] are collected some specimens of signs or symbolic figures from the Cave of Castillo, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, showing amongst others the ‘hand’ and some figures which may represent hats. A remarkable group of three alphabetiform signs occurs on a fragment of reindeer-horn discovered by M. Piette in the Cave of Gourdan.[6] One of these shows a great resemblance to an A or Aleph. A harpoon of reindeer-horn, again, from La Madeleine,[7] shows a group of eight linear signs, among which we may detect, however, several repetitions.

In the face of these and similar examples, are we to conclude with the late M. Piette[8] that there was a regular alphabetic script during the Pleistocene period, which in turn had been preceded by a hieroglyphic system?


Fig. 4.

[Pg 17]


Fig. 5.

The artistic achievements of the men of the Reindeer Period attained such a high level that even such a conclusion could hardly excite surprise. In their portrayal of animal forms—in their power of seizing the characteristic attitude of the creature represented—they show themselves on a level with those later ‘Minoan’ artists of prehistoric Crete and Greece who produced such masterpieces as the wild goat and kids or the bull-hunt on the Vaphio Cups. We now know that the Minoan race had also a highly developed form of linear script. Might not their remote predecessors on European soil have evolved the same?


Fig. 6.

That they had sufficient intellectual capacity to evolve a system of writing, can hardly be doubted. There were, no doubt, some inferior elements among the population of the Reindeer Period. It is possible that certain low cranial types of the Neanderthal class may have [Pg 18] survived till late Pleistocene times; and the stratified remains, for instance, of the Grotte des Enfants at Grimaldi, near Mentone, show that its occupation by scions of a fine proto-European race—akin to the ‘men of Cro-Magnon’—alternated during a certain time with occupation by a race of negroid intruders presenting characteristics as low as those of the Australian black men.[9] But the prevailing type of skull associated with the interments in the Mentone Caves—those of men with upright jaw and finely cut nose—struck no less competent an observer than Sir E. Ray Lankester as exhibiting a perfection of development and a cranial capacity worthy to be compared with those of civilized Europeans of the present day.

We must, however, still remember that, whatever the intellectual capacity of these archaic people, they did not possess that heirloom of the Ages, the accumulated experience of the later races of mankind. Art, indeed, seems to have come to them by nature, and they had other germs of civilization—an incipient cult of the dead, some taste for personal ornament. They were possessed of a variety of arms and implements of stone and bone and other materials. They could kindle fire and even mitigate the darkness of their subterranean vaults with primitive stone lamps. They seem to have been skilful trappers, and had even learned to bridle the horse. Yet many of the most simple acquirements of primitive culture were still unknown to them. They knew neither the potter’s nor the weaver’s, nor the husbandman’s craft. They went mother-naked, and their principal dwellings were the caves and dens of the earth. [Pg 19]

This is emphatically not a people to be credited with an advanced form of script. It seems more probable that the groups of linear signs that occur should rather be regarded as mnemonic symbols, and the mere isolated characters perhaps as individual marks. Some, it may be, had acquired a magical value. A mnemonic series may be paralleled by the well-known example of a mnemonic song of an Ojibway medicine-man, in which every sign suggests a whole order of ideas.

It is noteworthy that among the more abbreviated representations from the hands of the men of the Reindeer Period the human figure is little brought into play, though the eye and hand do occur. In general, moreover, we see little of the reaction of gesture language on their pictorial records. In a scene from the walls of the Cave of Les Combarelles,[10] however, a male figure is depicted with a hand raised, and the other held straight out—evidently representing some expressive utterance of gesture language (Fig. 7). [Pg 20]

Another good instance of a gesture occurs among the strange anthropoid figures with animal profiles, which, nevertheless, Messieurs Cartailhac and Breuil consider to represent human subjects masked or travestied.[11] On the roof of the hall of the Altamira Cave is one of these quasi-human subjects, with the arms raised, with open palms in front of its head, an attitude on which its discoverers justly remark: ‘It is impossible to overlook the analogy of this gesture with that which throughout all antiquity and amongst nearly all peoples indicates supplication or prayer.’[12] As a sign of adoration it has given rise to the Egyptian hieroglyphic Ka.


Fig. 7.

[Pg 21] Had the men of the Reindeer Period a fully developed speech in addition to this gesture language? That they had the elements of such, of course, stands to reason. Mere animal cries and what may be called ‘voice signs’ might have carried them far, nor would it be possible to say at what point the transition from such primitive methods of oral communication to what might legitimately be called articulate speech was overpassed.

But there are at least some weighty reasons for doubting whether this higher stage was really attained by Palaeolithic man. In North America, which, like other parts of that continent, seems to have received its first human settlers at a comparatively late geological date, a considerable amount of physical conformity is perceptible among the Red Indian tribes. But we are confronted by the significant fact that this racial unity is nevertheless compatible with the existence of a multiplicity of native tongues. It has been observed that the number of known stocks or families of Indian languages in the United States amounts to over three score, differing among themselves ‘as radically as each differs from Hebrew, Chinese, or English’.[13] In each of these linguistic families, again, there are several—sometimes as many as twenty—separate languages, which differ again from each other as much as do the various divisions of the ‘Aryan’ group. [Pg 22]

But if the original forefathers of these tribes had brought with them a fully developed articulate speech, is it conceivable that the languages of their descendants should be so radically different? This phenomenon, moreover, is thrown into further relief by the fact that when we turn to the signs and gestures current among the Red Indian tribes we find a large common element.

It may be that the very deficiencies in articulate speech which we may justly assume to have existed during the Reindeer Period gave a spur to other means of personal intercommunication. Not only would the infancy of speech promote the use of gestures, but it may have powerfully contributed towards diffusing the practice of making pictorial records.[14] The possibility, therefore, does not seem to be excluded that men drew before they talked.

Nothing in itself is more baseless than the idea that oral language is necessary for the expression of abstract ideas. The case of deaf-mutes, who without the aid of speech can give expression to the most complicated ideas, affords an example of this in the midst of a civilized society. The study of gesture-language enables us to see how easy and natural is the process by which the expression of abstract ideas grows out of the imitation of concrete objects. Take the very word to ‘grow’. An Indian expresses the notion of a tree by holding the right hand before his body, back forwards, with the fingers spread out—the fingers, as it were, representing branches, and his wrist the trunk; to show that it is high he pushes it slightly upwards. For grass he holds his hand with the fingers upwards in the sense of blades, near the ground. In order to express the general idea ‘to grow’ he begins as in the sign for grass, but instead of keeping his hand near the ground, [Pg 23] pushes it upward in an uninterrupted manner.[15] So, too, to express falsehood he places his index and second fingers so that they separate in front of his mouth, in order to indicate a double tongue. For truth he places his index finger only in front, to show, if we may use the expression, that he is ‘single-tongued’.

Root elements of gesture language, which as a means of communication preceded the development of articulate language as opposed to mere emotional cries, seem themselves to be almost universal. And picture-writing—the sister mode of expression—has also, as we see from the example of the American Continent, even in some of its more conventional developments, an immeasurably wider currency than the comparatively recent growths of oral communication. In China, amongst a great variety of mutually unintelligible languages and dialects, the ideographic characters, which are really conventionalized pictures, and independent of oral equivalents, supply to a great extent the place both of gesture and spoken language. The Red Indian world, as we have seen, is a Babel of disconnected languages, but the old sign-language is the same, and the picture-language of one tribe is generally intelligible to another.

The great uniformity of simple gestures in all countries of the world is thus a cause predisposing to a considerable amount of uniformity among the pictorial signs into which this element enters. If we take, for instance, that pathetic monument of picture writing, the well-known [Pg 24] rock-painting of the Tule River in California, we see a series of human figures with outstretched hands, signifying, in the American gesture-language, ‘Nothing here.’ Two outstretched arms, by themselves, appear in the sense of negation among the conventionalized Maya pictographs of Yucatan,[16] and the sign reappears in the same abbreviated form, and with the same meaning, among Egyptian hieroglyphs. So, too, the ideograph of a child or son—an infant sucking its thumb—is found alike in ancient Egypt, China, and North America.

Gesture language, in fact, is constantly reacting on the pictographic method of expression, and may be said to supply it with moods and tenses even without the aid of words.

It must, nevertheless, be borne in mind that simple pictography, whether or not aided by gesture language, is one thing. The evolution of a regular script is quite another matter. [Pg 25]


Fig. 8.

[Pg 26] A conventionalized system of writing can only be thought of in connexion with a highly developed articulate speech. And this was certainly the achievement of a later world than that of these old Palaeolithic hunters. The physical condition now changes. The characteristic fauna of the Reindeer Period disappears, and with it the remarkable race to whom were due the first known products of high art. The close of the Pleistocene Age and the beginning of the New Era is marked in France by a curious deposit in the Cave of Mas d’Azil, on the left bank of the Arize, in which its explorer, M. Piette, found a number of flat oblong pebbles marked with red stripes and simple figures by means of peroxide of iron.[17] M. Piette has endeavoured to trace in some of these a definite system of numeration by means of lines and circles, and even particular signs for a thousand, ten thousand, and a million. That some of these represent simple numerical markings is possible, but beyond this point it is impossible to follow M. Piette. Among the other markings are several, sometimes repeated on the same pebble, of curiously alphabetiform aspect. Among these are signs resembling our E, F, and L, a Gothic M, the Greek Theta, Gamma, Epsilon, Xi and Sigma, the Phoenician Cheth, and some terms that occur in the Minoan and Cypriote series.

The occurrence of this series of geometrical marks must be regarded as another proof of how early such alphabetic prototypes originated. The Mas d’Azil series has no particular connexion with the linear signs associated with the handiwork of the Reindeer Period. Their meaning is obscure. Some may be degraded pictographs, often perhaps of animals or their parts, with a traditional meaning attached to them. Some may be of purely individual and arbitrary invention. The numbers on the pebbles have suggested the view that they may have served for games. On the other hand, it is by no means improbable that the figures had a magic value, and Mr. A. B. Cook[18] has called attention to the parallel presented by the Australian deposits of pebbles called Churingas, connected with the departed spirits of a tribe, and having designs of a totemic character. It is [Pg 27] certain that the people who produced these coloured pebbles were in a rude state of barbarism far below the gifted race who had preceded them in the same sheltering cavern. Few will probably be able to follow M. Piette in discerning in these rudely executed marks actual letters—at any rate with a syllabic value—and the true ancestors of the Greek and Phoenician alphabets, or in regarding the Cave of Mas d’Azil ‘as one vast school where the scholars learnt to read, to reckon, to write, and to know the religious symbols of the solar god’.

The deposit of Mas d’Azil containing the coloured pebbles belongs already to the modern world, the fauna associated with it all belonging to existing species inhabiting the temperate regions. The rude culture then exhibited heralds the beginning of the Neolithic Period. This later Stone Age is not characterized by any of the artistic genius displayed by the men of the Reindeer Period. Figured representations are now rare. The caves, moreover, which preserved the earlier records, were now used more for sepulture than habitation. Yet the analogy of all primitive races at the present day shows that it would be a mistake to suppose that, though the act may have been rude, the practice of picture-writing was not still universally in vogue throughout the European area. We have to bear in mind how many of such records are consigned to perishable materials—such as bark or hides, or in the case of tattooing the human body itself. [Pg 28]

During the later prehistoric times, and notably during the Early Metal Age, many abiding records, in the shape of rock-sculptures, paintings, and engravings, and at times graffiti on pottery, are found diffused throughout the whole of our Continent and the adjoining Mediterranean area; and in outlying regions, such as Lapland, the practice of picture-writing can be traced down to modern times.


Fig. 9.

Though a large amount of isolated materials exists on this subject, the evidence, so far as I am aware, has never been put together in a systematic manner. Yet it seems possible that, by means of a due co-ordination of the materials and the application of the comparative method, the European area may eventually be divided into distinct zones or provinces, each characterized by its certain typical pictographic feature. Primitive lines of intercommunication may with great probability be made out, and evidences of early racial extension come to light by this method of investigation.

It is interesting to observe that it is in the extreme north of Europe, where the conditions most approach those of the Reindeer Period, that purely pictographic methods have remained the longest. The Lapp troll drums, used as a means of divination by the native shamans, show a variety of linear figures and symbols which had a traditional interpretation. Thus in the simple example given in Fig. 9, taken from Scheffer’s Lapponia,[19] we see, in the upper compartment, according to the interpretation preserved [Pg 29] by Scheffer, four Lapp gods, with rayed heads, one of them identified with the Norsk Thor, above which are the crescent moon, twelve stars, indicated by crossed lines, and seven flying birds—resembling the simplification of the same figures seen in the Cretan linear script.

On another base are three more sacred figures with rayed heads, signifying Christ and two apostles, taken into the Lapp Pantheon at a somewhat lower level. The centre of this compartment is occupied by the sun, and about the field are depicted a reindeer, wolf, bear, ox, fox, squirrel, and snake. To the right are three wavy lines representing a lake and exactly reproducing the Egyptian hieroglyph of ‘water’.

Fig. 10 shows a more elaborate example,[20] of which the interpretation has not been supplied. The variation of gesture displayed, somewhat rudely it is true, by the various figures on this drum illustrates the intimate and ever-recurring connexion between pictography and gesture-language.

These Lapp troll drums must have been generally in use till the end of the seventeenth century. It was not, indeed, till the middle of the succeeding century that Christianity took a real hold on the population. That there has been a considerable survival of surreptitious heathenism among the Lapps, I myself was able to ascertain during two journeys undertaken with that object through Finnish and Russian Lapland in 1874, and again in 1876. It was specially interesting to observe that some of the traditional figures seen on the old troll drums are still engraved on the reindeer-horn spoons of that region. [Pg 30]


Fig. 10.

[Pg 31]


Fig. 11.

[Pg 32] The troll drums of the Lapps find their analogy in those of the kindred Samojed tribes to the East, which present figures of the same class. But the pictographs on these will be found to fit on to the rock-carvings or petroglyphs of Siberia, first described by Strahlenberg, of which a specimen is given in Fig. 12.[21] Similar rock carvings may be traced through a vast Finno-Ugrian or Mongolian region to the borders of China, and the Chinese characters themselves must have arisen from a branch of the same great Northern family.

This Finno-Tataric province of primitive pictography touches the Atlantic in Northern Norway. In the south of the Scandinavian Peninsula we have numerous examples of picture-writing in the shape of carving,[22] mainly belonging to the Bronze Age, either on rocks or on the slabs of sepulchral barrows. Of the latter class are the well-known examples from the Cairn of Kivik, on the east coast of Scania, and the rock-carvings extend through Southern Norway and Denmark. The most remarkable of all are probably those of Bohuslan, of which an example, in which ships figure largely, is shown in Fig. 13.[23] [Pg 33]


Fig. 12.

[Pg 34] In our own islands there is also evidence during the Bronze Age of the practice of engraving signs and pictographic figures on rocks and the slabs of sepulchral cists and chambers. Those found in England and Scotland consist for the most part of mere geometrical figures, such as concentric circles with connecting lines, the more elaborate figures found in the Fife Caves,[24] for example, certainly belonging to the Late Celtic Period. But in Ireland, then raised, by its abundant output of gold, to the position of a Western Eldorado, the field of primitive pictography is richer. The slabs of the chambered tumuli of Sleive-na-Calligha present groups of elaborate figures;[25] but a special interest attaches to those discernible in the great chambered barrow of New Grange. As was pointed out by Mr. Coffey,[26] one of the principal figures here carved represents in a degraded form a ship with its crew analogous to those so constantly repeated in the Scandinavian group (Fig. 14). This coincidence becomes the more suggestive when we recall the existence of a whole series of finds showing a connexion between Ireland and Denmark and its neighbour-lands during the Bronze Age.

These parallels extend to Brittany. The rocks and sepulchral slabs of the old Armoric region also present, as is well known, a considerable pictographic material, dating from Neolithic and Early Metal Ages. Among recently discovered remains of this class may be mentioned a group of curious inscribed rocks near Saint-Aubin in Vendée,[27] the carvings on which seem to show some analogy with the menhirs of the Aveyron, the dolmens of the Gard, and the caves of the Marne. On these, besides conventionalized linear figures of men and animals, occur a variety of unexplained signs, some of them of a remarkably alphabetiform character.


Fig. 13.


Fig. 14.

[Pg 35]


Fig. 15.

It is among the sculptured slabs of the Morbihan dolmens that we find the immediate pendant to the ship signs of Ireland and Scandinavia. On slabs of the chambered barrow of Manné Lud, near Locmariaker, there appears—beside stone axes, hafted and unhafted, and other figures—what is evidently the same ship sign as that of New Grange, in various stages of degeneration, finally resulting in simple crescents with recurved ends (Fig. 16).[28] It is true that the associations of these Breton dolmens end with the close of the Neolithic period, but the archaeological evidence shows that this was overlapped by the Early Metal Age of Ireland. [Pg 36]


Fig. 16.

[Pg 37] South of the Pyrenees similar records of primitive pictography largely associated again in this case with the builders of dolmens and chambered barrows extend through a large part of the Iberian Peninsula. Some stir was recently made by the reported discovery of characters on the slabs and content of certain Portuguese dolmens of Traz-os-Montes,[29] which were supposed to constitute a kind of alphabet or syllabary. The accounts of these discoveries, however, lack scientific precision, and though many of the characters found are certainly of alphabetiform type, there can be no doubt that these, together with the rude zoomorphic figures with which they are associated, belong to a much simpler stage of graphic expression.


Fig. 17.

In the south of Spain the chain of evidence is continued by the ‘Written Stones’ of Andalusia. The signs here are often painted in red, in a rude manner, on the slabs of megalithic structures, such as the Piedra Escrita near Fuencaliente,[30] (Figs. 17, 18). The signs include a variety of men and animals, symbols of [Pg 38] the heavenly bodies, trees, arms, and implements, and other objects. Amongst some curious analogies that they present with the contemporary pictographs of Northern and North-Western Europe, may be noticed certain figures that resemble linear degenerations of the Ship and Crew sign (see Fig. 17).


Fig. 18.

The Andalusian pictographs find their continuation beyond the straits in another widely diffused group of ‘Written Stones’, the Hadjrat Mektoubat[31] of the Arabs, extending through Algeria and Morocco into the Saharan region and along the Atlantic littoral to the Canaries.[32]


Fig. 19.

[Pg 39] To return to the European shores of the Mediterranean, a remarkable group of prehistoric rock-carvings already known in mediaeval times as the Maraviglie, or ‘Marivels’,[33] is found near the Col di Tenda in the Maritime Alps—in the neighbourhood, that is, of a very old line of communication between Provence and the Po Valley. The earliest known groups of these figures lay at an elevation of between 7,000 and 8,000 feet about the Laghi delle Maraviglie, in the heart of Monte Bego.[34] More recently a still more extensive series has been discovered by Mr. Clarence Bicknell, cut like the others in the glaciated schist rocks and at a similar lofty elevation in the neighbouring Val di Fontanalba.[35] I have myself visited a more outlying group at Orco Feglino[36] in the Finalese, only a few miles from the Ligurian coast.

These figures, of which examples are given in Figs. 19 and 20, represent oxen, often engaged in ploughing, and men in various positions, sometimes brandishing weapons and apparently signalling, and a variety of arms, implements, and other objects. Among the weapons, the halberds and daggers are characteristic of the earlier part of the Bronze Age,[37] and it is noteworthy that the sword which characterized the later phase of that culture is entirely absent. The figures of the oxen ploughing are depicted as if seen from above—a circumstance explained by the way in which these rock terraces look down on the cultivated lands below.[38] Many of these oxen are conventionalized to such an extent that they have rather the appearance of rude figures of scorpions or beetles with tails. [Pg 40]

The same figures are often repeated in the schist slopes, and we have not here such connected groups as we see, for instance, on the sculptured slabs of Scandinavia. The picture-signs of the Maraviglie had perhaps a votive intention. It seems to me that some of the figures may represent packs, and that merchants as well as warriors and tillers of the soil took part in their representations.

The records of primitive pictography extend to the Vosges and Jura, and reappear east of the Adriatic. In a fiord of the Bocche di Cattaro, not far from the site of Rhisinium, the capital of the old Illyrian kingdom, my own explorations were rewarded by the discovery of a curious group of painted signs on a rock-face above a sacred grotto, and in a somewhat inaccessible position. They consisted mainly of animals and varieties of the swastika sign. That they were of pre-Christian date may be regarded as certain, but a fuller investigation of them at my own hands was cut short by force majeure.

Up to the present the old pictography of the lands between the Adriatic and the Black Sea and the lower Danubian basin is best illustrated by the linear incised figures found on the primitive pottery of that region. The best collection of such signs is due to the researches of Fräulein Torma, at Broos, in Transylvania. In view of the ethnic and archaeological connexions which are shown to have existed between the lower Danubian regions and the western part of Asia, it is specially interesting to note the analogies that these Transylvanian graffiti present with those noted by Schliemann on the whorls and pottery of Hissarlik (Fig. 21).[39] Both groups, moreover, belong approximately to the same epoch, marked by the transition from the Neolithic to the Early Metal Age.


Fig. 20.

[Pg 41]


Fig. 21.

That many of these signs are linearistic degenerations of animal and other figures is clear, and such figures may be reasonably considered to have an ideographic sense. But from this to investing the marks on a primitive whorl or pot with a definite phonetic value, and proceeding to read them off by the aid of the Cypriote syllabary of the Greek language as it existed some two thousand years later, can only be described as a far cry. Linearized signs of altogether alphabetic appearance belong, as already shown, to the very beginnings of human culture. In the case of the whorls, moreover, many of the linear figures are really repetitions of similar marks due to the decay of a border pattern—a phenomenon already paralleled by some of the engraved groups of the Reindeer Period. A recurring decorative fragment of this kind somewhat resembles, according to the progressive stages of its decadence, the Cypriote go, ti, or re—a circumstance productive of readings by eminent scholars[40] containing vain repetitions of go go, ti ti, and re re. [Pg 42]

If we turn to Crete, the source of the developed pre-Phoenician scripts of Greece and the Aegean world, we find evidence of the same primitive stratum of linearized pictography. But the true hieroglyphic script, in which the phonetic element is apparently already present, in addition to the ideographic, displays other features which lie beyond the scope of our present theme. In the advanced linear scripts which grow out of this, and which certainly have a largely phonetic basis, we mark a regularity of arrangement and a definite setting forth of word-groups altogether different from the phenomena presented by the elemental figures of primitive pictography. The Phoenician and later Greek alphabet carries us a step further.

But the conventionalized pictography of Crete, if it does not give us the actual source of the later Phoenician letters, at least supplies the best illustration of the elements out of which it was evolved. And it will be seen, from what has been already said, that the more primitive field of pictography, out of which this conventionalized Cretan system arose, is itself only a branch of a widely diffused European family of picture-writing, of which the records can be traced from Lapland to the Straits of Gibraltar, and from the Atlantic to the Aegean, and which finds again its continuation on the African and the Asiatic side.

There seems to be a kind of hazy notion that though an elaborate system of pictography may have been current among the American Indians, for example, the alphabet, or for that matter the Cretan script, came to Greece as a kind of gift of the gods, and was taken over by a population that had no graphic means of communication. It is true that [Pg 43] the earlier records of such, owing to their having been largely on perishable materials, such as bark or hides, may in many cases be irrecoverable. But we may be sure that they existed throughout the Aegean lands, as elsewhere. Nay, it was because they not only existed, but had already reached a comparatively advanced stage, that the acceptation of such a highly developed system of writing as that of the Phoenician alphabet was rendered possible. Even the forms of the letters must themselves have been largely familiar, since, as we have seen, the use of the linearized signs of the purest alphabetiform character goes back to what in many respects must be regarded as another world, and to a time, it may be, when articulate language was itself but imperfectly developed.

[Pg 44]


In B. R.’s Elizabethan translation of the two first books of Herodotus a marginal note to a startling statement about Egyptian manners begs us to ‘Observe ye Beastly Devices of ye Heathen’. Though Anthropology, as its name indicates, takes all that is human for its province, it certainly pays most attention to ‘Ye Devices’—beastly or not—of the savage or barbarian, and to their survival in civilized societies, ancient and modern. Now, as far as these primaeval devices go, Homer has wonderfully little to tell us. Though he is by far the most ancient Greek author extant, it is in all the literature which follows after him that we find most survivals of the barbarian and the savage. Even in the few fragments of the so-called Cyclic poets (800-650 b.c.?), and in the sketches of the plots of the Cyclic poems which have reached us, there are survivals of barbaric customs—for example, of human sacrifice, and the belief in phantasms of the dead, even when the dead have been properly burned and buried—which do not appear in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The tragedians, the lyric poets, and the rest, all allude to vices which Homer never mentions—to amours of the gods in bestial forms (in all probability a survival of Totemism in myth), to a revolting rite of sanguinary purification from the guilt of homicide, and to many other distressing vestiges of savagery and barbarism in the society of ancient Greece. We do not find these things in the Iliad and the Odyssey. [Pg 45]

It is not easily conceivable that Homer was ignorant of any of these things; probably they existed in certain strata of society in his age. But he ignores them. They are not to be mentioned to his audience. No incest or cannibalism, in Iliad and Odyssey, is reported concerning ‘Atreus’ line’, though later poets do not hesitate to use the traditional materials from the fossiliferous strata of myth wherein these survivals were plentiful. Pindar knew tales of divine cannibalism, but merely referred to them as unworthy of his verse. Homer must have been familiar with the savage cosmogonic legends, almost identical with those of the Maori of New Zealand, which Hesiod does not scruple to state openly; but about such things Homer is silent.

Here I must explain that though to ‘Homer’ early historic Greece attributed the great body of ancient epic poetry, I am speaking only of the Iliad and Odyssey. I wish I could keep clear of the complex ‘Homeric Question’, but this is hardly possible. Everybody knows that, since the appearance of Wolf’s famous Prolegomena to the Iliad, at the end of the eighteenth century, the world has been of opposite opinions as to the origin of the Iliad and Odyssey. Poets, and almost all who read the poems, as other literature is read, ‘for human pleasure,’ hold that at least the mass of these epics is by one hand, and, of course, is of one age. On the other side, the immense majority of scholars and special students who have written on the subject maintain (with endless differences in points of detail) that the [Pg 46] Iliad and Odyssey had their beginning in a brief early ‘kernel’, and are now a mosaic of added lays and interpolations, contributed by many hands, in many places, through at least four changeful centuries of various cultures. How the poems came to have what even Wolf recognized as their unus color, the harmony of their picture of institutions, customs, rites, costume, and belief, is variously explained. By some critics the harmony is denied. They try to pick out proofs of many various stages in institutions, customs, beliefs, arms, and armour, and so forth. As a rule these critics, however scholarly, have not been, and are not, comparative students of early literature, of anthropology, archaeology, and mythology. Their microscopic research finds but few and minute variations from the normal in such things as burial, bride-price, houses, armour, and so forth. If they studied other early poetic literature—say the Icelandic sagas and the oldest Irish romances—they would learn that minute variations in such matters of life occur in every stage of civilization; that every house, every funeral, every detail of marriage laws and other laws, is not precisely on the pattern of every other, and that mythology and ideas about the future life are especially various and even self-contradictory, at any given period. For these reasons I agree with Wolf that harmony, unus color, prevails in the Iliad and Odyssey, which must therefore be the product of one age.

But to this some adverse critics reply that harmony, indeed, there may be, but that it results, first from the influence of tradition—each new poet adhered to the old formulae without conscious effort—and, next, that the later poets deliberately and learnedly archaized, [Pg 47] consciously studied the descriptions, and maintained the tone of their predecessors, while at the same time they as deliberately introduced the novelties of their own time. This is their logic. Their double theory is untenable—first, because it is self-contradictory; next, because in all known early art and literature the poet or painter, treating ancient themes, dresses the past in the costume of the present with which he is familiar. To archaize is a very modern effort in art, as all early literature and every large picture-gallery prove. As for unconscious adherence to tradition, it leads to the repetition of epic formulae and standing epithets; but later poets, and uncritical ages, when they describe a more ancient life, always copy the life of their own time. We see too that late learned poets who archaized—Apollonius Rhodius, Virgil, even Quintus Smyrnaeus—while they do their best to imitate Homer, cannot keep up the unus color, but betray themselves in a myriad details: for example, Virgil arms his Greeks and Trojans with iron weapons, and Apollonius introduces the ritual purification of blood with blood, ignored by Homer.

Even in the Cyclic poems, of which only a few fragments and prose synopses remain, Helbig, and Monro, and every reader, find what Helbig calls ‘data absolutely opposed to the conventional style of the Epics’, of the Iliad and Odyssey. We find hero-worship, human sacrifice, gods making love in bestial forms, conspicuous ghosts of men duly burned, and so on. Now, if we believe with Mr. Verrall that ‘Homer’, so called, was a nebulous mass of old poetry, reduced into distinct bodies, such as Iliad, Odyssey, Cypria, Aethiopis, [Pg 48] Little Iliad, Nostoi, and so on, for educational purposes, by learned Athenians, about 600-500 b.c., or if we suppose, with others, that the Ionians, for educational purposes, Bowdlerized Iliad and Odyssey, at an earlier date, we ask, Why were Iliad and Odyssey expurgated; why were many ‘devices of the heathen’ cut out of them by ‘educationists’ who permitted these things to remain in the Cyclic poems? Was it because the Iliad and Odyssey alone were cut out of the mass, and selected for public recitation? If so, why was the selection made, and the expurgation done, in these two cases only? And do we know that the Cyclics were not recited? If so, why not? What was the use of them? Again, why was Hesiod not Bowdlerized? Hesiod certainly entered into public knowledge no less than Homer. Finally, if the taste of the seventh and sixth centuries were so pure and austere, why were the poets of the seventh and sixth centuries so rich in matters which the Iliad and Odyssey omit? In no Greek literature of any age do we find the clean austerity of Homer, for example, as regards sins against nature, the permanent blot on the civilization of historic Greece. The theory of educational expurgation in the eighth to the sixth centuries is impossible on all sides. The Cyclics and Hesiod were generally known, yet were not expurgated into harmony with the Homeric tone; the contemporary poets of these educational ages did not conform to the Homeric tone. Moreover, there is no ‘record’ evidence, with Mr. Verrall’s pardon, for all this editing by educationists. There is no inscription bearing witness to it—that, and that alone, would be ‘record’—there is only a late and shifting tradition that, about [Pg 49] the time between the ages of Solon and the Pisistratidae, something indefinite was done at Athens for ‘Homer’. For how much of ‘Homer’? For all old epic poetry, or only for the Iliad and Odyssey? If for them alone, why for them alone?

I am thus constrained to suppose that the Iliad and the Odyssey, on the whole, are the fruit of a single age, a peculiar age, an age prior to the earliest period of Greek life as historically known to us. If it be not so, if these epics are mosaics of life in four or five centuries of change, compiled for purposes of education by learned Athenians, it seems that they are worthless to the anthropologist and to the historical student of manners and institutions. If the poems contain scores of archaized passages, in which the poets deliberately neglect the life which they know (while at the same time in other passages they deliberately innovate), then the poems are of no anthropological value. The statements of the critics are self-contradictory, which I still think proves them to be illogical; and in speaking of Homer I shall treat him as a witness to a genuine stage of society in prehistoric Greece and Asia.

As to date, the poems quite undeniably are derived from that late stage of Mycenaean or Minoan civilization which has been revealed by the excavations of Mr. Arthur Evans in Crete, and Dr. Schliemann at Mycenae, and of many other explorers of Homeric sites. The decoration of the palaces of Alcinous and Menelaus; the art of the goldsmith, the use of chariots in war, the shape and size of the huge Homeric shield; the cuirass, zoster, and mitrê of the warriors, the weapons [Pg 50] of bronze described in Homer, all correspond with objects discovered or delineated in works of art of the late Minoan period in Greece and Crete. But Homeric customs of all sorts also vary much from the facts of the Minoan archaeologist. The monuments of the late Minoan Age reveal modes of burial wholly unlike the Homeric practice of cremation and interment of the bones in lofty tumuli or barrows. They prove the existence of sacrifice to the dead, which Homer ignores. They display fashions of costume quite alien to the Homeric world. They yield none of the iron tools of peaceful purpose with which Homer is perfectly familiar. They furnish abundance of stone arrowheads, which are never mentioned in the Epics.

The conclusion suggested is that Homer knew a people living on the ancient Minoan sites, and retaining much of the Minoan art, much of the military material, but advanced into a peculiar form of the Early Bronze Age; clad in quite a new fashion, practising another form of burial, entertaining other beliefs about death and the dead, but still retaining the flowing locks often represented in pictures of men in Minoan art.

The use of body armour too is in the Iliad and Odyssey universal in regular war; from the rarity of delineation thereof in Minoan art this appears to be another innovation. Homer is quite conscious that he is singing of events gathered from legends of a time long before his day, a time with which he is in touch, which has bequeathed much to his age, but which, we see, is in some respects less advanced than and in many ways different from his own. He attributes to the old legendary heroes, [Pg 51] however, the institutions with which he is familiar—institutions that are not those of any known period of historic Greece. They are no figments of fancy. They closely correspond, as far as form of government is concerned, with the early feudalism described in the oldest Irish epical romances, and in the French chansons de geste of the eleventh to the thirteenth century a.d. We find an Over Lord, like the Celtic Ardrigh, or the Bretwalda in early England, ruling over Princes (Ri), with an acknowledged sway, limited by unwritten conventions. He holds, as Mr. Freeman says of the Bretwalda, ‘an acknowledged, though probably not very well defined, supremacy.’ His rule is hereditary; the sceptre is handed down through the male line. Zeus has given him the sceptre, and he confessedly rules, like Charlemagne even in the later chansons de geste, by right divine. He has the Zeus-given sceptre, and he has the θέμιστες, a knowledge of ‘a recognized body of principles and customs which had grown up in practice’ (Iliad ix. 99).

The origin of the Over Lord, as of all kingship, may be traced to a combination of sagacity, courage, and experience in war, in an individual, and to his consequent acquirement of property and influence, plus the survival of the prestige of the medicine man, to whom the ruling supernormal Being of the tribe is supposed to speak. A very low example is the Dieri medicine man inspired by Kutchi; an elevated example is the Homeric Minos, who converses with Zeus. Even the dream of Agamemnon is worthy of respect, says Nestor, ‘because he has seen it who boasts himself to be the best of the Achaeans’; another man’s dream might be disregarded (Iliad ii. 80-83). However, [Pg 52] Agamemnon does not lay stress on such communications; Calchas is the regular interpreter of omens and the will of the gods. A divinity doth hedge Agamemnon, though Achilles half draws his sword against him. He has the right to summon the whole host, and to exact fines for absence; he has the lion’s share of all spoils of war; he is war leader, but always consults his peers, the paladins of Charlemagne. From him much that is not easily tolerable is endured, but, if he goes too far in his arrogance, a prince or peer has the recognized right, like Achilles, to throw up his allegiance. By due gifts of atonement, of which the rules are ceremonially minute (Iliad xix. 215-75), the Over Lord may place himself within his right again, and he who refuses the atonement is recognized to be in his wrong. The whole passage about the minutiae of atonement in Iliad xix delays the action, and is censured by critics as ‘late’. But it cannot be late, it could only have been composed for a noble audience keenly interested in the customary laws under which they lived, laws unknown to historic Greece. We are accustomed to similar prolixity and minuteness about points of law in the Icelandic sagas.

It has been said that Homer, an Asiatic poet of the ninth century b.c., lived imaginatively in, say, the thirteenth century, b.c. as Mr. William Morris imaginatively ‘lived in’ the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries a.d. But Morris came after Sir Walter Scott, who introduced the imaginative archaeological reconstruction of past ages by poets and artists. Shakespeare did not ‘live in’ any age but his own. His Hamlet fights with the Elizabethan long rapier, not with short sword and axe. Homer, too, lives in his own sub-Minoan age, and in that alone. [Pg 53]

The poets of this age of loose feudalism are always partial to the princes rather than to the Over Lord. The Irish romance writers much prefer the chivalrous Diarmaid, or Oscar, to Fionn, the Over Lord, and the later writers of chansons de geste in France utterly degrade Charlemagne in favour of his paladins.

Greek, Irish, or French, the poets have a professional motive: there are many courts of princes wherein they may sing, but only one court of the Over Lord. In this partisanship Homer is relatively moderate; his Agamemnon is perhaps the most subtle of all his portraits; unsympathetic as is the Over Lord, his Zeus-given supremacy always wins for him respect. The whole picture of Over Lord and princes is a genuine historical document, a thing of a single age of culture, far behind the condition of the Ionian colonists. The princes themselves owe their position to birth, wealth, and courage. Except Aias and Odysseus, chiefs of rocky isles, all own abundance of chariots. They are surrounded by a class of gentry (the Irish Flaith) who are also fighters from chariots, and stand out above the nameless members of the host. It is they (Iliad ix. 574) who promise to Meleager a demesne out of the common land. I conceive that such a τέμενος, or demesne, was much more than a κλῆρος, or ‘lot’; he was a very poor man who had no lot (Odyssey xi. 490). Probably the gentry, or γέροντες, had their gift of a τέμενος, or demesne, ratified in the popular assembly, which, I think, did no more than ratify their decisions.

The gentry held rich fields, ‘very remote from any town’ (Iliad xxiii. 832-5). Society was feudal or chivalrous, not democratic. It is [Pg 54] true, as Mr. Ridgeway says (J. H. S., vi. 319-39) that we do not hear of land in the lists of a man’s possessions, but of livestock, gold, iron, and chariots and arms. On the other hand, the gentry certainly held rich fields remote from the cities.

We have no clear light on Homeric land-tenure, but land was held by individuals, in firm possession, if not in property; a prince like Menelaus has whole cities to give away. If a prince lent stock to the owner of a lot, and if the owner became bankrupt, the lot, legally or illegally, would glide into the possession of the prince.

The people were free, like the lotless man who employs labourers—their situation is not clear—and like the artisans—smiths, carpenters, workers in gold—and the slaves, men and women, were captives in war, or persons kidnapped by pirates—though they may have been of high rank at home, like the swineherd Eumaeus. In war it was open to a man to kill a prisoner or to set him at ransom, as in the Middle Ages. The various crafts had their regular professors, though it pleased Odysseus to be a master of all of them, from ploughing to shipbuilding.

It was a very tolerable state of society; slaves were well treated; women, of course, held a position high above what was theirs in historic Greece. True, they were usually purchased with a bride-price; but the lofty level of their morality, infinitely above that of Europe in the age of chivalry, suggests that men allowed a free choice to their daughters.

No woman sells herself; there is not a harlot in Homer, common as they are in the earliest records of Israel. No doubt they existed, but the [Pg 55] poet eschews mention of them. Here, as everywhere, the austerity of his tone, though he is not a Puritan, makes him far from an exhaustive authority on manners and customs. To him, as Mr. Gissing well observes, the stability of the home, typified by the wedding bed of Odysseus, made fast to a pillar of a living tree, is very sacred. In camp, and in wanderings, the men live as they will; at home, as we learn from the cases of Laertes and the father of Phoenix, a good man keeps no mistress, and the wife soon gives a worse man cause to rue his laxity. All this is very unlike the morals of historic Greece. The bride-price is, indeed, a barbaric survival; but the purity of the morals of the married women proves that it was modified in practice by the benignity of fathers to ‘well-loved daughters’. The highest tender was not necessarily accepted. We hear of no amours of maids and bachelors; the girls do not sleep, like the young men and like fair Margaret of the ballad of Clerk Saunders, in bowers in the court, but in rooms of the upper story, where only a god can come unnoticed. Nausicaa is most careful not to compromise herself by being seen in the company of a stranger.

Naturally, in a society that carries arms always, the tone of courtesy, where deliberate insult is not intended, is very high, and rude speech, like that of Euryalus to Odysseus in Phaeacia, is atoned for with an apology and the gift of a sword. Except the Over Lord, no man is habitually rude.

As to warfare, as in the Tain Bo Cualgne, the Irish romance based on the manners of the late Celtic period (200 b.c. to 200 a.d.), the gentry fight from chariots, dismounting at will, while the host, with spears, or with slings, bows and arrows, follows [Pg 56] or exercises its artillery from the flanks. Except when the rain of arrows does execution, we hear next to nothing of the plebeian infantry. The age of hoplites was as remote as the age of cavalry, and the phalanxes are only mentioned when they are broken. The chariot age is familiar in Assyrian, Egyptian, and Minoan art, as among the Britons and Caledonians who fought with Rome. The chariot was extremely light; a man could lift a chariot and carry it away (Iliad x. 505). Probably the chariot came into use for war, as Mr. Ridgeway supposes, in an age when a pony was unequal to the weight of a man in armour; the Highlanders, with their Celtic ponies, used chariots in Roman times; never did they acquire a breed of horses fit for chargers, hence they lost the battle of Harlaw. To judge by Homer’s description of horses, the chariot survived the cause of its origin; steeds were tall and strong enough for cavalry purposes, but human conservatism retained the chariot. A speech of Nestor, in Iliad, Book iv. 303-9, shows that Homer knew by tradition the Egyptian custom of charging in serried squadrons of chariotry, while in his own day the lords of chariots usually fought dismounted, and in the loosest order, or no order. Nestor naturally prefers ‘the old way’; no late poet could have made this interpolation, for, in the Greek age of cavalry, he could have known nothing of chariotry tactics. The Egyptian chariotry used the bow, while their adversaries, the Khita charioteers, fought with spears, in loose order, as in Homer—and had the worst of the fight. [Pg 57]

The Homeric retention of the huge body-covering shield, familiar in Minoan art, was more or less of a survival of a time when archery was all-important. The shield, as among the Iroquois and in mediaeval Europe, was suspended by a belt. The same shields, among the Red Indians, and in the Middle Ages (eleventh and twelfth centuries), were, so to speak, umbrellas against a rain of arrows; as the bow became more and more despised, the historic Greeks adopted the round parrying buckler, good against spear- and sword-strokes. The body armour, as far as greaves are concerned, was an advance on Minoan practice. In Minoan art the warriors are usually naked under the huge shields; happily, one or two seals found in Crete, and a pair of greaves in Cyprus, prove that greaves, cuirass, zoster, and mitrê, the mailed kirtle of Homer, were not unknown even before the earliest age at which one could venture to place the Epic (see Note).


The use of the metals, in war, is peculiar, but not unexampled. Weapons are, when the metal is specified, always of bronze, save one arrow-head of primitive form (Iliad iv. 123), and a unique iron mace (Iliad vii. 141). Implements, including knives, which were not used in war, were of iron, as a rule, of bronze occasionally. The only battle-axe [Pg 58] mentioned is of bronze (Iliad xiii. 611); axes, as implements, are usually of iron, so are the implements of the ploughman and shepherd. No man in Homer is said to be ‘smitten with the iron’, it is always ‘with the bronze’; but trees are felled ‘with the iron’ (Iliad iv. 485).

Odysseus shoots ‘through the iron’, that is, through the open work of the iron axe-heads, which were tools. This curious overlap of bronze and iron, the iron being used for implements before it is used for weapons, has no analogy, as far as I am aware, in Central and Northern Europe. But Mr. Macalister has found it perfectly exemplified in Palestine, in certain strata of the great mound of Gezer. Here all weapons are of bronze, all tools of iron (Palestine Exploration Fund, 1903, p. 190).

This state of affairs—obviously caused by military distrust of iron while ill-manufactured, when bronze was admirably tempered—is proved by Mr. Macalister to have been an actual stage in culture, ‘about the borders of the Grecian sea.’ We find no archaeological evidence for this state of things in tombs of the period of overlap of bronze and iron in Greek soil. But then we have never excavated a tumulus of the kind described by Homer, and, if we did, the tumulus (which necessarily attracts grave-robbers) is likely to have been plundered. This is unlucky; we have only the poet’s evidence, in Greece, for the uses of bronze and iron as they existed in Palestine. But I think it improbable that the poet invented this rare stage of culture. Again, if we believe, with most critics, that late poets introduced the iron, it is to me inconceivable that they could abstain, in rigorous archaism, [Pg 59] or unconscious adherence to tradition, from occasionally making a warrior ‘smite with the iron’, or from occasional mention of an iron sword or iron-headed spear, while they did not archaize or follow tradition when they spoke of iron knives, axes, tools, and so on.

In tradition of the bronze age, the tools, no less than the weapons, must have been of bronze. Why, then, did late archaizing poets make them of iron, while they never made the weapons of anything but bronze?

The great objection to my opinion is Odyssey xvi. 294, xix. 13, the repeated line in which occurs the proverbial saying, ‘iron of himself draws a man to him.’ Here iron is synonymous with ‘weapon’, the weapons in the hall of Odysseus are to be removed, on the pretence that ‘iron’ draws a man’s hands, and may draw those of the intoxicated wooers in their cups.

I am opposed to regarding a line as ‘late’ merely because it contradicts one’s theory. The critics have no such scruples, they excise capriciously. But this line not only contradicts my theory, it contradicts the uniform unbroken tenor of both epics. It is a saying of the Iron Age, when ‘iron’ has become a synonym for ‘weapon’, as in Thucydides and Shakespeare. But everywhere else in the epics the metallic synonym for ‘weapon’ is ‘bronze’. The metallic synonym for ‘tool’ is ‘iron’. Men are ‘smitten with the bronze’, trees are ‘felled with the iron’.

I think that, in these circumstances, it is not inconsistent to doubt the line’s antiquity. If we accept it, we must suppose that one solitary late minstrel out of hundreds (on the separatist theory) let [Pg 60] the cat out of the bag and enabled us to be sure that an indefinite amount of the epics was composed in the full-blown Age of Iron, though all the other later poets firmly kept the secret by invariably giving to the heroes weapons of bronze. Mr. Ridgeway is against me. He writes: ‘The Homeric warrior ... has regularly, as we have seen, spear and sword of iron.’ He may see it so, but Homer saw it otherwise, and never gives a warrior an iron sword or spear (Early Age of Greece, vol. i, p. 301).

No early poet, perhaps no poet, can avoid, in religion and myth, barbaric and savage survivals, owing to the nature of the legendary materials on which his works are based. Nobody, we may almost say, invents a plot: all borrow from the huge store of world-wide primaeval Märchen, or folk-tales. In the Odyssey, Marmion, and Ivanhoe, the plot rests on the return of the husband or lover from unknown wanderings, unrecognized, except in Ivanhoe and the Odyssey, by the faithful swineherd. This is a plot of Märchen all over the world. Gerland, and, recently, Mr. Crooke and others, have studied the Märchen embedded in Homer. One such story is that of the Shifty Lad in Dasent’s Tales from the Norse, and the Shifty Lad is only a human representative of the shifty beast, Brer Rabbit or another, who is so common in savage folklore. Now Homer, in the character of Odysseus, merely combines the Returned Husband with the Shifty Lad. It would not be hard to show that Odysseus is really the hero of the Iliad, as well as of the Odyssey, the man whom the poet admires most, and he is the real ‘stormer of the city’ of Ilios. He is the type of [Pg 61] sagacious, resolute, indomitable courage; the thoroughly well-balanced man, the most tenacious in war. But, in the Odyssey, the nature of the original Märchen, as in the encounter with the Cyclops, and the necessity for preserving his disguise, when he returns to Ithaca, compel the poet to make Odysseus foolhardy and an ingenious liar. The sentiment of Homer’s audience and of Homer is with Achilles when he says that he ‘hates a lie like the gates of hell’. But the given material does not permit Odysseus to cherish this chivalrous disdain of falsehood, and Athene, the most ethical of the Olympians, applauds his craft. The materials of legend also yield the cruelty of Achilles; like a hero of the Irish epic, the Tain Bo Cualgne, he drags a dead man behind his chariot; and, ‘with evil in his heart, he slays twelve Trojan prisoners with the bronze,’ at the funeral of Patroclus. This is not, to the poet’s mind, a case of human sacrifice, nor does Achilles intend the souls of the men to be thralls of Patroclus.

Homer regards Achilles as slaying the captives merely to glut his fury with revenge, ‘anger for thy slaying’ (Iliad xxiii. 23). This is the explanation which he gives to himself of an incident which he finds in his traditional materials, probably a memory of human sacrifice. Historic Greece was familiar enough with such ritual; but it is a marvel of evil to Homer; he clearly fails to understand it. He is most embarrassed by his materials in matters of religion. Unlike Hesiod he does not love to speak of what the gods did ‘in the morning of time’, things derived from a remote past of savage mythology; the incest, the [Pg 62] amours in animal form, the cannibalism, the outrage of Cronos on his father, the swallowing of Zeus. But he cannot get rid of the ancient mythological element in the Olympians. Though the Zeus of Eumaeus is ethical, just, benignant, a truly religious conception; though Homer has almost a bitter sense of the dependence of men on the gods; though ‘all men yearn after the gods’; the Olympians, as they appear in the story, are the freakish beings of myth, capricious partisans, amorous, above all undignified. Only among the gods has married life its sad, if humorous, aspect, as in the bickerings of Zeus and Hera; only among the gods is adultery a joke. Among men it is the direst outrage of sanctity of the home. So alien to Homer is the mythology which he inherits that he finds it easiest to treat the gods humorously, save where they guard the sacredness of the oath (Iliad iii. 275), and are protectors of strangers, suppliants, and of the poor. The mythological survivals are, to Homer, inevitable, but distasteful. As to a belief in a future life, in Homer there is a prevailing idea, but it is mixed with the other ideas which, however contradictory, always exist in this mysterious matter. The prevailing idea is that the dead, if they receive their due rites of fire and interment, abide, powerless for good or evil, in a shadowy sheol in the House of Hades. If they do not get their dues of fire they wander disconsolate, and may become ‘a cause of wrath’ to men, may appear to them in dreams, or in

the margin grey, ’Twixt the soul’s night and day.

[Pg 63] In the House of Hades is neither reward nor punishment (if we take Odyssey xi. 570-600 for a late interpolation), but mere lack of vigour and of the sun. Only the prophet Tiresias, like Samuel in Sheol, ‘keeps his wits’ and his faculty of precognition.

Yet, in the scene of the Oaths (Iliad iii. 278-9), certain powers are appealed to which ‘beneath the earth punish men outworn’. I do not think this a late interpolation, because the formula of the sacrifices connected with the oath is likely to be very ancient, to be pre-Homeric, and to reflect an old belief no longer popular. In these matters all contradictory notions may coexist, as when the hymn of the Euahlayi tribe of New South Wales prays Baiame to admit the soul of Erin into his paradise, Bullimah, while the myth says that Erin is now incarnate in a little bird. Many of the lowest savages believe in a future of rewards and punishments, but the doctrine of the efficacy of fire has all but driven this faith out of Homer’s ken.

Cremation is the great crux of Homeric anthropology, cremation, and the consequent absence of ghost-feeding, and of hero-worship. Archaeology shows that these practices went on unbroken in Greece, and archaeology cannot show us a single example of the Homeric barrow and method of interment. Yet the method is a genuine historic method in Northern Europe of the Age of Bronze. Homer did not invent it; he mentions no other mode of disposing of the dead, but we have never found its traces in Greece. The shaft graves and tholos graves of late Minoan times have left no vestige of tradition in the Epics, and the cremation and barrow are equally absent from the view of the [Pg 64] archaeologist. I cannot venture on any guess at an explanation. We are precluded from supposing that cremation arose in the wanderings after the Dorian invasion, for the purpose of concealing the remains of the dead from desecration by alien foes. The shaft grave might conceal them, the tumulus and pillar above only advertise their whereabouts to the ruthless foe.

It is plain that, on many points, Homer, with his austere taste, is not a very rich source for the anthropologist in search of savage survivals. In Homer no human beings work magic; a witch, like a harlot, is not to be found in the Epics. Both are familiar in the Old Testament. There is a second-sighted man, but his was a natural faculty. Homer never alludes to the humbler necessities of our animal nature; unlike Shakespeare, he never makes old Nestor cough and spit, when roused, as in the Doloneia, by a night alarm. Nobody coughs in Homer. He sings for an audience that has lived down the ape, though the tiger has not wholly died. He knows nothing of our instruments of torture, rack and boot and thumbscrews, which, in Scotland, outlasted the seventeenth century. Historic Greece was not very successful in expelling the beast from human nature. The poets of historical Greece were never so successful as Homer. I infer that the Iliad and the Odyssey are prehistoric, the flowers of a brief age of Achaean civilization, an age when the society of princes and ladies had a taste extraordinarily pure and noble. The poems were framed for an aristocratic, not for a popular audience, though I am perfectly ready to grant that the popular audience to which our best ballad minstrels sang also desired a tone of singular purity in the serious romantic lays. It is the nature of the highest objective art, whether in epic or ballad, to be clean: the Muses are maidens. [Pg 65]


Page 47. The reference to Mr. Verrall refers to his article on Homer in The Quarterly Review, July, 1908. I myself suppose that some editorial work was done for the Iliad and Odyssey at Athens, before the Persian war. There is plenty of smoke in literary tradition, and ‘where there is smoke there is fire’. But the smoke-wreaths are vague and multiform as the misty ghosts in Ossian, and I cannot, with Mr. Verrall, regard the words of a fourth-century orator.

Page 48. Lycurgus is not ‘record’. By ‘record evidence’ for Greece I understand inscriptions, nothing more and nothing less.

Page 57. ‘cuirass, zoster, and mitrê.’ See figure, a copy of a clay seal, of which nearly a hundred impressions have been published in Monumenti Antichi. See for further particulars my article on Homer in Blackwood’s Magazine for January, 1908, also Mackenzie, Annual of the British School at Athens (1905-6, p. 241).

Page 59. Odyssey xvi. 294, xix. 13, for

αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος

a friend suggests

αὒτως γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἀνδράσι δῆρις.

This emendation I leave at the mercy of the learned.

[Pg 66]



In the remains of the earliest Greek poetry we are met by a striking contrast. As Mr. Lang has told us, ‘Homer presents to the anthropologist the spectacle of a society which will have nothing to do with anthropology.’ By Homer of course Mr. Lang means the Iliad and the Odyssey; and we may add to those poems a stream of heroic tradition which runs more or less clearly through most of our later literature, and whose spirit is what we call classic, Homeric, or Olympian.

But there is also in the earliest epic tradition another stratum, of which this Olympian character does not hold. A stratum full of the remains, and at times even betraying the actuality, of those ‘beastly devices of the heathen’ which are dear to the heart of us anthropologists—if a mere Greek scholar may venture to class himself among even amateur anthropologists: ceremonies of magic and purification, beast-worship, stone-worship, ghosts and anthropomorphic gods, traces of the peculiar powers of women both as ‘good medicine’ and as titular heads of the family, and especially a most pervading and almost ubiquitous memory of Human Sacrifice. [Pg 67]

This stratum is represented by Hesiod and the Rejected Epics—I mean those products of the primitive saga-poetry which were not selected for recitation at the Panathenaea (or the unknown Ionian archetype of the Panathenaea), and which consequently fell into neglect—by the Orphic literature, by a large element in tragedy, most richly perhaps by the antiquarian traditions preserved in Pausanias, and in the hostile comments of certain Christian writers, such as Clement and Eusebius.

Now the first thing for the historian to observe about this non-Homeric stratum is this: that non-Homeric is by no means the same thing as post-Homeric. We used to be taught that it was. We used to be taught that Homer was, practically speaking, primitive: that we started from a pure epic atmosphere and then passed into an age of romantic degradation. The extant remains of the non-Homeric poems frequently show in their form, and sometimes even in their content, definite signs of presupposing the Iliad, just as the Iliad here and there shows signs of presupposing them; and it is not until recently that we have been able to understand properly the nature and the method of composition of an ancient Traditional Book. I will not go into that point in detail here. Even supposing that the Cypria, as a poem, could definitely be called ‘later’ than the Iliad, it is enough to say that a later literary whole may often contain an older kernel or a more primitive mass of material, and in the case of the non-Homeric saga-poems it is fairly clear that they do so.

Two arguments will suffice. First the argument from analogy. Few anthropologists, with the knowledge now at our command, will regard the high, austere, knightly atmosphere of the Iliad as primitive [Pg 68] when compared with that of Hesiod. In the second place, a great proportion of our anthropological material is already to be found in prehistoric Crete. The an-iconic worship, the stones, the beasts, the pillars, and the ouranian birds: the great mother goddess of Anatolia, the human sacrifices, and the royal and divine bull. I speak under correction from those who know the Cretan finds better than I; but to me it seems that there are many bridges visible from Crete to Hesiod or Eumelus or even Pausanias; but the gulf between Crete and Homer seems, in certain places, to have no bridge.

Thus the later literary whole contains the more primitive modes of thought, the earlier religion.

Now this fact in itself, though it may be stated in different ways, is not much disputed among scholars. But the explanations of the fact are various. That which seems to me much the most probable is the theory of Expurgation. As Mr. Lang seems not quite to have understood what I tried to say about this in my Rise of the Greek Epic, I will restate it in this way: We know that the great mass of saga-poetry began to be left on one side and neglected from about the eighth century on; and we find, to judge from our fragments, that it remained in its semi-savage state. Two poems, on the contrary, were selected at some early time for public recitation at the solemn four-yearly meeting of ‘all Ionians’, and afterwards of ‘all Athenians’. The poems were demonstrably still in a fluid condition; and the intellect of Greece was focussed upon them. This process lasted on through the period of that great movement which raised the shores of the Aegean from a land of semi-savages to the [Pg 69] Hellas of Thales, of Aeschylus, and of Euripides. And we find, naturally, that amid all the colour of an ideal past, in which these two epics, like all other epics, have steeped their story, there has been a gradual but drastic rejection of all the uglier and uncleaner elements. That is a very broad statement; it omits both the evidence and the additional causes and qualifications. But it serves to explain why I treat the non-Homeric sagas as representing more faithfully the primitive pre-Hellenic habits of thought, the mere slough out of which Hellas rose.

Now to one lecturing on Anthropology in Homer, the difficulty is to find enough material. In the case of the early saga outside Homer, the difficulty is only what to choose and where to stop.

One might begin by discussing the remnants of primitive secret societies. The remains are fairly rich. Mr. Webster, in his instructive book,[41] has traced the normal genesis of these bodies which exercise such an enormous influence over savage life. The first stage he takes to be the ordinary system of ordeals and puberty rites through which all males of the tribe have to pass before they can be admitted as full men. The ordeals of the Arunta and of the various Red Indian tribes are familiar to most of us. These ceremonies are often involved in a good deal both of mystery and of charlatanry. The youths initiated, for instance, sometimes are supposed to die and be born again. The process is secret. [Pg 70] The women of the tribe are kept carefully away. The neighbourhood is filled with the warning sound of the Rhombos or Bull-roarer—that ‘whirring of immortal things’ which Hesiod perhaps means when he speaks of the air resounding ῥιπᾖ ὑπ’ ἀθανάτων.[42] The next stage begins when this initiation ceremony ceases to be compulsory. This sometimes depends on the separation of the War Chief from the medicine-man or the elders. For of course the initiation ceremonies are specially the department of the last named. In the third stage we find a full-flown Secret Society. The initiated form a definite body and work together for the maintenance of such conduct as is pleasing to the gods and themselves.

Take the case of Dukduk, a powerful society in the Bismarck Archipelago, north-east of New Guinea. I will not dwell on its power nor on the advantages which accrue to its worshippers. But I cite from Mr. Webster an eyewitness’s account of an epiphany of Dukduk.

Dukduk arrives about six times a year, and always on the day of the new moon. His arrival is announced a month beforehand by the Old Men—the Gerontes. During that month great quantities of food are made ready for Dukduk, and are ‘taken care of’ by the Old Men, his votaries. The day before the epiphany all women disappear from sight. It is death to them to look on the divine being. Before daybreak all the males of the tribe assemble on the beach, most of the young men looking frightened. At the first streak of dawn singing and drum-beating is heard out at sea, and as soon as there is enough light five or six canoes are seen at a [Pg 71] distance, lashed together and with a platform built over them. On this platform are two Dukduks, dancing and uttering shrill cries. They are got up like gigantic cassowaries, some ten feet high, surmounted by a grotesque human mask. At least, says Mr. Romilly, the witness whom I cite, the body looks much like the body of the cassowary, but the head is like nothing but the head of a Dukduk. The canoes make the beach. The natives fall back in apprehension, for if Dukduk is touched he frequently tomahawks the offender on the spot. They proceed through the settlement, always dancing and screaming, to the secret house which has been prepared for them in the bush. They stay about a fortnight. They beat people a good deal, and exact money from suitable sources, especially plundering the women; if any one has shown disrespect of any sort to any member of the Dukduk society, not to speak of Dukduk himself, the punishment is swift and terrible.

Now Dukduk, like Egbo and Mumbo-Jumbo, is an anti-feminist, whereas Dionysus was essentially worshipped by women. There are several West African parallels to this. The Bundu of the Mendi country is a very powerful woman‘s society.[43] But otherwise is not the whole of this story curiously reminiscent of the Dionysus myths, as they occur, for instance, in the early Corinthian epos attributed to Eumelos? In his native Thrace, very possibly, everybody was initiated to Dionysus; but in Greece his worshippers form a special society. Dionysus arrives in a ship from unknown seas: when he moves inland this ship is set bodily [Pg 72] upon a wagon.[44] He makes his epiphany at various places, claiming worship for himself and honours for his worshippers. In the regular propagandist legend that comes down to us, Lycurgus perished for wrongs done to the Bacchic society and the god himself. He ‘sought to stay the women possessed of god and the Bacchic fire’.[45] He smote or drove into the sea Dionysus himself and his Nurses.[46] The same with Pentheus. In the actual ritual, we can have little doubt, a man personated Dionysus, exactly as a man personates the Dukduk or Egbo or Mumbo-Jumbo. And presumably, in just the same way, the uninitiated, as Mungo Park says, ‘were so ignorant, or at least were obliged to pretend to be so,’ as to take the figure on the ship for a divine being.

The Mysteries are all intimately connected with Secret Societies. The Demeter mystery has an epiphany in it; it has the arrival of Demeter at Eleusis; it has the Rhombos or Bull-roarer and the exclusion of the uninitiated. And, a sign perhaps of declining influence in this actual world, it professes, like many of these societies, to do wonderful things in the next.

There are, to my mind, traces in prehistoric Greece of another kind of secret society, resembling the Human Leopards or Human Lions of West Africa. I must refer here to the long expected book of my friend Mr. Penmorlan Maine on Werewolves. But, to give the mere outlines of the subject, the members of these societies are apt to turn, at certain seasons, into leopards or lions, and then kill human beings in a [Pg 73] leopard-like or lion-like way. Their object is partly to obtain human fat for ‘medicine’, partly to remove or discourage their enemies. Sir H. H. Johnston[47] tells of a series of murders committed by an old man, who concealed himself in long grass and leaped out on solitary travellers. He killed them and then mutilated the bodies. He confessed the murders freely, but explained that he at times turned into a lion, and had to act as such.[48] The leopard societies have special three-pronged forks or gloves with knives at the end to imitate the wound of a leopard’s claw. And I have seen a long club ending in claws like a wild beast’s, which I suspect had the same purpose. My father-in-law bought it in Khartoum from a negro from the south, who professed not to know what it was. He said it was a ‘fantasia’—as no doubt it was.

To take a particular instance, the mode of initiation in the Sherbro leopard society strongly recalls certain pre-Hellenic myths. The society chooses some stranger and asks him to a dinner at which human flesh is secretly mixed among the other food. At the end of the meal they reveal to him what he has eaten, and in proof (I think) show him the hands, and sometimes the head, of the murdered human being. He has shared the leopard feast, and is now a leopard.[49]

Was it not exactly like this that Atreus kept the hands and feet of the murdered children apart, hidden with a cloth, and at the end of the feast removed the cloth to show Thyestes what he had eaten? Lykaon too, [Pg 74] though his name can scarcely be derived from λύκος, turned into a wolf because he had ‘sacrificed a child on the altar of Zeus Lykaios’. As he himself can scarcely be different from Zeus Lykaios, this must originally have implied some cannibal act. And you will remember that ever afterwards in the ritual of Zeus Lykaios legend said that one piece of human flesh was mixed up with the rest of the sacrificial meat, and the man who unknowingly tasted that bit was doomed to turn into a wolf.[50]

There are the burning questions of totems and of matriarchy; there is Earth-magic, there is Purification, there is Fetichism: there are many other marks of ‘the Religions of the Lower Culture’ to be found in the ancient pre-Hellenic myths. But I must turn to the special point which I wish to illustrate in the remainder of this lecture.

I wish to deal with a most familiar part of the subject, the Divine King, or, as I prefer to call him, the Medicine-King, and then to apply the results which we reach to the most obvious remnant of non-Homeric poetry that has come down to us, the Theogony of Hesiod.

We all know about this medicine-king. If we like we can call him divine. On his force and his mana—what Hesiod, I venture to suggest, calls his κράτος τε βία τε—depends the welfare of his people, in the way of rain and thunderstorms, of abundance of game, of crops, of success in war. He also affects floods, earthquake, and pestilence. If he suffers in any way, if his mana is weakened, his whole people [Pg 75] suffers and is weakened too. Consequently he is encouraged and kept strong as long as possible; if he shows any weakness, he must be got rid of and a better man found to take his place. There seem to be three main methods. Either he is set aside periodically, at the end of five years, or nine years, or the like; or he is quietly deposed when he shows signs of age, like Peleus, Oineus, Aison, in the legends; or, and this is our main subject to-day, when some one else shows superior mana by killing him. At present my mana is supreme; I am king; my will carries itself out. But if your mana, your Kratos and Bia, conquer mine, then you are king. If you can also get my mana into you, so much the better. For κράτος and βία are tricky things and may desert any one of us, or, according to Hesiod, any except Zeus: ‘No house of Zeus is without them, no seat of Zeus, there is no going forth of the god where they do not follow him, and they sit for ever beside the Thunderer.’[51] Already, in Hesiod, these mana qualities have become half anthropomorphic; much more so, of course, in Aeschylus’ Prometheus.

Now in anthropology we are always making fresh efforts at the imaginative understanding of men far removed from us, and naturally, therefore, we are always slightly correcting and modifying our conceptions. I want here to suggest that with regard to this Divine King the ordinary classical conception is slightly wrong. We speak of deification; and this deification always remains rather a puzzle for us. It may be all very well for the mysterious Minos: but when applied to Julius Caesar or to Hadrian, in the full light and plain prose of [Pg 76] history, it seems such an absurd and gratuitous blasphemy. I think the mistake lies in applying our highly abstract conception ‘God’, a conception rarefied and ennobled during many centuries by the philosophic and religious thought of the highest of mankind, to a stratum of human ideas to which it does not belong. In one of the presidential addresses delivered to the recent Congress of Religions, Mr. Hartland dwelt on a significant fact with regard to this idea of God, viz. that whenever this word is used our best witnesses tend to contradict one another. Among the most competent observers of the Arunta tribes, for instance, some hold that they had no conception of a God, others that they were constantly thinking about God. Much may be said about this; but one thing, I think, emerges with some clearness: that this idea of a god far away in the sky—I do not say merely a god who is ‘without body, parts, or passions’, but even a god who is very remote and is a cause behind the regular phenomena of the world—this idea is one which practically does not enter their minds at all, or, if by an effort they can reach and accept it, it has little working value and is soon forgotten. For most primitive races, I suspect, the medicine-chief, the βασιλεύς, with his immense mana, is Theos, and equally the Theos is the medicine-chief. The rainmaker, the bringer of game, the possessor of the power to make dead and to make alive—there he is, the visible doer of all those things which later races have delegated to higher and more shadowy beings, walking palpably before you with his medicine and perhaps his pipe, his grand manner, his fits, and his terrific dress. [Pg 77]

The Basileus, the possessor of great mana, wants people to obey him, and by will-power, by force of character, aided by impressive ritual, he makes them. In the same way he makes rain; he says so vehemently ‘It shall rain’ that it cannot help itself. It does. This lies at the back of what we somewhat erroneously call mimetic magic. For the real rainmaker does not imitate rain, he just makes it. One must bear in mind always the extreme sensitiveness of savages to suggestion—to hocus-pocus, to bullying, to paroxysms of rage. When Kyknos-Ares, who presumably belonged to this class of Basileus, was waiting for Heracles to attack him in his temenos, he did not simply make suitable arrangements and stay on guard; no, περιμαίνετο, he ‘raged round’, working up his mana and inspiring all the terror possible. Think of the scolding priests of the Middle Ages. Think even of the Bull ‘Ausculta Fili’. Think of the rages that are characteristic of ancient prophets, such as Tiresias, just as they are of modern yogis and Maroccan saints.

In the first place, then, on sociological grounds, I think we should not conceive this primitive king as a man deified, but rather as a pre-deistic medicine-man possessed of those powers which more cultured ages have relegated to the gods. In the second place, though I know that etymological arguments are often like broken reeds and pierce the hand of him who leans thereon, I cannot but remember that Curtius derived θεός from the root thes- which appears in πολύθεστος, ἀπόθεστος, θέσσασθαι, perhaps θεσμός, the Latin festus and feriae, and which has the special connotation of ‘spell’ or ‘magic prayer’. [Pg 78] Professor Conway, who prefers another derivation (Lith. dvãse, ‘spirit, breath,’ MHG. ge-twas, ‘ghost,’ see Brugmann, Gr. Gr. s.v.), writes to me that the fatal objection to the thes- derivation is that θεσός could not mean God; it could only mean ‘prayer’ or ‘one who prays’. Now, except that the word suggests ‘spell’ rather than ‘prayer’, that is exactly what I want it to mean. If the word θεός was originally neuter it meant magic or medicine, like φάρμακον. If masculine, it was the medicine-man or magic-man—not very far from φαρμακός.

The process of thought, if I may over-simplify it a little, seems to be like this. First the Theos or Rainmaker on earth makes his rain. Then it is found that he does not always or unconditionally make the rain, and you reach the hypothesis that a greater rainmaker lives far away, on some remote mountain, or perhaps in the sky. That is the true Theos. The Theos on earth only knows his ways, belongs to him, partly controls him; sometimes indeed he can only humbly pray to him. The so-called Theos on earth, in fact, is not Theos at all. Here comes one of the strongest antitheses between Homeric and non-Homeric, between the reformed Olympian religion and the old savage stuff from which it was made. Homer drew clear the line between mortal and immortal, between God in Olympus and man here. And most early Greek poetry rings with the antithesis. Μὴ μάτευε Ζεὺς γενέσθαι. θνητὸν ὄντα θνητὰ χρὴ φρονεῖν. By the fifth century the time was long past when ‘gods and mortal men strove in Mêkônê’, and the gods had carried the day. Yet even Sophocles makes his Thebans go with prayer and supplication to a Basileus, to stop the plague; and it seems significant that he makes the priest explain [Pg 79]

θεοῖσι μέν νυν οὐκ ἱσούμενόν σ’ ἑγὼ οὑδ’ οἴδε παῖδες ἑζόμεσθ’ ἑφέστιοι ἁνδρῶν δὲ πρῶτον ἔν τε συμφοραῖς βίου κρίνοντες ἒν τε δαιμόνων συναλλαγαῖς (O.T. 31 ff.).

The suppliant comes to him not exactly as a God, but as the first of men and as holding some special intercourse with the δαίμονες.

A great collection of these medicine-kings, especially of rain and thunder-makers, is to be found in Mr. A. B. Cook’s very remarkable articles on ‘Zeus, Jupiter and the Oak’, published in the Classical Review for 1903, and again in his ‘European Sky God’ in Folk Lore, xv, pp. 371-90. I will run briefly through a few of them.

The clearest of all is Salmoneus. His nature was explained, I believe, partly by M. Salomon Reinach and partly by Miss Jane Harrison. ‘He declared that he was Zeus,’ says Apollodorus (i. 9, 7), ‘and depriving Zeus of his sacrifices bade men offer them to himself. He attached to a chariot leather thongs with bronze caldrons and, trailing them after him, said he was thundering; he tossed blazing torches into the air and said he was lightening.’—So he was; at least, he was doing his best. Mr. Cook shows that he had also some justification for saying that he was Zeus. For he was an Olympian victor; and thereby became Basileus, or Zeus, of Olympia, and had the thunder-making as part of his official duties.

Almost exactly similar is Remulus Silvius, Remulus ... imitator fulminis, as Ovid calls him. ‘In contempt of the gods he contrived [Pg 80] mock thunderbolts and noises like thunder, wherewith he thought to frighten men as though he were a god. But a storm fraught with rain and lightning falling upon his house, and the lake near which it stood swelling in an unusual manner, he was drowned with his whole family.’[52] As with Salmoneus, amid his mock thunder-storms came the real thunder-storm and slew him.

More modest and more in accord with later beliefs was Numa. No impiety was to be found in his thunder-making.[53] ‘Picus and Faunus taught Numa many things, including a charm for thunder and lightning, composed of onions, hair, and pilchards, which is used to this day.’ You may remember the story told by Livy, Ovid, and others, how Numa cheated Jupiter of his human sacrifice. He conjured Jupiter by a spell to come to him and reveal a charm for thunder. The god came, but was angry at being brought, and meant to have blood. ‘I want heads’ ... ‘Of onions,’ said Numa. ‘I want human’ ... ‘Hairs,’ said Numa. ‘I want living’ ... ‘Pilchards,’ put in the pious king, and Jupiter gave the matter up.

Minos in much the same way had the power to thunder, but only had it by means of a prayer to his father Zeus.

Now observe that most of these early Roman heroes appear both as men and as gods. The explanation is, I think, that when the celestial gods were introduced the old Theoi or Basilêes had to be either condemned, like Mezentius, Remulus Silvius, Salmoneus, or else deified. [Pg 81] Numa and Romulus suggest themselves at once. Aeneas, too, while engaged in battle with Turnus, or some say Mezentius, vanished and became Jupiter Indiges. Latinus vanished while fighting Mezentius, and became Jupiter Latiaris. In later times there were numbers of these ‘Humani Ioves’. It is one of the most important social facts to remember about antiquity, that the spread of education was very difficult and slow, and in consequence it was almost impossible for a whole nation at once ever to rise entirely above that primitive state of superstition which Preuss describes by the pleasant word ‘Urdummheit’.

Julius Caesar was worshipped as Jupiter, with M. Antonius for his Flamen Dialis. Caligula was worshipped as Optimus Maximus and also as Jupiter Latiaris; it was perhaps in this capacity that he put to death his rival the Rex Nemorensis at Nemi. Domitian is constantly referred to as Jupiter in the poets. Coins are found inscribed ΛΙΒΙΑ ΗΡΑ, and HADRIANO IOVI OLYMPIO.

We have further the somewhat mysterious statement of Macrobius (Sat. iii. 7. 6) that ‘the souls of consecrated men were called by the Greeks Zânes’, and the express and frequently repeated statement of Tzetzes ‘that the ancients called all their kings Zeus and their queens goddesses’. Οἱ γὰρ πρίν τε Δίας πάντας κάλεον βασιλῆας.[54]

I will not dwell on Zeus-Agamemnon or on Zeus-Minos; nor on the number of priests of Zeus at Corycus who bear the name Zâs. But I will just draw attention to one fact. Two classes of people who are not kings, and I believe two only, are found bearing the title of Zeus. They are [Pg 82] prophets—like Zeus-Amphiaraos and Zeus-Trophonios; and doctors—like the celebrated Menekrates, who called himself Zeus and his various attendants by other divine names. That is to say the old conception of medicine-chief has split up into those three channels, king, prophet, and doctor; and to all three the name of Zeus occasionally belongs. It was for a medical miracle at Lystra that Barnabas was hailed as Zeus and Paul as Hermes (Acts xiv. 12).

Now, as has been observed before now, the history of these Humani Ioves is written in blood, and that for two special reasons. First, it is by blood that they come to the throne and by blood that they leave it. Secondly, they are always appealed to in times of great strait or danger, when ‘strong medicine’ is wanted. And the strongest and most favourite medicine in such cases is human blood, of one sort or another. The main object of the Leopard Societies is said to be the wish to obtain human fat as ‘medicine’. The same motive leads to murders in Australia.[55]

[Pg 83] We should perhaps add a third cause for the stain of blood which lies so deep on these primitive medicine-kings. I mean, the mere wish to inspire terror and obedience and to keep off as long as possible that inevitable successor who filled their days with dread. Kyknos, Phorbas, Oinomaos, Kerkyon, Amykos, Philomeleides, Sinis, and Procrustes, all those ogres of Greek myth who race or wrestle with all comers and, having defeated them, hang their heads on trees or tear their bodies asunder or fling them to wild beasts or the like, have their parallel in many an African king, whose hut is ringed by heads stuck on poles.[56]

Now I wish to apply these conceptions, as I said, to the most obvious piece of Greek Epic poetry outside Homer, and illustrate anthropologically the main legend of the Theogony. You will remember the outlines of the story. The first possessor of the kingly office—βασιληίδα τιμήν—is Ouranos. He is afraid of his children, and ‘hides’ or imprisons them. At last his son Kronos conquers and mutilates him, and he passes out of sight. Kronos becomes king and is [Pg 84] equally afraid of his children; he ‘swallows’ them one after another; eventually Zeus conquers and ‘binds’ him. Zeus now reigns; but Zeus took the precaution of swallowing Metis, when Metis was about to give birth to Athena.

I omit details for the moment. I refrain also from discussing the Maori parallel, first pointed out, I believe, in Mr. Lang’s Custom and Myth. This series of conflicts has been explained as referring to a change of religion, an early Pelasgian worship being ousted by that of the incoming Achaeans. There may be that in it: but such an explanation obviously does not explain the whole series of swallowings. There were not three, certainly not four, different religions in question.

Analysing the story I find in it the following elements.

First, the medicine-king, or Theos, is afraid of his successor. In this case the possible successors are represented as his children. That may be a mere piece of convenience in story-telling; it may be the influence of a time when kingship was hereditary.

In all three cases the motive assigned by Hesiod seems to be the fear of a successor. The motive of Ouranos, indeed, is not very clearly stated. He began by hiding his children in the earth because they were ‘the most dangerous of sons’ (155). They ‘were hated of their father’, and ‘he rejoiced in the evil work’.

Kronos arose and conquered him: the exact meaning of the mutilation I leave aside. Kronos proceeded to swallow his children ‘intending that none other of the proud sons of Ouranos should have king’s rank among the immortals; for he had heard from Gaia and Ouranos that he was destined to be vanquished by his son’ (461 ff.). Here the motive is clearly given. [Pg 85]

As for Zeus and his strange act in swallowing Metis when she was about to give birth to Athena, two quite distinct motives are attributed to him. First, that which we have met with before. ‘He was determined that none but himself should have the king’s rank, βασιληίδα τιμήν, over the immortals. He had heard an oracle that Metis was destined to give birth to’—one expects the motive of the Marriage of Thetis—‘a child who should be mightier than his father.’ But it is not quite so simple; for Athena was the child of Metis, and she was obviously not mightier than Zeus. The oracle takes the curious form that Metis is to bear ‘first Athena, and secondly a child who shall be mightier than his father.’ Zeus seems to have swallowed her rather prematurely. But he had a second motive also. He swallowed Metis ‘that the goddess being inside him should tell him of good and evil’. The name Μῆτις of course means ‘Counsel’ or ‘Wisdom’.

Leaving this last detail aside for the present, I suggest that the main motive in this strange story of the swallowing or hiding of the successive possible pretenders to the crown is the dread which each king naturally felt of him who was coming after. But this still leaves much unexplained; the second main element which I find is the worship of sacred flints or thunder-stones.

When Kronos set about swallowing Zeus, you will remember, Gaia put a big stone in swaddling clothes and gave it to great Kronos. And he ‘put it inside his belly’, ἑὴν ἑσκάτθετο νηδύν (487). Then, ‘in the passing [Pg 86] of the years’—whatever that exactly means—‘beguiled by the counsels of Gaia, great crooked-hearted Kronos spewed up his brood again, being conquered by the craft and force of his son’. (Two reasons there, belonging probably to different stories—in one he was overcome by the craft of Gaia, in the other by the mana of his son.) ‘And the first thing he vomited up was the stone, which he had swallowed last.... Then straightway Zeus set loose his father’s brothers, the Titanes. They were grateful, and gave him three gifts, thunder and thunder-bolt and lightning; formerly vast Earth had hidden them away: and it is by them that Zeus rules over mortals and immortals.’[57]

That is to say Zeus in this story is a thunder-god. The thunder or lightning is his mana. And not only a thunder-god, he is a thunder-stone. The identity has been, of course, disguised in our present version of the myth. It is muddled, like everything else in Hesiod.[58] But it shows through. When Kronos sets about swallowing Zeus, it is the stone he swallows. And it is only when ‘by the counsels of Earth’ Cronos vomits up the stone that Zeus can take any action; and that action takes the form of thunder and lightning, the special property [Pg 87] of a thunder-stone. In the word ‘thunder-stone’, or κεραυνία, the ancients seem to have mixed, and perhaps confused, two ideas: that of a meteorite, which seemed to be the actual bolt which fell in the thunder, and that of an ordinary flint, nephrite, jade, or the like, which has its mysterious fire inside it. The fire is the soul, or indwelling mana, of the flint.

A careful reading of Hesiod’s story will, I think, convince most anthropologists that Zeus is the stone. And as a matter of fact it is not uncommon for both Zeus and Jupiter to appear as stones. In the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, the oldest temple of Jupiter in Rome, founded by Romulus, there was a sacred flint which was called Jupiter Lapis—it was not Jovis Lapis. It was used for killing the victim in solemn treaties. It must have been one of those ‘thunder-stones resembling axes’ of which Pliny speaks; what we should call neolithic axe-heads. There seems to have been more than one Jupiter Lapis; for in 201 b.c. the Senate sent several such with the fetiales to Africa. I need not dwell on other cases; the Zeus Kappôtas at Gythîum, apparently a bigger stone, as Orestes could sit upon it; the Zeus Kasios or Keraunios at Seleucîa; the stone of Zeus Sthenios, on the road from Trozên to Hermione; or the thunder-stone on Mount Ida, in Crete, with which Pythagoras was purified by the Idaean Dactyls, the attendants of Zeus. They are all in De Visser’s book.

The best known of these stones is perhaps that which was believed to be—not to belong to, but actually to be—the Mother of the Gods. Livy (xxix. ii) tells of the embassy sent from Rome to Attalus to fetch the Great Mother; and how the king took the legates to Pessinûs [Pg 88] in Phrygia and handed over to them the sacred stone which the natives affirmed to be the Mother of the Gods. Arnobius describes its appearance: ‘a stone not large, which could be carried in a man’s hand without noticeable weight, in colour black and furvus, in shape more or less round with projecting corners, which is now to be seen in the mouth of the image of the Great Mother.’ Superstitious Rome was ready to accept and to worship the Mother in the form of a stone; but common-sense Rome did at least demand that the Great Mother should have a decently anthropomorphic image, and the stone was then placed in the image’s mouth.

So far, then, we are clear. But there remain some difficult questions. Why was the stone in Hesiod wrapped in swaddling clothes? I do not understand this. But the ritual practice is well attested. Pausanias tells how this Kronos stone was anointed and wrapped in wool.[59] A coin in Macdonald’s Hunter Catalogue (ii. 68. 145) represents the Great Mother stone covered with a goat-skin. This may be merely because of the hagos or taboo, just as the omphalos on vases is commonly covered with an ἄγρηνον and Semitic betyls are wrapped in cloths. The actual body of a god would be dangerous to touch; but it looks as if there was some special connexion between stones and infants. The Orphic poem called Lithica is, of course, full of magic stones, which might be cited here. But take one in especial, the ‘Live Siderite’. This stone has to be prayed to, like a god; it has also to be washed daily for ten days and nursed and wrapped in clean robes, like a baby. At the end of [Pg 89] that time it will reward its benefactor by uttering the scream of a young baby when hungry; then, the poet remarks, the great thing is not to drop it.[60]

In some Mexican dances, Preuss tells us, the souls of infants come through the air in the likeness of five stones. Among the Kaitish and the Arunta there are stones inhabited by infant souls, which are induced in one way or another to come out of the stones and be born. And we all remember the stones flung by Deucalion and Pyrrha, and the race of man which is—or is not—sprung ἀπὸ δρυὸς ἡδ’ ἁπὸ πέτρης.[61]

But again, why were the stones swallowed? What does all this swallowing mean? Zeus of course swallowed Metis in order to have her mana inside him. That is sensible enough. Do medicine men or Theoi ever actually swallow smooth stones in order to get the fire-power or other magic inside them? In Mexico the devils which are sucked out of the body in curing diseases are usually in the form of stones. For instance, in the ceremony of the Huichol tribe, where the gods are healed of their weariness by the Dawn-Star, Kaiumari, sucking ‘stones and the like’ out of them.[62] The same practice is common among Australian blacks.

Mr. Marett refers me to a still better case. Among the Yuin of New South Wales the word joïa, which is almost like mana and is used to denote the immaterial force in sacred animals, is actually the name of [Pg 90] certain stones like these. They are commonly quartz-crystals or bits of glass, but also we hear of Kunambrun, a black stone, apparently lydianite. A black stone probably means thunder. The medicine man often carries these stones in his mouth, and when he sends out a curse or a blessing he projects them out of himself into his victim ‘like the wind,’ that is, invisibly and impalpably.[63]

The actual swallowing seems strange, unless it was a mere fraud. But I used to know an Australian blackfellow—I never thought of asking his tribe—who used to put stones in his mouth and give or sell them to the boys of the neighbourhood as bearing a charm in consequence. They were sure to hit what they were aimed at, unless the aim was very bad. I suppose he put a lot of his mana into them. One of the ways in which a Papuan chief causes death, according to the report of Dr. Bellamy in the White Book for 1907, is to send to a man a present of a smooth stone. The man recognizes the meaning of the stone, and wastes away. Dr. Bellamy cured some by the application of strong smelling salts, which drove away the devils. Presumably the chief had put his mana on the stone in some very strong way.

Lastly, there is another element in this story which calls for explanation from better anthropologists than myself; I mean the constant reference to ‘hiding’ or ‘concealment’. Ouranos (157) hid all his children in a secret place of the Earth; this gave pain to Earth, and she groaned, being squeezed by them. Earth again (482) took [Pg 91] Zeus and hid him in a cave. Kronos put the stone inside him—surely a form of hiding. The Titans were hidden away—κεκρύφατο, by Kronos (729) till Zeus brought them again to light. Lastly and most important, Zeus hid away fire from man, κρύψε δὲ πῦρ.

This last case is pretty clear. Zeus had the fire hidden away in the heart of the flint or in the veins of Earth; Prometheus, or Pramanthas, the Fire-Stick, introduced the more open visible fire. But the other cases seem different. In them it is always a king or a would-be king, a deposed Theos or a conquered aspirant, who is made to disappear. We are reminded of Aeneas and Latinus who vanished in battles, of Romulus and Numa who vanished in thunderstorms.

In one case we find that the hiding was in a ‘monstrous cave’, and a cave in Crete, too. We know from other sources something about the kind of hiding which took place in that particular cave. At the end of the fatal nine years, if we are to believe the authors quoted by me in the Rise of the Greek Epic, p. 127, and much more completely by Mr. A. B. Cook in the articles mentioned above, the divine king Minos in his mask, as a god, went up into the Idaean cave to converse with Zeus. Doubtless the divine mask covered his head. A masked Minos went in, and a masked Minos came out; but one strongly suspects that it was not the same man beneath the mask. My friend Mr. Gordon, an education officer in Lower Nigeria, informs me that there is there a great oracle or ordeal in a cave called the Long Juju. It decides cases between litigants, or persons who have some dispute. And the method is that both go up into the cave, and only one returns. The other, presumably the guilty one, has vanished; he is hidden; κέκρυπται. [Pg 92]

All through this pre-Hellenic realm of saga and half-history we find ourselves in contact with these god-kings, or medicine-chiefs, these βασιλῆες or, if I am right, Theoi. And we cannot but wonder whether we have not here the explanation of Herodotus’ famous statement about the origins of Greek Religion (Herod. ii. 52). The Pelasgians, he tells us, did not originally know the names of the Olympian gods; ‘they brought offerings and prayed to the Theoi.’ It was only at a later time that they sent to Dodona to ask if they should worship those definite gods with special names and attributes and ‘Olympian Houses’ which had come into Greece but were still in some sense foreign. And the oracle said ‘Yes’. I am quite aware that the passage may be differently interpreted; and I do not suggest that Herodotus knew all that lay behind his words when he spoke of the nameless Theoi of the Pelasgians in contrast to the Olympians of Homer and Hesiod. But I do suspect that the contrast between these medicine-chiefs and the Homeric gods is one of the cardinal differences between Hellenic and pre-Hellenic religion; and, further, that some reminiscence of this difference has shaped the tradition which Herodotus repeats. Clearer evidence will, no doubt, be forthcoming from some better-equipped anthropologist.

[Pg 93]


The Greek words for magic and magician, μαγεία and μάγος, are admittedly of Persian origin, and in all probability did not find their way into Greece before the Persian War, that is, before about 480 b.c. It was therefore an obvious inference, which was drawn in 1863 by O. Hirschfeld (de incantationibus et devinctionibus amatoriis apud Graecos Romanosque), that as the name magic was not known in Greece before the Persian Wars, neither was the thing. The inference is indeed obvious, but it is not necessarily correct: magic is practised by tribes who have not developed any general term for magic. It is therefore conceivable, at least, that the Greeks and Italians also before 480 b.c. practised magical rites, even though they then had no word for magic in general. The question is one of facts and not merely of words. What do we know of the facts before 480 b.c.? Unfortunately, according to M. Mauss, in his article on magic in Daremberg and Saglio’s Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines, ‘we are in almost complete ignorance of the primitive and original forms of magic in Italy and Greece.’ In view, then, of our almost complete ignorance, it may perhaps be allowable to start from a hypothesis—the hypothesis that the primitive and original forms of magic amongst the Greeks and Romans were much the same as they are amongst the undeveloped peoples who possess them at the present day, and, like the Greeks and Romans of the earliest times, have no general term for magic.

[Pg 94]

Amongst the tribes of Central Australia, the person who employs magic to cause sickness or death to his enemy does not omit to use what the natives call ‘singing’. This ‘singing’ is conducted ‘in a low voice’ (Frazer, Golden Bough2, i. 13); and the sort of thing the magician ‘in muttered tones hisses out’ is ‘May your heart be rent asunder’, or, ‘May your head and throat be split open’ (Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, 534 ff.; Northern Tribes, 456 ff.).

In the Torres Straits the sorcerer points a spear in the direction of his victim and ‘sings’ similarly, ‘Into body, go, go. Into hands, go, go. Into head, go, go’ (Cambridge Expedition to Torres Straits, vi. 228, 229). The ‘singing’ assists, Mr. Haddon says (ib., p. 231), ‘in furthering the injury he wishes to inflict.’ Now, was ‘singing’, of this magical nature, a sort of rhythmical muttering in a low voice, known to the Greeks and Romans? In the first place, we have the Latin words incantare, incantator, incantamentum, all implying a singing which is magical in its intention and effects—incantation or enchantment. Next, we have carmen, which means not only song in general but ‘singing’ in the magical sense, in Tibullus (i. 8. 17), Ovid (Met. vii. 167, 203, 253; xiv. 57, 20, 34, 44, 366, 387; Fasti iv. 551, 552), Horace (Ep. v. 72; xvii. 4, 5, 28; Sat. i. 8. 19, 20), Virgil (Ecl. viii. 69; Aen. iv. 487), Juvenal (Sat. vi. 133), Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxviii. 10, 18), Tacitus (Annals, iv. 22), and in other passages for which I may refer to Adam Abt (Die Apologie des Apuleius, 22) and L. Fahz (De Poetarum Romanorum DoctrinaMagica, [Pg 95] 138, 139). In Greek we have the same magical singing expressed by the words ἑπάδειν, ἑπωδνή, ἑπῳδὁς; in Euripides (Bacchae 234, Hippolytus 478, 1038, Phoenissae 1260), Sosiphanes (Fr. 1), Aristophanes (Amphiaraus, Fr. 29), Anaxandrides (Fr. 33. 31), Antiphanes (Fr. 17. 15), Xenophon (Mem. iii. 11. 16, 17), Lucian and Heliodorus, and other passages to be found in Abt (ib., p. 43).

It may, however, be objected that all these quotations are of course later than 480 b.c.; and therefore prove nothing as to ‘the primitive and original forms of magic in Italy and Greece’. Indeed, in the Bacchae, for instance, and in Plato, Rep. ii. 364 a, the magic referred to may reasonably be regarded as exotic and not native to Greece. But fortunately we find the word ἑπαοιδή, in the magical sense, in Homer (Od. xix. 457), which takes this group of words in this sense far back beyond 480 b.c. The Homeric use of the word in this sense, however, will not avail against any one who chooses to maintain—though it is impossible to prove, and difficult to believe—that the Greeks originally knew no magic, and borrowed it in Homeric or pre-Homeric times from some neighbouring people. And though the fact that the Twelve Tables ordained punishment for the man ‘qui malum carmen incantassit’ in all reasonable probability indicates that ‘singing’ in the evil sense was a practice already at the time rooted in Italy and not newly imported from abroad; still in this case, as in the case of the Homeric ἑπαοιδή, the objection may be made—though it cannot be supported by anything approaching proof or even probability—that the Italians, as well as the Romans, alone amongst early peoples were incapable of developing the belief for themselves. [Pg 96] As against this objection we can only fall back on the evidence of comparative philology. And that evidence is particularly interesting, because, as interpreted by O. Schrader (Reallexikon der Indogermanischen Altertumskunde, ii. 974), it shows that amongst the Indo-European peoples much the most common expression for doing magic is ‘singing’. The presumption that ‘singing’ of the magical kind goes back to Indo-European times is as strong as any that linguistic evidence can produce. For the Slavonian, Lithuanian, and Teutonic words I will refer to Schrader’s Reallexikon, ii. 975. Of the Greek and Latin words I may mention βασκαίνω and βασκανία, which are connected with βάζω, ‘speak’; γόης and γοητεύω with γόος, ‘howling’; fascinum and fascinare with fari.

If, then, we may with some plausibility illustrate the carmen, the incantatio, and the ἑπαοιδή of the Greeks and the Romans, with the ‘singing’ of the Torres Straits and Central Australia, the question arises, What exactly is it that the magician ‘sings’? In the Torres Straits it apparently is the spear which is ‘sung’, for the words used are, ‘Into body, go, go’; and Messrs. Spencer and Gillen say that in Central Australia also it is the stick or the bone which is ‘sung’. But when we examine the words of the ‘singing’ or charm, as given by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, we find that they do not refer to the stick or the bone which is used in the magical rite, but to the person against whom the rite is directed: ‘May your heart be rent asunder, may your head and throat be split open.’ The inference, therefore, seems to be that it is the victim that the ‘singing’ or spell is originally directed against; and only later that the stick or bone itself comes to be bewitched, just as money, which is valuable for what it will purchase, comes to be regarded by the miser as an end in itself. [Pg 97]

If this is so, it opens up another possibility of interest which I must be content merely to suggest for consideration and investigation. It is that the earliest form of ‘singing’ or spell may be connected with cursing. Some forms of cursing or imprecation invoke the assistance of the gods, but not all; and it may be that those are the earliest which operate directly and without reference to gods. Caliban invokes no gods when he cries:

All the infections that the sun sucks up From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him By inch-meal a disease!


a south-west blow on ye, And blister you all o’er.

And, generally speaking, we may say that what makes cursing terrible and appalling to the ears on which it falls is not any reference to the gods that it may contain—for such references maybe absent—but the fear or horror the man inspires. If he inspires none, his curses go unregarded. If they do terrify, it is because they are felt to have some power. Precisely the same difference, and for precisely the same reason, obtains in the case of witchcraft and magic. Some who practise it are feared, others are not; and the reason is that some are believed to have the power to do the mischief, and others not. But if witchcraft and cursing are both terrible because of the fear they inspire and the power they imply, and if so far they resemble each other, or even possibly have a common psychological origin, they soon begin to follow [Pg 98] different lines of evolution. The essence of cursing is that it is open and loud; and, except when taken up into religion, is not ceremonialized or formalized; whereas the essence of magic is that it is secret in what it does, and its ‘singing’ is a repeated or rhythmical muttering in a low voice. The mere words, ‘May your heart be rent asunder,’ may be a curse or a spell; and, in either case, if they are feared, power is attributed to the person who utters them. Psychologically, it is probable that belief in the power is due to the fear that is felt. But when the belief has been established that a certain person possesses the power, then the belief in the power in its turn engenders fear.

The belief is that the magician or witch has the power to do things. In Macbeth the first witch says:

But in a sieve I’ll thither sail; And, like a rat without a tail, I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.

In the Romance languages there is a series of words for magic and witchcraft, going back to the Latin facio, all expressing this idea of ‘I’ll do, and I’ll do’, and implying that the witch has the power to do—the Middle Latin factura, Italian fattura, Old French faiture, &c. And in the Indo-European languages there are several sets of words for magic and witchcraft, all expressing this same idea, and indicating that it goes back to the earliest Indo-European times. One set running through Sanskrit, Lithuanian, and Old Slavonic implies, as the Sanskrit kṛtyâ shows, that magic is ‘action’ or ‘doing’. The Old Norse görningar, ‘sorceries or witchcraft,’ literally means ‘doing’; and in Old Slavonic the word for magic (po-tvorü) is derived [Pg 99] from a verb meaning ‘to do’. As illustrating the belief that the witch has power, I may refer to Canidia’s words in the Epodes (xvii. 77):

et polo deripere Lunam vocibus possim meis, possim crematos excitare mortuos;

or to Medea’s in Ovid (Met. vii. 206):

iubeoque et mugire solum, manesque exire sepulcris;

and (Rem. Am. 253):

tumulo prodire iubebitur umbra.

Still more clearly does Plato in the Laws (933 a) testify to the belief in the power of the witch or magician: those who dare to do injury by ἐπῳδαῖς, or ‘singing’, are encouraged to do so by the belief that they have the power to do so—ὡς δύνανται τὸ τοιοῦτον—and their victims are thoroughly convinced that they are injured because those who practise on them have the power to bewitch them, ὡς παντὸς μᾶλλον ὑπὸ τούτων δυναμένων γοητεύειν βλάπτονται.

To sum up then, thus far, a magician is a person feared, and having power, which power he exercises in secret, muttering in a low voice, ‘May your heart be rent asunder,’ or ‘your head be split open’, and so on. And this muttering is the carmen, the incantatio, the ἑπαοιδή, the βασκανία and the γοητεία of the Greeks and Romans; the ‘singing’ of the Australian black fellows. That this magical ‘singing’ continued, down to late classical and post-classical times, to be a whispering or a murmuring in a low voice, is easily shown. A lex Cornelia condemned those ‘qui susurris magicis homines occiderunt’ (Just. Inst. iv. 18. [Pg 100] 5). In Ovid we have ‘carmen magico demurmurat ore’ (Met. xiv. 57), and ‘placavit precibusque et murmure longo’ (ib. vii. 251); in Tibullus (i. 2. 47) ‘iam tenet infernas magico stridore catervas’ (where stridor = murmur, as in Sil. Ital. viii. 562); in Apuleius (Metamorph. i. 3), ‘magico susurramine amnes ... reverti,’ and (de Magia, c. 47) ‘et carminibus murmurata’; and in Aristaenetus (Ep. ii. 18), ὑποφθεγγόμενος ἑπικλήσεις καὶ ψιθυρίζων ἁπατηλῶν γοητευμάτων λόγους φρικώδεις, and in the Greek magical papyri ποππυσμός, στεναγμός and συριγμός have the same meaning and use (Wessely, Pap. CXXI, 833-5).

I have next to note that in Australia and the Torres Straits the magician not only mutters words but points in the direction of his victim with a stick, bone, or spear. This gesture seems to be as essential to the desired effect as the ‘singing’ itself. The fact seems to be that the pointing of the stick is a piece of gesture-language conveying the same idea as the words that are sung; in both the power of the magician goes forth and strikes the victim, rending his heart or splitting his head. The question then arises whether we have in Graeco-Italian magic anything that corresponds to this ‘pointing’, as it is termed in Australia, and to the stick thus pointed at the person to be bewitched or enchanted. I can only suggest that the ῥάβδος, or virga, with which, in the Odyssey (x. 238, 319, &c.), Circe works witchcraft, or Hermes, both in the Iliad (xxiv. 343) and the Odyssey (v. 47), entrances men, or Athene transforms Ulysses (xvi. 172), may possibly be a literary version or survival of the primitive pointing-stick become a magic wand. A wand is a common part of a magician‘s outfit. [Pg 101]

The blow or thrust which the magician executes with his pointing-stick or staff is supposed to inflict the injury on his victim; and nothing more may be required or done. But usually the magician is not content merely to point his stick in the direction of his victim. To make sure that the blow reaches the head or the heart, he makes a rough image of his victim out of clay or wax or wood, and stabs that in the appropriate place. In doing so, the savage confuses—and even civilized man does not yet always satisfactorily discriminate between—the categories of likeness and identity. The blow which the magician intends to inflict, and the thrust which he actually deals with his pointing-stick, are like and are meant to be identical, and are believed to be so, and, if he has power, they prove to be identical. The image, also, is, to the mind of the believer, not merely like, but in some manner identical with, the victim who suffers and is consumed, like as and to the same degree as the image, and at the very same moment. The Ojibway Indian believes ‘that wherever the needle pierces or the arrow strikes the image, his foe will the same instant be seized with a sharp pain in the corresponding part of his body’ (Frazer, G. B.2 i. 10). I need not quote instances from Australia or Africa to corroborate this, but, as indicating that the practice goes back to Indo-European times, I may refer to the Rigveda (iii. 523) and the Atharva-Veda (i. 7. 2); and for a Latin parallel to the Indian image pierced by a needle I need only refer to Ovid (Heroides vi. 91, 92):

simulacraque cerea fingit, et miserum tenuis in iecur urget acus.

[Pg 102] For the Greek use of waxen images I may refer to Plato, who in the Laws (933 b) speaks of the alarm felt by men ἄν ποτε ἄρα ἴδωρί που κήρινα μιμήματα πεπλασμένα, and for other instances to O. Kehr, Quaest. Mag. Spec. 12 f. In Theocritus the wax which is spoken of, καρόν, is not indeed described as an image, but it doubtless was; and the mention of it may serve as an excuse for remarking that, though the details into which magic is worked out by different peoples vary considerably, and though the applications which different peoples make of it are far from uniform, still amongst all peoples there are two matters with which magic always, without exception, deals—Love and Death. Thus far it is with the latter that I have dealt. I now, for the moment, turn to the former, and I propose to indicate briefly that the magical methods of procuring Love are precisely the same as those for procuring Death. The power which is used for the one end is equally potent for the other.

For Death-magic, as we have seen, it is essential that the person working magic should believe that he has the power, and that others also should believe him to have it; and all that is necessary is that the magician should put forth the power that he possesses; and this he does by means of words and gesture-language. So too in Love-magic, in the Torres Straits, the essential thing is that the young man should anoint himself on the temples with a paste made from certain plants, and ‘think as intently as possible about the girl’ (Expedition to Torres Straits, vi. 221), saying to himself, ‘You come! you come! you come!’ for, Mr. Haddon tells us, ‘the power of words and the projection [Pg 103] of the will were greatly believed in by the natives’ (220); and when a young man performed the foregoing operations, at a dance or any meeting at which women would be present, ‘the girl could not resist, but was bound to go with him’ (221). In Rome there was the same belief in the power of words: Virgil, in Eclogue viii, imitates Theocritus, but deviates in details, and one such deviation shows the Roman’s belief in the power of words, of the carmen. Whereas Theocritus says:

ἴυγξ, ἔλκε τὺ τῆνον ἑμὸν ποτὶ δῶμα τὸν ἄνδρα,

Virgil says:

Ducite ab urbe domum, mea carmina, ducite Daphnin.

So, too, the power of the spell is attested by Propertius (iv. 4. 51):

O! utinam magicae nossem cantamina Musae,

and Ovid (Her. vi. 83):

Nec facie meritisve placet, sed carmina novit,

and Seneca (Herc. Oet. 464):

Flectemus illum, carmina invenient iter,

and Lucan (vi. 452):

Carmine Thessalidum dura in praecordia fluxit Non fatis addictus amor.

and Tibullus (i. 8. 23):

Quid queror heu misero carmen nocuisse, quid herbas?

In the next place, as Death-magic was considered to gain in efficiency if the magician did not merely ‘point’ with his stick in the direction of his foe, but made an image and wounded it; so Love-magic used a waxen image, and by melting it consumed with love the person imaged: [Pg 104]

Haec ut cera liquescit Uno eodemque igni, sic nostro Daphnis amore.
Ecl. viii. 80.

And in Horace the waxen image is thrown into the flames and consumed:

imagine cerea Largior arserit ignis. Sat. i. 8. 43.

Where sickness, and deaths following on sickness, are ascribed to the action of some malevolent person possessing and exercising mysterious power, that is to say, are explained as being due to magic, the assumption evidently made is that death from sickness is an occurrence which would not take place in the ordinary course of nature, and which therefore must be due to some person who has the power and the art to disturb the ordinary course of nature. This conception of magic is of course not confined to the lower stages of culture; we find it in the definition of the magician given by Quintilian, ‘cuius ars est ire contra naturam’ (Declamationes x. sub fin.). The cure for sickness naturally presents itself as consisting in counteracting the power of the person who produced it. Some one must be procured who possesses power equally great, or greater; and he employs his power in the same way as the person who produced the sickness, but to the opposite end. The author of the sickness ‘sings’ his victim, that is, rhythmically mutters in a low voice, ‘May your heart be rent asunder,’ &c., and, as Mr. Haddon tells us of the Torres Straits natives, ‘thinks as intently [Pg 105] as possible’ (221), or ‘projects his will’. Now, amongst the Indo-European peoples, the person who cured the sickness proceeded in exactly the same way; he too had a carmen, an ἐπῳδή, with which to ‘sing’ his patient. According to the Atharva-Veda (iv. 12) he sang:

Let marrow join to marrow, and let limb to limb be joined. Grow flesh that erst had pined away, and now grow every bone also. Marrow now unite with marrow, and let hide on hide increase.

And the well-known Merseburg charm employs much the same formulae: ‘Let bone to bone and blood to blood and limb to limb be joined.’ Probably Cato’s charm, or carmen auxiliare—good for luxatis membris—was of this kind (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxviii. 21). In the Avesta, healing by singing has a special word for its designation—mᾳθrò-baêšaza. In the Odyssey (xix. 457) the ἑπαοιδή by which the flow of blood from Odysseus’s wound was stayed was a ‘singing’ of the same kind. Amongst the Romans, Pliny says (Hist. Nat. xxviii. 29) ‘carmina quaedam exstant contra grandines contraque morborum genera’. And the Greek word φάρμακον bears double evidence to the same effect; its etymological connexion with Lithuanian words meaning ‘to sing’, in this sense, shows that it was originally an ἑπαοιδή, a charm or a counter-charm; and it is used throughout Greek literature to connote both bane and antidote:

φάρμακα πολλὰ μὲν ἑσθλά ... πολλὰ δὲ λυγρά. Od. iv. 230.

[Pg 106] The Latin mederi, medicus, medicina, like the corresponding term (vi-maδay) in the Avesta, go back to a root meaning wisdom—the wisdom of the ‘wise’ woman. The name ‘Medea’ belongs to the same stock and means ‘wise’ woman; and the wisdom presumably consisted originally in the knowledge of the charms (or ‘carmina contra morborum genera’) and simples, just as the ἱατρός or ἱητήρ may have got his name from ἱός and the fact that he dealt in drugs which might, according as they were used, be either the bane or the antidote. That in Greece the ἱατρὄς originally effected his cures by means of spells, soothing spells, is indicated by Pindar (Pyth. iii. 55), who is doubtless reproducing the popular belief when he says that Chiron loosed and rescued his patients from divers pangs,

τοὺς μὲν μαλακαῖς ἑπαοιδαῖς ἁμφέπων, τοὺς δὲ προσανέα πίνοντας, ἣ γυίοις περάπτων πάντοθεν φάρμακα.

In all ages ‘suggestion’ has operated for good in medical treatment; but it operates only so far as the patient believes that his healer has power and exercises that power to do him good. The medicine-man in early times exercises that power either by gestures which indicate that power is going from him, or by the words with which he banishes or overcomes the sickness. And in either case he effects his faith-healing in exactly the same way as the evil-minded possessor of magical power causes sickness and death by word and gesture, by ‘singing’ and ‘pointing’.

To the mind of the believer in magic the image of a man is not merely like him but is in a mysterious way identical with him, so that blows dealt on the image are felt by the man, and the man and his image are [Pg 107] as closely related to one another as is the exterior of a curve to the interior; and so, to the mind of the believer in magic, the relation of a man’s name to the man himself is equally intimate and close. Hence, by way of precaution, the name of a man is often kept a profound secret. The same secrecy too may be observed about the name of a god, or of a city. It would not be surprising, therefore, if the name of a man were put by the magician to the same use as his image, for the name is, if anything, even more intimately identified with the man than any likeness of him can be; and, as a matter of fact, the secrecy, which is often observed about the name of a man or a god, is observed because control of the name is assumed and believed to involve control over the person. If, therefore, the image of a man can be used for malevolent purposes by a magician, so too may his name. The savage’s objection to being photographed, as is well known, is due to the feeling that with his likeness he himself passes into the power of the possessor. I need hardly point out that pictorial signs and writing and runes are regarded, at first, by those who do not understand them, as mysterious and magical, as σήματα λυγρά. The written name of a person is as intimately bound up with the person’s identity as his likeness or a waxen image of him. The name may therefore be used by the magician for the same purposes and in the same way as the image. If the magician can, as the aborigines of Victoria do, ‘draw on the ground a rude likeness of the victim’ (Frazer, G. B.2 i. 12), if ‘in Eastern Java an enemy may be killed by means of a likeness of him drawn on a piece of paper which is then incensed or buried in the ground’ (ib., 11), it [Pg 108] is obvious that his name, which is identical with him, may be treated in the same way and with the same result. It may be written down and stabbed or incensed or buried in the ground, and the desired result will be produced. Now, just as the Ojibway Indian pierces the image of his enemy with a needle, so the Greek or the Roman wrote down the name of his enemy, drove a nail into it, and then buried it in the ground. This proceeding was called κατάδεσις or defixio. ‘Nailed him’ was doubtless the comforting reflection which accompanied the final blow of the hammer. That it was the name which was nailed, just as the image was pierced by the needle, is not a matter of inference: one of the tablets of this kind, which have come down to us (C. I. A., Appendix continens defixionum tabellas 57), expressly says (line 20) ὄνομα καταδῶ. And, to leave no room for doubting that to nail the name of the enemy was to nail the enemy himself, just as piercing his image with a needle was to pierce the enemy himself, the inscription says ὄνομα καταδῶ καὶ αὐτόν, ‘I nail his name, that is himself.’ The identity of name and person is thus expressly proclaimed; and it is precisely parallel to the identity of the person and his image, or likeness, which we find to be assumed wherever magic is found to exist.

Perhaps I should remark in passing that other things besides a person’s name or image may be ‘nailed’ or ‘defixed’. His footprints may be, and are, thus treated both by savages and by European peasants. In the same way, we learn from Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxviii. 63), the epilepsy which had attacked a man might be ‘nailed down’ and the patient cured by driving an iron nail into the spot touched by the head of the patient [Pg 109] when he fell (‘clavum ferreum defigere in quo locum primum caput fixerit corruens morbo comitiali absolutorium eius mali dicitur’). And there can be little doubt that this kind of ‘defixion’ goes back to very early Italian times, for, from of old when a pestilence raged, a consul might drive a nail into the wall of the Celia Iovis, and so the pestilence was stayed. Perhaps the clavus trabalis which was an attribute of dira Necessitas (Horace, Odes i. 35. 17, iii. 24. 5) belongs to the same range of ideas (cf. Kuhnert’s article on Defixio in Pauly’s Real-Encyclopädie).

Here too I should perhaps say that, as the defixionum tabellae have nails driven through them, there can be little doubt that the verb καταδέω and the substantives κατάδεσις and κατάδεσμος must be used in the sense of hammering a nail in, or fastening with a nail (as Pindar uses the simple verb δέω, in δῆησεν ἄλοις, Pyth. iv. 71), and are not used in this connexion to mean simply ‘tying up’. So too in D. T. A., 96, 97 ἓδησα τὴν γλῶτταν is shown by the convertible expression κέντησον αὐτοῦ τὴν γλῶτταν to mean ‘pierce’ or ‘nail’, and not ‘tie up’.

As then the Ojibway Indian, or the Australian black fellow, or the native of the Torres Straits, does his magic without calling in any god to his assistance, so too the Greek could ‘nail’ his man without applying to the gods; and we have ample inscriptional evidence that he did so. Nearly one-third of the Attic tablets contain merely proper names with a nail driven into them; and about one-third more contain the statement καταδῶ or καταδίδημι, without any reference to gods of any sort or kind. The Latin tablets of the same kind, which like the [Pg 110] Attic tablets are of lead and have nails driven through them, also frequently contain merely proper names and nothing more. Of this kind evidently were those mentioned by Tacitus (Ann. ii. 69), ‘carmina et devotiones et nomen Germanici plumbeis tabulis insculptum.’ It is true that the tablets which have been discovered have mostly been found in tombs. But if we were to seek to found on this fact an argument that the tablets—where they mention no gods—were addressed to the dead, we should have first to show that such tablets were never deposited elsewhere than in tombs. As a matter of fact, a magical papyrus (CXXI, vs. 458) gives instructions as to where a tablet of this kind should be deposited, viz. ἢ ποταμὸν ἢ γῆν ἢ θάλασσαν ἤγουν ἢ θήκην ἢ εἰς φρέαρ. We see therefore a plain reason why most of the tablets that have been preserved have been found in tombs: many, possibly most, were thrown into rivers, or the sea, or disused wells (εἱς φρέαρ ἁχρημάτιστον, Pap. Anast. 351), as in Scotland the clay figure of your enemy is, or was, placed in a burn (Albany Review, iii. 17, p. 532), and therefore have not been preserved to us.

They have been rarely discovered by us, for the simple reason that the person who hid them away was particularly anxious that they should not be discovered. It was important that the person ‘defixed’ should not know by whom or in what way he had been ‘defixed’, for, if he knew, he might undo the spell and retaliate on its worker. The tablet was concealed—often enough in tombs, for graves are avoided—for the same reason that the authors of these tablets often take care not to put their own names to them, viz. in order that the spell might not be [Pg 111] frustrated. But though we cannot attach any great importance to the fact that most of our tablets have been found in tombs, still it is true that many of the Attic tablets, and perhaps most of the Latin tablets, contain a direct and explicit appeal to the gods. Hence it is possible to maintain, and indeed it is usually maintained, as by Wuensch, in the Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, that in all cases these tablets are addressed to the gods; and that, where no gods are mentioned, we must yet suppose that the gods, or some gods, were prayed to fulfil the evil wishes of the person who wrote the name of his victim and pierced it with the nail. The alternative which I venture to suggest is that originally the defixio or κατάδεσμος was purely magical; that, later, an appeal to the gods was added to the original spell; and, last of all, the magical element was overpowered by the religious, or the religious by the magical. In order to decide between these two alternative explanations, what we have to do is to inquire who it is that is supposed by the writer of a tablet of this kind to nail or ‘defix’ or pierce the person who is to suffer. Is it the writer of the tablet, or is it a god? If it is the writer, the proceeding is magical in its nature; if a god, it is religious in its nature. From this point of view we may go so far as to concede that the absence of any mention of the gods on the tablet does not of itself suffice to prove that no thought of them was present in the mind of the writer of the tablet. The decisive question is, Who does the nailing or defixing? Has the writer the power to do it, or must he get a god to do it? The question is perfectly simple, and the answer is perfectly plain; in many or most of the Attic tablets it is the writer who has the power, [Pg 112] and he exercises it. He says, τούτους ἄπαντας καταδῶ (43), τούτους ἑγὼ καταδίδημι ἄπαντας (55); and he exercises his power with no more reference to the gods, and no more thought of them, than the Australian magician when he ‘points’ his stick, or the German peasant girl when she ‘sticht um Mitternacht in eine unter Beschwörungen angezündete Kerze einige Nadeln und spricht: “ich stech das Licht, ich stech das Licht, ich stech das Herz, das ich liebe”’ (Schönwerth, Aus der Oberpfalz: Sitten und Sagen, i, p. 127).

On the other hand are the tablets in which the writer does not profess to ‘defix’ his adversary, and does not claim to be able to ‘defix’ him, but prays to a god to do it, and uses an imperative, κέντησον αὐτοῦ τὴν γλῶσσαν (97), ἄξον καὶ κατάδησον (xxiii).

In such tablets the modus operandi is no longer magical, it is wholly religious; the power to punish lies wholly with the gods, and they are called upon to exercise it. And we are able to trace the process by which the one kind of tablet passed into the other, or by which the one kind came to supersede the other. The first step in the process is illustrated by tablets in which the writer begins by announcing in the traditional magical style, ‘I nail or bind my enemies,’ but goes on—in order to make assurance doubly sure—to add an appeal to a god or gods. Thus in 81 he says καταδέω τοὺς ἑμοὶ ἑχθροὺς πρὸς τὸν Ἐρμῆν. One of these inscriptions (87) can be dated back to the fourth century b.c. When Hermes is thus adjured he is nearly always decorated with the epithet κάτοχον, as in 87 τούτους πάντας καταδῶ πρὸς τὸν κάτοχον Ὲρμῆν. The epithet is not an idle one, as is shown by the fact [Pg 113] that the corresponding verb, κατέχω, is used in these tablets in the imperative in the same sense as κατάδησον. Thus in 88 the prayer to Hermes runs, Ἑρμῆ κάτοχε, κάτεχε φρένας γλῶτταν τοῦ Καλλίου. Hermes, however, is not the only deity to whom the epithet is applied, and this imperative addressed. In 101 Gê is termed Γῆ κάτοχος, and in 98 the prayer is φίλη Γῆ, κάτεχε Εὑρυπτόλεμον. It so happens that in the tablets that have come down to us Hermes and Gê are the only two deities of whom the epithet κάτοχος and the verb κατέχω are used; and Boeckh was probably right in saying (C. I. G. 539) that the earth and Hermes were originally (and, we may add, without any reference to magic at all) called κάτοχοι, because they kept down the dead and prevented them from returning. Then, when the magical practice of nailing down or binding your living foe developed, by an easy transition of ideas the deities, whose business it had originally been to hold down the dead alone, were invoked to hold down and restrain the living also: ‘vocis vis ad καταδέσμων rationem translata videtur, ut iam κάτοχοι θεοί essent ii, qui defixos a magis homines detinerent.’ Thus Earth and Hermes were called in to reinforce the magician’s κατάδεσμος. This is indeed expressly stated on a leaden tablet discovered in Alexandria (Wuensch, p. xv): πότνια Γῆ ὁρκίζω σε κατὰ σοῦ ὁνόματος ποιῆσαι τὴν πρᾶξιν ταύτην καὶ τηρῆσαί μοι τὸν κατάδεσμον τοῦτον καὶ ποιῆσαι αὑτὸν ἑνεργῆ. That the gods are called in to give effect to a magical rite which has been performed is shown by inscriptions 96 and 97, where the tablet begins by saying that the magical rite has been performed, ἑγὼ ἕλαβον καὶ ἔδησα τὴν γλῶτταν καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν κτλ., and then goes on to [Pg 114] pray to the god, κέντησον αὑτοῦ τὴν γλῶτταν κτλ. Here the prayer to the gods is in effect a postscript to the magical rite. So, too, in Ovid (Fasti ii. 575) a ceremony of this kind, which is performed as part of the worship of the Dea Muta, ends up with the declaration that we—viz. the old woman who has performed the rite—we, ‘hostiles linguas inimicaque vinximus ora’; she has used an iron nail and driven it through the head of a maena. But the tendency which manifests itself in the evolution of the Attic tablets is for the postscript to grow in importance and size, until the magic dwindles and almost disappears. For instance, 98 does indeed begin by saying formally Εὑρυπτόλεμον καταδῶ, but the whole of the rest of the inscription is a genuine prayer, φίλη Γῆ κάτεχε, φίλη Γῆ βοήθει μοι. While recognizing however, that this is the tendency in the genuine Attic tablets, it is desirable to notice that in the Roman empire generally the magical element swells until it entirely drives out the religious. All kinds of deity, from religions of every sort, are indeed invoked in these later inscriptions, both Greek and Latin. But they are invoked only to receive commands from the magician and to do his will: in the Hadrumetan tablet of the third century a.d. the deity adjured is just told to go off and fetch Urbanus, ἄπελθε πρὸς τὸν Οὑρβανὸν καὶ ἅξον αὑτόν (Wuensch, p. xvii), and the lady who thus addresses him has the power to order him about because she knows—and bids him hearken to—an ὀνόματος ἑντείμου καὶ φοβεροῦ καὶ μεγάλοῦ. And he is to lose no time about it: the inscription ends, ἥδη ἥδη ταχὺ ταχύ. [Pg 115]

Thus the history of these defixionum tabellae shows how a ceremony, in its origin purely magical, may in the course of its evolution run out in either of two directions: it may either end in what is in effect a prayer, or it may develop into that form of magic in which the magician undertakes boldly to constrain the gods. In the earliest, and purely magical, form of ‘defixion’, the witch or wizard drives a nail or a needle through the written name of the victim, just as he would through a waxen image of the victim. From Ovid (Amores iii. 7. 29) we learn that the witch wrote the victim’s name on wax and then pierced it: ‘sagave poenicea defixit nomina cera.’ In the Parisian Papyrus 316 it is τὸ ὄνομα τῆς ἀγομένης which is thus treated; and in a Latin ‘defixion’ the expression is ‘neca illa nomina’ (Fahz, de poetarum Romanorum doctrina magica, p. 127, n. 4). Then, as the worker of magic drove nails through the head of the waxen image, and is instructed, in the Parisian Papyrus (Rhein. Mus. xlix. 45 ff.), to say, as he does so, περονῶ σου τὸν ἐγκέφαλον, so in the Attic tablets he says (54) τὴν γλῶτταν καταδῶ χεῖρα αὑτοῦ καταδῶ, and drives a nail or nails through the leaden tablet bearing the words. Again, as in course of time the piercing or melting of the waxen image comes to be regarded not as effective in itself but as merely symbolical of the effect which is to be produced, and the words come to be ‘haec ut cera liquescit, sic nostro Daphnis amore’, so in the ‘defixionum tabellae’ (e. g. C. I. L. viii, suppl. n. 12511), after the gods have been adjured, and the order given κατάδησον αὑτῶν τὰ σκέλη κτλ., then, to make it quite clear, it is explained that the legs and hands and head of the victim are to be ‘defixed’ or nailed down in the same way as the feet and [Pg 116] hands and head of this fowl: ὡς οὗτος ὁ ἀλέκτωρ καταδέδεται τοῖς ποσὶ καὶ ταῖς χερσὶ καὶ τῇ κεφαλῇ, οὔτως καταδήσατε τὰ σκέλη καὶ τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὴν καρδίαν Βικτωρικοῦ τοῦ ἡνιόχου. This tablet, which was found in Carthage, is late, and the adjuration is made in the name of the god of heaven that sits upon the Cherubim, τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τῶν Χερουβί. What is noticeable in this tablet and some others of similar date and style is that they contain no allegation that the person on whose behalf the magic is worked and constraint is put upon the gods has been wronged. On the other hand, in the earlier and Attic tablets, especially those which tend in effect to become prayers, the ground of appeal to the gods is some wrong that has been done. Thus 98 ends with the words, φίλη Γῆ βοήθει μοι’ ἀδικούμενος γὰρ ὑπὸ Εὐρυπτολέμου καὶ Ξενοφῶντος καταδῶ αὐτούς. Or it may be some injury that is feared: εἴ τι μέλλειε ὑπὲρ Φίλωνος ῥῆμα μοχθηρὸν φθέγγεσθαι, then τὴν γλῶσσαν καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτῶν κέντησον (97). In Cyprus if what an adversary might say is feared, then the powers invoked are adjured to muzzle him: φιμώσουσιν τὸν ἀντίδικον ἐμοῦ, and the exorcism is termed a φιμωτικοῦ καταθέματος, or a παραθήκην φιμωτικήν. It is, of course, probable, we may even venture to say certain, that in these tablets the appeal to the justice of the gods is essentially religious in its character. And in that case the combination, in these tablets, of magic with religion shows that in the minds of some worshippers of the gods there was no irreconcilable opposition between magic and religion. On the contrary, the feeling evidently was that the gods might properly be invoked to favour and bless a magical rite, just as [Pg 117] they might be prayed to assist any other steps of a more ordinary nature that might be taken. Magic is but one way or means of effecting your end; and it is a means which is just as efficacious for a good end as it is for an evil purpose. The magician is a person who has power, which he may use for evil, or may use for good. He may use his power to cause sickness or to bring misfortune. But he may use it to avert sickness and to muzzle the mouth of the evil-doer. He may use it to make rain, and, while doing so, may pray to the gods for the same purpose. Such a man may have, as he is certainly often believed to have, extraordinary personal power; and there is no obvious reason why he should not pray to the gods to exercise that power in accordance with their will. But he can only pray to the gods if there are gods to whom he can pray. On the other hand, even where there are such gods, he may prefer—and if his purpose be such as the gods condemn, he must prefer—to disregard the gods or, if needs be, to put constraint upon them. That is to say, the extraordinary personal power which he possesses, or is believed to possess, is not in itself either necessarily religious or necessarily irreligious. It may become, or come to be regarded as, either the one or the other. If it is regarded, or rather so far as it is regarded, as irreligious it is condemned: ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ is exactly paralleled by the Athenian law quoted by Demosthenes, φαρμακέα καὶ φαρμακίδα, καὶ αὐτοὺς καὶ τὸ γένος ἅπαν ἀποκτεῖναι (c. Aristogit. i. 793). If we start from this point of view nothing seems more reasonable than to assert a fundamental opposition between magic and religion. On the other hand, if we consider the beneficent use which is made of magic and the fact [Pg 118] that, as in the defixion tablets already quoted, magic and religion may and do work harmoniously together, the relation between them does not seem to be fundamentally one of opposition. The fact would seem to be that this extraordinary personal power, as it is in itself neither good nor bad, but becomes the one or the other according as it is used for good ends or for bad, so it is in itself neither magical nor religious but comes to be regarded as religious if used in the service of the gods, and as magic if used otherwise. But it is not until gods are believed in that this power can be used in their service or regarded as their gift: only when belief in the gods has arisen can the person possessing power be regarded as having derived his power from them, or believe himself so to have derived it. It may well be that his power confirms his belief and strengthens it; it may perhaps even be that his power is the first thing to awaken him to belief in gods and to the possibility of communing with them in his heart. But the belief that there are superior beings, with whom it is possible to commune in one’s heart, is not the same thing as the extraordinary personal power which some men exert over others. Such belief and such power may indeed go together, but they do not by any means always go together; and accordingly the power cannot be regarded as the cause of the belief.

Again, it is not until men come to believe that there are gods, who have the interests of their worshippers at heart, that the man who possesses this power and uses it for evil purposes can be condemned by the opinion of the community as one who works against the community, and therefore against the god who protects the community. In other [Pg 119] words, we may say that this extraordinary personal power does not come to be regarded as magic—indeed, that magic does not come into existence—until religion has come into existence. When exercised by ‘a man of God’, it is religious; when exerted by any one else it is magical. The magician may use, and more often than not, does use his power in a way injurious to other members of the community, and therefore offensive to the god under whose protection they are. From this point of view, therefore, we may justifiably speak of a fundamental opposition between magic and religion. On the other hand, though the magician ordinarily uses his power to injure people, he is not restricted to this use of it. His power may be used to recall an errant lover, as it is by the lady in the Hadrumetan tablet already quoted, or for the recovery of lost or stolen property. One of the ‘defixion’ tablets is directed to the recovery of τὸ ἱμάτιον τὸ πελλόν, τὸ ἔλαβεν ὁ δεῖνα καὶ οὐκ ἀποδίδωτι καὶ ἀρνεῖται καὶ χρῆται (I. G. S. I. 644), another seeks to recover τὰ ὑπ’ ἐμοῦ καταλίφθεντα ἱμάτια καὶ ἔνδυμα (Bechtel, 3537) or τὴν σπατάλην ἢν ἀπώλεσα ἐν τοῖς κήποις τοῖε Ῥοδοκλεῦς (Bechtel, 3541). The magician, that is to say, may use his power for innocent and even laudable purposes. Hence it is that magic is not wholly condemned by any community in which it flourishes; and hence it is that we find magic reinforced by religion not only in the defixionum tabellae, as has already been pointed out, but in numerous rites of uncultured peoples, and from time to time, as survivals, in the religious ceremonies of civilized nations. If we dwell upon this set of facts exclusively, we shall be in danger of inferring, not a [Pg 120] fundamental opposition but a fundamental identity between magic and religion. Yet, as we have seen, the opposition is quite as marked as the similarity; and this seems to indicate that the extraordinary personal power which some men possess, or are believed to possess, is fundamentally the same, whether it is, or whether it is not, exercised in the service of the gods of the community; but the spirit in which it is used, when employed in the one way, is fundamentally opposed to that in which it is used in the other. Such power may in the course of evolution come to be regarded, or come to manifest itself, either as religious or as magical. But in itself, and at the start, inasmuch as it may become either hereafter, it is at the beginning neither. It is the power—whether of ‘suggestion’ or of actual control—which some exceptional men exercise over others.

[Pg 121]


Earlier lectures of this course have dealt with topics suggested by the first civilization of the Aegean, by the first literature of the Greeks, and by the survival in Graeco-Roman culture of traces of a quite unhellenic barbarism.

To-day we come to the fifth century and to the work of the man who stands next after Homer as exponent, on a generous scale, of his country’s thought and life. Homer has shown us Aegean life in a lull between the storms of the Age of Wanderings, between the Achaean and the Dorian Migrations. Herodotus shows us adolescent Greece, the child of Earth and Planet, strangling, like Heracles, the snakes about its cradle, and rising thence to strike down Giants and Monsters, and to enter into its kingdom. This kingdom, for him, is nothing less than the περίοδος γῆς, the orbis terrarum, a rim of convergent coastlands encircling the Midland Sea, which is ‘Our Sea’.

But there is this difference between Homer and Herodotus, when we see them from our present point of view. Homer, and to a great extent the post-Homeric Epic, sang of the world in sheer delight of its objective goodness. Their contribution to anthropological science is the picture which they have given of the world as they saw it and lived in it. The [Pg 122] contribution of anthropology to them is an interpretation of that picture based on comparative study of other worlds than theirs. With Herodotus, too, what first strikes the eye of the anthropological reader is the wealth of detail about the manners and customs of Greeks and their neighbours, a collection unrivalled in Greek literature before the Roman Age in extent and variety, and quite unique in its quality. And for Herodotus, too, the first duty of anthropology is to interpret his picture of mankind; to illustrate by parallel cases; to extract by comparison the genuine observation from the blundered folk-tale commentary; to fill the blanks in the picture itself with such fragments of fifth-century knowledge as have been preserved in other hands than his. To do this adequately would require many lectures, even were his picture of ancient life far more complete than it is; and in the fragmentary state in which Herodotus has transmitted our share of his knowledge, the commentator’s difficulty is increased manifold. A sketch of a single custom, a casual footnote to a footnote of apparently disjointed matter, may well need a monograph to itself. I need only instance, for an Oxford public, the two Herodotean papers in last year’s Anthropological Essays presented to Edward Burnett Tylor.

To this extent Herodotus falls into line with Homer as the subject of lectures like these; but in proportion as he is regarded so, he falls for this practical reason wholly beyond their scope. But there is another aspect of Herodotean anthropology, which is almost wholly absent from Homeric, and is only partially present even in Hesiodic. Between Homer and Herodotus, Greek Reason has come into the world. [Pg 123] After Homer, Greek literature, whether poetry or prose, has its subjective, its reflective side. Man has become the measure of all things; and things are worth observing and recording—they become ἀξιαπήγητα, θέας ἄξια or the reverse, according as they do, or do not, amplify human knowledge already acquired, or prompt or guide human attempts to classify and interpret them. In this high meaning of the word all Greek thought and records are utilitarian, relative to an end in view: and this end is ever anthropocentric, it is nothing less, but it is also nothing more, than the Good Life, the Wellbeing of Mankind. On this broad ground, pre-Socratic and Socratic thought are at one, alike Hellenic in spirit, because alike utilitarian. ‘It is not for this that I speculate,’ said Thales, when he ‘struck oil’. It was precisely for this, to make philosophy useful, that Socrates brought it from heaven down to earth.

So what is proposed, in this lecture, is to attempt an answer to the question, How far was a science of anthropology, in the sense in which we understand it, contemplated as possible in the Great Age of Greece? What were the principles on which it rested? How far had Herodotus and his contemporaries gone in the way of realizing their conceptions of such a science? And what were the causes, external to the study itself, which helped or hindered their realization of it?

It will be clear, I think, from the outset, that this inquiry has nothing to do with the question whether this or that observation on the part of Herodotus was accurately made or not. The only way in which Herodotean error or ‘malignity’ will concern us at all is if the [Pg 124] sources of an error can be so far exposed as to betray what he was thinking about when he made it. For there are two kinds of anthropologists, as there are two kinds of workers in every department of knowledge. But in a science which is still in so infantile a stage as ours, there is more than common distinctness between them.

There is an anthropologist to whom we go for our facts: the painful accurate observer of data, the storehouse of infinite detail; sometimes himself the traveller and explorer, by cunning speech or wiser silence opening the secrets of aboriginal hearts; sometimes the middleman, the broker of traveller’s winnings, insatiate after some new thing, unerring by instinct rather than by experience, to detect false coin, to disinter the pearl of great price, βιβλιοθήκη τις ἔμψυχος καὶ περιπατοῦν μουσεῖον. To him we go for our facts. His views may matter little; his great book may be put together upon whatever ephemeral hypothesis he may choose. We learn his doctrine as we master the method of an index; it will guide us, more or less securely, to the data we want; but it is the document in the footnote that we are looking for, and the compiler’s voucher (express or implicit) that in his judgement ‘this is evidence’.

And there is an anthropologist to whom we look for our light. His learning may be fragmentary, as some men count learning; his memory faulty; his inaccuracy beyond dispute; his inconsistency the one consistent thing about him. But with shattered and rickety instruments he attains results; heedless of epicycles, disrespectful to the equator, he bequeaths his paradoxes to be demonstrated by another [Pg 125] generation of men. He may not know, or reason, perhaps; but he has learnt to see; and what he sees he says. For he too is a μουσεῖον—only in another sense—a Walking Tabernacle of the Nine.[64]

There have been anthropologists, in our own time and before, who have come near to combine both excellences: and in none perhaps are they wholly severed. Least of all do we expect to find both wholly present or wholly absent, in one who has in a sense fallen into anthropology by an accident; and created one science, while he pursued another art. In the Greek compiler who made this ‘the plan of his researches, to procure that human acts should not be obliterated by time, and that great deeds, wrought some by the Greeks, some by men of other speech, should not come to lose their fame’, we cannot but see a man who meant—with good or ill success—to be in the best sense ‘a mine of information’. But it is the same Herodotus who put it before him in his title-page ‘to discover, besides, the reason why they fought with one another’; and that is why we hail him Father of Anthropology, no less than the Father of History.

Either Herodotus knew himself to be hewing out a new avenue of knowledge, a new vista across the world; or he knew himself to be speaking to an audience of men who themselves were ἀνθρωπολόγοι. That is the alternative, for those who are moved to deny his originality. If Herodotus was not in advance of his age, then his age was abreast of Herodotus. It becomes, therefore, our first duty to ask what evidence we possess as to the phase in which the fifth century held in mind the [Pg 126] problems which for us are anthropological. Now apart from the Tragedians and Pindar, Herodotus, as we know to our discomfiture, is the only pre-Socratic thinker whose works have been preserved in bulk: and even his, as we are well assured, are preserved only in bulk, not in their entirety. So even the sceptic is driven back upon the alternative, either of arguing from silence and lacunae, or of disproving the originality of Herodotus from his very proficiency in the subject.

But what can we learn of the state of anthropological knowledge in the days before Herodotus wrote?

The task of the anthropologist is, in its essence, to find an answer to these principal questions:—What is Man? What kinds of Men are there? and how and by what agencies are they formed, and distributed over the lands, as we find them? How is human life propagated under parental sanction, maintained by social institutions, and made tolerable by useful arts? And what part, if any, do either ἀνάγκη or λόγος or τύχη play in defining these processes, and the general career of Mankind as an animal species?

Problems such as these were bound to present themselves sooner or later to so reasonable a people as the Greeks. There is no doubt that they were already so familiar, in the fourth century, as to be almost obsolete as problems. Otherwise we should find more importance attached to them in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. The question before us now is rather, how early did they present themselves; what methods were applied to deal with them; and how far had Greek thought [Pg 127] gone towards a solution, when Socrates stepped down from his Cloud-basket, and substituted psychology as the proper study of Mankind?

To those who are familiar with the early phases of Greek physical inquiry, it is needless to repeat in detail how closely this movement was bound up, in its origin, with that great exploratory movement which littered the shores of the Mediterranean, from Tarsus to Tartessus, and from the Tanais to the Nile, with Greek factories and settlements, and brought all climates, lands, and varieties of men within the scope of one encyclopaedic vision; how the compilers of ‘Circuits of the World’ had surveyed all shores of ‘their own Sea’; how the specialists had treated ‘Air, Water, and Places’ (if I may antedate the later catch-title) in accordance with the principles of their respective sciences; and how, on the other limit of knowledge, Milesian chronologers and astronomers—the latter with no small glimpses into the storehouse of Babylonian observation—had begun to make just such maps of all time human and geological as Milesian cartographers were making of ‘all the sea and all the rivers’. Can we doubt that, in a movement of national inquiry, of this intensity and scope, the question was raised of the origin, the distribution, and the modes of subsistence of Man?

Direct evidence of the existence of an Ionian anthropology has evaded us for the most part. Yet, earlier still, we have the proof that something of the kind was stirring. Hesiod presents us already with a standard scheme of archaeology in which Ages of Gold, Silver, and Bronze succeed each other, classified by their respective artefacts, [Pg 128] and succeeded, first by an Age of Heroes—an anomaly, partly of Homeric authority, partly genuine tradition of the Sea Raids and the Minoan débâcle—and then by an Age of Iron. More than this, the observation that primitive Man was a forest-dweller, who grew no corn, and subsisted on acorns and beech mast, presumes observation, and inference besides, which were perhaps obvious enough among men of the Balkan fringe, ancient and modern; but at the same time betrays a reasonable interest, and an eye for essentials, which are far beyond the average of archaic or barbarian speculation as to human origins.

Some fragments indeed of this pre-Socratic anthropology have come down to us directly; and, wherever they have done so, they show the same curious combination of folk-lore with mature insight, as do the views about non-human nature which are assigned to the same school. The belief, for example,[65] that human beings originated not by animal procreation, but by the operation of trees and rocks on women passing by, hardly differs in kind from the beliefs imputed to the Arunta; and the Hesiodic belief[66] that the men of Aegina were descended from ants, or men in general from stones dropped by Deucalion and Pyrrha,[67] to totemic beliefs or survivals. But the views ascribed to Anaximander, and later to Archelaus, both of Miletus, show something very far in advance of mere folk-lore. The lower animals were commonly believed to have been produced by spontaneous generation, the effect of the sun’s [Pg 129] heat on moist earth, slime, or sea water. Anaximander added the descriptive generalization,[68] based on observations on the shores of the sea about Miletus and the Maeander silt, that these lower forms began their cycle of existence ‘encysted in prickly integuments, and then at maturity came out upon drier ground and shed their shells; but still went on living for a short while’. The older belief, as we have seen, was that men too originated in this way, either directly or from some invertebrate form, like the ants of Aegina. But Anaximander pointed out an obvious difficulty, and supplied also a solution of it. ‘Man,’ he said,[69] ‘was produced in the first instance from animals of a different sort’; and this he argued ‘from the fact that the other animals soon get their food for themselves, and Man alone needs a long period of nursing: for which very reason, a creature of this sort could not possibly have survived’. Here we must note first that a special creation of human beings ready made and mature, as Hebrew thinkers conjectured, and Greek poets had devised in the case of Pandora, was unthinkable to an Ionian naturalist, and merely does not come into question; secondly, that a special creation of human beings in infancy is equally ruled out by the fact of the long helplessness of the human infant; thirdly, that the inevitable alternative is accepted without a hint of hesitation, namely, that Mankind must have developed from some other kind of animal, which, though not human, could and did fend for its young during such an infancy as Man’s. Only unacquaintance with the great apes of the tropical world, and very imperfect acquaintance even [Pg 130] with imported monkeys, can have prevented Anaximander from assigning to Man his proper place in an evolutionary Order of Primates. The other half of our knowledge of Anaximander’s anthropology is even more instructive. ‘It is clear,’ he says,[70] ‘that men were first produced within fishes, and nourished like the “mud fish”—τραφέντας ὤσπερ οἱ πηλαῖοι; and, when they were competent to fend for themselves, were thereupon cast on shore (or perhaps “hatched out”) and took to the land.’ Our knowledge of the πηλαῖοι is limited; but the parallel passage throws some light on Anaximander’s theory. ‘The animals came into existence by a process of evaporation by the sun; but man came into existence in the likeness of another animal, namely, a fish, to begin with.’ Here the theory is, clearly, that there was a stage in the evolution of Man when he ceased to conform to the type even of the highest of marine animals; and it was in the guise of some kind of fish that he took to the land. It is not so clear whether we have here merely the conjecture that at some stage marine vertebrates took the crucial step and invaded the dry land; or whether, also, the similitude of the ‘mud-fish’ is used to report observations which are familiar enough to embryologists now, and in the fifth century were no less familiar to Hippocrates.[71] In any case the views in points of detail which are reported as characteristic of Anaximander presuppose an almost Darwinian outlook on the animal kingdom, and an understanding of comparative anatomy, which hardly becomes possible again before the Renaissance. [Pg 131]

No less striking is the testimony of the fragment of Archelaus,[72] one of the immediate teachers of Socrates, to the same evolutionary view. ‘Concerning animals he said that when the earth became warm in the beginning in its lower part, where the hot and the cold were mixed, there came to light the rest of the animals, of many dissimilar kinds, but all with the same mode of life, maintained of the slime; and they were short-lived. But, afterwards, interbreeding occurred among these, and men were separated off from the rest, and they constituted leaders and customs and arts and cities and so forth. And, he says, reason is implanted in all animals alike; for each uses it according to his bodily frame, one more tardily, another more promptly.’ Here again we have the biological theory of evolution in a most explicit form, with the same distinction as in Anaximander between the short-lived, infusorian, almost amorphous fauna of sun-warmed water or slime, and the higher orders of thinking vertebrates, among whom Man stands merely as an exceptionally rational species.

After this, it is almost needless to note that the physical anthropology of the Greeks was quite unimpeded by those literary misconceptions which so long retarded the study of Man in the modern world. Hecataeus, indeed, had at one time been misled by the shortness of Greek pedigrees; but his Egyptian researches gave him in good time [Pg 132] the larger perspective,[73] as even his critic Herodotus admits. And the first reporter of the fact that Egypt is the ‘gift of the Nile’ can hardly have failed to see the bearing of this piece of geology upon the question of the antiquity of Man. Herodotus, at all events, has no illusions.[74] Achelous and other rivers are there to show that the Nile is no freak of nature; time future can be postulated to the extent of twenty thousand years; and time past may be measured on the same scale, for the perfecting of the Nile’s gift, not to mention the further periods required for the deposit of the shells in the Pyramid limestone.[75] More explicitly still, he is prepared to allow indefinite time for the development and dissemination of human varieties. How the Danubian Sigynnae came to be colonists of the Medes, he is not prepared to say; but the thing itself is not in his view impossible. γένοιτο δ’ ἂν πᾶν ἐν τῷ μακρῷ χρόνῳ.[76]

It is at this point in our story that we must look at the evidence of Aeschylus. Small as is that portion of his works which has come down to us, it is of high value, both as a record of current knowledge, and as an indication of the contemporary phases of theory. Already we have the elements of the later threefold division of the anthropological horizon corresponding essentially with the tri-continental scheme of the geographers, with which we know from a fragment of Prometheus Solutus that Aeschylus was acquainted at a stage of its development, which the quotation fixes for us precisely.[77] Ethnologically, the ἐσχατιαί are [Pg 133] as follows:—Northwards, are found the Hyperboreans.[78] Eastwards, lie the Indians; they are camel-riding nomads, and live next to the Aethiopians.[79] Southward come the Aethiopians proper,[80] with Egypt, the gift of the Nile,[81] and Libya. The black skin of the Aethiopians is sun-tanned.[82] Aethiopia embraces everything from the φοινικόπεδον ἐρυθρᾶς ἲερὸν χεῦμα θαλάσσης to the χαλκοκέραυνον παρ’ Ὠκεανῷ λίμναν παντοτρόφον Αἰθιόπων where the Sun rests his horses;[83] that is, from the southern margin of Asia (where the Indians live) to the far South-West. In front of the Aethiopians lie the Libyans; in front of the Indians the Empire of Persia (for there are no Indians in the Persae, and Bactria is the remotest province); in front of the Hyperboreans, the Scythians, the Abioi of Homer, and the Arimaspi; all nomad pastoral peoples.

At the margin of ethnological Man, sometimes merely unisexual, sometimes misanthrope, stand the Amazons: in the Supplices they seem to stand for the North,[84] and they lie beyond Caucasus in the Prometheus;[85] beyond that margin, there are the one-eyed, breast-eyed, and dog-headed tribes of Hesiod and of common report.

Hesiodic too, in its main outlines, is the sketch of primitive Man in the Prometheus, with its hint of spontaneous generation[86] and its fourfold scheme of useful metals.

But for Aeschylus the tribes of men are sundered rather by culture than by race. The two women in Atossa’s dream are like sisters in form and [Pg 134] figure; it is by their dress that she knows one of them to be Persian, the other Greek.[87] So, too, the king in the Supplices[88] knows the Danaid chorus for foreign women by their dress. They might be Amazons, for there are no men with them; but no! they carry no bows.[89] Stay! they do carry κλάδοι: that surely is Greek.[90] μόνον τὁδ’ Ὲλλὰς χθὼν συνοίσεται στόχῳ. Only in the second place comes language, to decide in a case where dress and accessories are indecisive;[91] and only when the Danaids assure him that they are really Argive, and of his own kin, are new doubts raised by their build and complexion,[92] and he questions again whether they are Libyans (with the Nile and the Κύπριος χαρακτήρ thrown in, for the aesthetic types of Egyptian and Graeco-Assyrian art), or Indians, or Amazons; outlanders, that is, of the South, the East, or the North, as we have seen.

These preliminary notes have been designed to give such retrospect over the course of Greek anthropological theory as our fragmentary sources allow: but they have been enough, I hope, to show where matters stood in the lifetime of Herodotus, and also to some degree what the burning questions—or some of them—were. Now we come to Herodotus himself, to take the elements of his anthropology in similar order, and put them into their respective places.

First then, Herodotus gives us for the first time a reasoned scheme of ethnological criteria; and it marks at once an advance on that of [Pg 135] Aeschylus, and an important modification of it. In the famous passage where the Athenians reject the proposals of Alexander of Macedon, and against immense inducements refuse to desert the Greek cause, they state as their inducement the fourfold bond which holds a nation together. ‘Greece,’ they reply,[93] ‘is of one blood; and of one speech; and has dwelling-places of gods in common, and sacrifices to them; and habits of similar customs’: and that is why the Athenians cannot betray their nation. Common descent, common language, common religion, and common culture: these are the four things which make a nation one; and, conversely, the things which, if unconformable, hold nations apart. To this analysis, modern ethnology has little or nothing to add. It might be said, as Professor Flinders Petrie has suggested,[94] that identity of religious beliefs is in the last resort only a peculiarly refined test of conformity of behaviour between man and man; and that community of culture, beyond dumb interchange of artefacts, is inconceivable without community of speech. But the mode of propagation, both of language and of religious observance, differs so greatly in kind from that of the transmission of material culture, that the forcible reduction of the four criteria of Herodotus to the two major criteria of Physique and Culture fails us in practice almost as soon as it is made. So far as Herodotus presents us with an ordered scheme of anthropological thought—with a science of anthropology, in fact—he is little, if at all, behind the best thought of our own day. [Pg 136]

It is not, I think, pressing his language too far, if we regard him as stating these four criteria in what he regarded as the order of their relative importance. First, for scientific as for political purposes, comes community of descent; next, community of language; then community of religion; and general community of observance, in daily life, only at the end of all. Contrast with this the method of inquiry in the Supplices, where, as we saw, dress and equipment come first, then religious observance, then language; and physique is postponed to all three. That this is not accidental will be seen, I think, from an example of the Herodotean anthropology when applied, so to speak, ‘in the field,’ to the description of the northern Argippaei where each successive criterion is introduced by δὲ which is adversative to the preceding clause.[95] Here the physical anthropology is given first; then the language, which distinguishes these Argippaei from all other men, and so forms a cross division athwart the criterion of physique; then, though they have a language of their own, yet, till they speak to you, you would not think it, for their dress is Scythian; but after all, Scythians they cannot be, because no Scythian lives on tree-fruit. He is a pastoral nomad, or at best an ἀροτὴρ ἐπὶ πρήσι. Here ἤθεα ὁμότροπα hold the last and lowest place; and the cause of this is plain: for their witness agrees not together. [Pg 137]

There is a reason for this new emphasis on community of blood and of language in the anthropology of Herodotus. If the Persian War had shown nothing else, it had shown the superior efficiency of an army which was mutually intelligible, over one which might have met, not in Kritalla, but in Shinar; and even more forcibly it had impressed the belief, that what mattered was not equipment, nor language, but breed. It was the Persians who could survey and mark a sea channel like a modern Admiralty,[96] and amazed their captive by those unfamiliar drugs and ‘shield-straps made of silky linen’ which we call surgical bandages;[97] but it was their prisoner Pytheus who amazed them by the physique and the training which brought him through, when he was literally ‘mangled to butcher’s meat’.

And there is another reason for this emphasis. Right in sight of Halicarnassus, and hardly two hours’ sail, lies the town of Cos, and in its agora to-day stands the great plane-tree of Hippocrates; and during the lifetime of Herodotus there was growing up there that latest and fairest flower of pre-Socratic knowledge, the Coan medical school, with an anatomy, a physiology, and an anthropology of its own, superior by far to anything which succeeded it until the seventeenth century.

In what relation the professional science of Hippocrates stood to the penumbral knowledge of Herodotus, and also to the learning and speculations of their predecessors, may be illustrated from their respective treatment of the phenomenon of beardlessness in Man. [Pg 138]

All Mediterranean peoples, and all sedentary peoples of the European mainland, agree in this, that their adult males have copious hair upon the face. Herodotus and his contemporaries had no means of foreseeing that this was really the exception rather than the rule among human varieties; that neither the yellow- nor the black-skinned races have this appendage except in a rudimentary degree, and in circumstances which suggest contamination more or less direct with the white men of the north-western quadrant of the Old World. Only the fact that the Australians are hairier in face and person even than the whites saves us from the temptation to adopt into anthropology the popular superstition that the long beard is correlated with the superior brain. But for Herodotus and the Greek world, beards on men were the rule, and beardlessness an abnormality to be explained.

Now from Homeric times, and before, the Nearer East had been startled by the raids of a warrior people governed and defended by beardless creatures of wondrous horsemanship and archery, their bows in particular such as no mere man could use; inspired, moreover, with a fury like the fury of a woman, against everything that showed a beard. Beyond the Caucasus they ate their prisoners; in Tauris they killed all men, at the bidding of beardless leaders;[98] one band of them penetrated into free Scythia, and were actually taken for women; among their Sarmatian descendants men and women hunted and fought side by side. But they were not confined to the trans-Euxine grassland. In Asia Minor, when King Priam was a lad, they had occupied [Pg 139] the plateau, and were resisting the Thraco-Phrygian invasion. Further to the South-East, another body of them had harried all Assyria in the seventh century, and at Askalon their beardless descendants survived. τοῖσι τούτων αἰεὶ ἐκγόνοισι ἐνέσκηψε ὁ θεὸς vήλεαν vοῦσον. The same defect was observable in one element in the male population of Scythia in the fifth century.[99] Here we detect three stages of discovery. First, the beardless people are assumed to be women. Next it is discovered, both in Scythia and in Palestine, that though beardless (and indeed otherwise hairless) they are really men. Thirdly, the collateral discovery that some mounted archers were actually women, as in Sarmatia, is held to reaffirm the legends of Amazons; in spite of the fact that their Sarmatian descendants were known to belong to a bisexual society, and talked a dialect of Scythian. Thus Herodotus and his predecessors were put, after all, on a wrong track, in their inquiry why some Scythians are beardless, and some are not. The test case is at Askalon; where the Scythians who remained were admittedly beardless; and the guess was loosely accepted, that all the bearded ones had escaped the curse and gone away. The outstanding fact is the presence of similar ἀνδρόγυνοι in Scythia itself; and at this point, candid as ever, Herodotus throws the outstanding fact into his reader’s lap, and passes on to other things.

At this point we turn to Hippocrates. Here we are at once in the full current of Ionic rationalism. The theological explanation of the [Pg 140] phenomena is rejected at the outset. ‘For my own part, I think these ailments are from God, and all the other ailments too; and no one of them more divine than another, or more human either, but all alike from God. Each of such things has a process of growth, and nothing comes into being without a process of growth.’[100]

The ground thus cleared, Hippocrates notes four points. In the first place beardlessness, and its reputed concomitants, were limited to Scythians of wealth, which he explains to be synonymous with hereditary rank; or at least were most common among these. Hippocrates, it is true, puts this down to their equestrian habit, not to a difference of race. Yet it is clear, from Herodotus’ account, that the Scythian aristocracy were the result of a quite recent irruption of a purely nomad people from beyond the Tanais, which had displaced, though not wholly, the former population of Scythia. Secondly, he observes that the Scythians in general differ wholly in physique from the rest of the peoples of Europe; but he does not on that ground raise the question of an immigrant origin. The reason for this omission, however, is clear from his third point, that the abnormality in question is such as might be predicted from a consideration of the climate and mode of life of any human inhabitants of Scythia. After this, his fourth point brings him right up to the brink of discovery, though it is not pressed to its logical conclusion by further research; for he is clear both that the beardlessness could exist without further disabilities, and also that, [Pg 141] in addition to climate and customs conducive to this bodily habit, the Scythians were naturally inclined to be beardless. But the first of these facts he ascribes, not without professional excuse, to successful preventive treatment; and the latter was clearly regarded by him as the incipient effect of climate and the like upon persons who were congenitally normal. It is curious, meanwhile, that he does not make use of the crucial instance of the beardless Scythians at Askalon, to test his conclusion that beardlessness and the like are the effect of climate; for the climate of Askalon differs from that of Scythia in almost every important particular. It is permissible, however, to suggest that we have here one of the numerous instances in which important statements are recorded by Herodotus, which, whether true or false in themselves, failed for some reason to become assimilated by the learned world of the fourth century.

Herodotus, however, was still anything but satisfied as to the paramount value of the physical criterion of kinship. In the majority of cases it proved either too much or too little. A good instance is his comparison of the Colchians with the Egyptians. Here he bases his argument for their affinity on their common physical characters, dark skin and woolly hair. But this proves too much: there are other peoples with dark skin and woolly hair, who are certainly not of Egyptian origin. On the other hand it proves too little; for what he proposes to establish here is not a general community of origin, but direct Egyptian colonization within historic times. For this proof, he prefers to rely on the evidence of a ceremonial custom which he regards as [Pg 142] typically African; for it is both Egyptian and Aethiopian; and, as it happens to be a custom involving mutilation of the person, it belongs, as we shall see presently, to a class of observances which were regarded by Greek anthropology as competent to effect real changes of physique in course of time. The merely external evidence of a common industry, such as the linen-weaving which he adduces here, clearly stands for Herodotus on a lower plane, along with their general similarity of culture and language.

Clearly Herodotus was not quite satisfied as to the value of racial types in anthropology. And there were several reasons for this. On the one hand, the Greeks themselves held family tradition to be good evidence of common descent; and as a matter of fact, the professional genealogist had been beforehand with the anthropologist at nearly all points within the Greek-speaking world. Traditions of common descent, in fact, were too deeply fixed already in popular belief, and involved too many practical questions, such as the rights to real property, or to political privilege, to be treated as anything but valid evidence of kinship. Consequently a people’s own account of their origin, or whatever story was accepted as such, was held to be evidence of a high order. Such price did Greek science pay for the actual solidarity of Greek phylic institutions.

For example, the Sigynnae of the Middle Danube ‘say that they are a colony of Medes. How they have come to be a colony of Medes, I for my part cannot say for certain: yet anything might happen if you give it [Pg 143] long enough’.[101] Herodotus is prepared, that is, to allow infinite time to accomplish an almost impossible migration, rather than give up what he accepts as a people’s own account of their origin. But obviously this principle of ethnography was likely to lead to great difficulties. The Sigynnae, it is true, wore ‘Median dress’, presumably trousers of some kind, and perhaps a shaped cap with ear-guards, no less suitable to a Danubian than to a Median winter. But what of their physique? In this instance Herodotus gives no details; but clearly if conflict were to occur between the evidence for descent and for physique—if, that is, a people claimed descent from another people of a different physical type—it might be the difference of physique which would stand in need of explanation.

There was another reason, besides, why traditions of common descent should seem to deserve tender treatment, even when geographical probability was against them. The whole Eastern Mediterranean was still but imperfectly recovering itself after one of those periods of prolonged and intense ethnic stress to which it is exposed by the permeability of its northern frontier. From Thrace to Crete there were fragmentary patches of Pelasgians; Phrygians from Macedon to Peloponnese, far up the Adriatic, and in Western Sicily; Thracians in Naxos and Attica; and Lydians at Askalon. The Ionian merchant, like the Venetian of a later time, found everywhere before him the tracks of the crusading Achaean. The Dorian Spartan in Cyprus, at Soli and Kerynia, found Kurion already the colony of an earlier Argos; at Tarentum he merely filled a vacant niche in an Achaean, almost a Homeric Italy. If [Pg 144] things like these could happen within four or five hundred years, γένοιτο δ’ ἂν πᾶν ἐν τῷ μακρῷ χρόνῷ. Outside the Greek world it was the same. Where Sesostris had been, the Scythian and Kimmerian had followed, leaving their trail at Sinope and Askalon, as he in Colchis. Nebuchadnezzar had set the Jews by the waters of Babylon. Darius was but following the rule when he moved Paeonians to Asia Minor, and transplanted Eretrians to Ardericca.

There was another reason also why racial type should be held liable to easy change. The Greeks themselves, and most of their neighbours, were mongrel peoples, for reasons which we have just seen; and there is no doubt that climate and mode of life were actually resulting in ruthless and rapid elimination of intrusive types, wherever these were intolerant of Mediterranean conditions. Now in most of the states of Ionia the blood of the citizens was mixed beyond hope of disentanglement, even by family tradition; for family tradition, as Professor Murray has shown us,[102] was for the most part shattered in the migrations. Yet the external conditions were the same for all; and men saw their blonder kinsmen and townsmen fade and cease out of the land, without fully realizing that what needed explanation was not their failure to survive, but their presence in those latitudes at all. The result, for ethnology, was to encourage a belief that mankind in itself was a pure-bred species, one and indivisible like any other natural kind; and that the marked variations between white and black, straight-haired and woolly-haired peoples, were exclusively the result of climatic, if not human, selection. [Pg 145]

Yet another consideration drove men’s thoughts inevitably in the same connexion. One of the best inheritances of Greece from the Minoan world was an elaborate apparatus of cultivated plants and animals: our evidence from dogs, and olive-kernels, begins, I think, to justify this view.[103] And in so minutely subdivided a region, special breeds of local origin were bound to result at an early phase of industry; and to be compared and discussed in the markets and on the quays. Every one knew, in fact, that domesticated animals and plants, under human direction, were tolerant of almost infinite and very rapid alteration: and Man himself is the most highly domesticated of all. It is no wonder then that in the fourth century Socrates is represented as arguing habitually as if Man were a domesticated animal, whose breed could be improved at will, and in any direction, physical or psychological. For even psychological breeding had long been reduced to an art, both with horses and with dogs.

Demonstrable migrations of men, therefore, and demonstrable mutations both of men and of animals, offered evidence of a kind which it was difficult to overlook, that natural characters were variable, and also that acquired ones could become hereditary. It was, in fact, not because the Greeks knew so little, but because on certain crucial points they already knew so much, that they formed the views they did as to the instability of human varieties. How far these views were pressed to their conclusions will be seen best, I think, from a glance at the teaching of Hippocrates, which we may safely take to be near the highwater-mark of fifth-century thought on immediately pre-Socratic lines. [Pg 146]

A good example of the doctrine of Hippocrates is contained in his anthropology of the Phasis valley, a region which falls sufficiently within the same limits as the Colchis of Herodotus to be worth comparing with his description of the Colchians. Indeed there is some reason to believe that, for reasons both of geographical theory and of popular ideas of utility, this corner of Hither Asia was attracting a good deal of learned attention from the physicists of Greece. This is what Hippocrates[104] has to say about the Phasis and its people. ‘That country is marshy and warm and well watered and thickly clothed with vegetation, and there is heavy and violent rainfall there at all seasons, and the habitat of its men is in the marshes, and their houses are of wood and rushes ingeniously erected in the water, and they do but little walking to and from town and market, but they sail to and fro in dug-out canoes. For there are numerous artificial canals. The waters they drink are warm and stagnant and putrefied by the sun, and replenished by the rains. The Phasis itself too is the most stagnant of all rivers, and of the gentlest current. And the fruits which grow there are all unwholesome, for they are effeminated [he is thinking of the abundance of fleshy pulpy fruit, like the stone fruits—plums, apricots, and nectarines—which were characteristic of this region in antiquity] and flabby by reason of the abundance of water. And that is [Pg 147] why they do not ripen fully. And much mist envelops the country as a result of the water. For just these reasons the Phasians have their bodily forms different from those of all other men. For in stature they are tall, in breadth they are excessively broad, and no joint or vein is to be seen upon them. Their complexion is yellow as if they had the jaundice. Their voice is the deepest of all men’s, because their atmosphere is not clear but foggy and moist. And for bodily exertion they are naturally somewhat disinclined.’

Here we see an unqualified doctrine of the plasticity of human nature, physical and mental, under the influence of climate and geographical environment, such as his description of the Scythians has led us to suspect already. An adjacent passage adds the further theoretical point, that even acquired variations of wholly artificial character may become hereditary in time. The case is that of the Macrocephali, whose haunts unfortunately are not specified.[105] ‘In the beginning it was their custom which was chiefly responsible for the length of their head, but now, their mode of growth too reinforces their custom. For they regard as best bred those who have the longest head.’ Then he describes how the heads are remodelled in infancy by massage and bandaging; and proceeds: ‘At the beginning the practice itself had the result that their mode of growth was of this kind. But as time went on, it came to be inbred so that their law was no longer compulsory:’ ἐν φύσει ἐγένετο, ὤστε τὸν νόμον μηκέτι ἀναγκάζειν. He then explains that just as baldness and grey eyes and physical [Pg 148] deformities are hereditary (for he makes no distinction between natural and acquired varieties), ‘now similarly they do not grow at all as they did before: for the practice has no longer any force, through the people’s own neglect of it.’

The bearing of this passage, and the doctrine which it expounds, on Herodotus’ account of the Colchi, will be obvious at once. Clearly, if the proportions of the head can be affected by artificial pressure, reinforced by social selection of the most successfully deformed—that is to say, of the individuals with the softest skulls; and if, as Hippocrates clearly thought, the colour of the eyes, and presence or absence of hair, were characters of the same order of transmissibility; and if, further, as in the case of the Phasians, skin-colour and bodily proportions resulted from climate and occupation; then clearly it mattered comparatively little to Herodotus whether the Colchians were woolly-haired or not. Woolly hair, like baldness, could be inherited indeed; but it could also be superinduced, like macrocephaly, by assiduous curling, or, as every barber knows, by the subtler influence of atmospheric moisture. It is consequently not only because, as suggested above, there were other woolly-haired people, besides the Egyptians and Colchians who were in question, that Herodotus has recourse to other evidence than that of physique to prove their identity: it is because, for fifth-century anthropology, the evidence of physique itself did not justify conclusions of appreciably higher validity than those which resulted from the comparison of industries or customs. [Pg 149]

It will be seen from all this that in questions relating to the evolution of Man, Herodotus exhibits—and shares with the whole thought of his time—precisely the opposite weakness to that of the pioneers of modern anthropology. His mistakes arise, not because he is unable to allow time enough for evolutionary changes, but because he tries to crowd too great an amplitude of change into the liberal allowance of time which he is prepared to grant. Ten thousand years, or even twenty thousand, would be a short allowance, in modern geology, for even so active a river as the Nile to fill up the whole Red Sea; but it is more than double the whole length allotted to ‘geological time’ within the memory of men still living.

It will also be clear how deep was the impression created on the Greek mind by the minor changes of the seasons and of history. The formula of Heracleitus, πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει, had indeed its application to metaphysic; but its origin was in physical science, as a generalization from experience. It had its negative interest as an implement of sceptical destruction. But it had also a high positive value, for it formulated the present as transitional from the past to the future; it emphasized the kinetic and physiological aspect of nature and of science, which has ever been of so far higher value, in research, as in life, than the static and morphological; it substituted an analysis of processes for classification of the qualities of things.

Now it is to this phase of scientific theory that we must assign the first intrusion into scientific terminology of the twin words φύσις and νόμος; in their primitive sense they denote nothing else than precisely such natural processes in themselves, on the one hand, and man’s formulation of such processes, on the other. [Pg 150]

It is the more important to keep in mind this fundamental conception of Greek physical anthropology when we go on to consider either the treatment of the evidence of language and culture, which we find in Herodotus, or the applications of physical classification to the purposes of logic and metaphysic. To take the latter first: a doctrine of the real existence of natural kinds, corresponding each, as Hippocrates would put it, to a process of growth peculiar to itself, was clearly easier to understand, if not to discover and formulate, when the men who were to discuss it were already brought up to regard the animal world, for example, as consisting of a comparatively small number of fundamental types, and the infinite variety of individual and regional forms as the effect of external forces upon them. Each actual example of horse or dog, for example, was to be regarded on the one hand as the embodiment of a true equine or canine nature, which reason might hope to detect and isolate; but on the other, it lay like the god Glaucus, encrusted with accidental qualities, the effects of its exposure to a particular environment. Seen in the light of their pre-Socratic history, as elements in the terminology of a great school of naturalists, the catch-words φύσις, γένος, εἶδος, and συμβεβηκὸς gain something, I think, in significance. In particular, it becomes clearer why the word εἶδος, which continued to be used among the naturalists for the specific outcome of συμβεβηκότα upon a member or members of a γένος, came among the philosophers to supersede the word γἑνος in proportion as the centre of reflective interest shifted from the objective exponent of a φύσις to the subjective standpoint of the philosophic observer. [Pg 151]

For Herodotus, meanwhile, language and culture can change under stress of circumstances in just the same way as physique; and therefrom follows the possibility of the transmission of culture. Whether any particular custom was to be regarded as innate in the φύσις of those who practised it, or as their response to the stresses of their present environment, or as the result, whether conformable to the environment or not, of intercourse with another variety of Man, was a question to be settled on the merits of each case. It was, in fact, partly the laxness of interest in such matters which resulted from the prevalent theory, and only partly the admitted incompleteness of the observations, that kept ethnographical speculation in so backward a state as we find it in Herodotus’ time. Until the belief in stronger specific characters could be supplemented by some doctrine of cultural momentum, the conception of progress in civilization was hardly attainable at all. This is where the treatment of Hellenic civilization by Herodotus stands in so marked a contrast with his treatment of the civilizations of Egypt and Outland. Egyptian civilization, like Egypt itself, is the gift of the Nile; the φύσις of an Indian attains its τέλος when he has ridden his camels and rescued his gold; the men are black, or tall, or longlived as the effect of natural causes; and as long as these causes persist, so long will there be Indians or Aethiopians with those qualities. Only in Greece is there mastery of man over nature, and that not because nature is less strong, but because Greek man is strong enough to dominate it. [Pg 152]

This is how it comes about that barriers of language and of culture, no less than barriers of descent, are powerless in face of a well-defined γένος with a potent φύσις of its own. Such a γἑνος can add to the number of individuals which compose it. Pelasgians and Lelegians can become Hellenes. For Herodotus, as I have explained more in detail elsewhere, the process of conversion of barbarians to the Hellenic φύσις is not clear: the verbs which he employs, μετέβαλον, μετέμαθον, are intransitive; the general impression which is conveyed is of a kind of spontaneous generation: and the same language is used when τὸ Ἐλληνικόν is described as ἀποσχισθὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ βαρβἀρου, in the earliest phase of all. For Thucydides, on the other hand—as was natural to an Athenian who had seen Atticism triumphant in Hellas—Hellenism is acquired by contact with, and imitation of, the φύσις of a genuine Hellene. Of course this explanation of Pelasgian conversion only pushes the problem itself one stage further back; but it marks a distinct advance in analysis beyond the point reached by Herodotus; and it is an advance in precisely the opposite direction to that in which naturalists like Hippocrates were being led through their greater insistence on the external factors, which were the main subject of their study. Thucydides in fact stands already on the Socratic side of the line. The explanation of the transmissibility of culture is to be sought for him not in physiology, but in psychology—not in spontaneous or coercive adjustment to inexorable nature, but in intercourse with enlightened minds.

Among the many different classes of information which Herodotus inclines to give about foreign peoples, two kinds of data are more insistently recorded than the others. There are the marriage customs, [Pg 153] and the principal source of food. These will be admitted to be obvious points to note; but there was a special motive in the fifth century for collecting each of them; and the history of thought in the century which followed allows us to trace this motive forward into a maturer context.

The problem of the status of the sexes in society was not a new one in fourth-century Greece. As far back, indeed, as we can trace social institutions directly at all, society in Greece had been constituted on patriarchal lines. But patriarchal institutions had far less undisputed acceptance in the Greek world than they had for example in Italy. It was not merely that Attic rules of inheritance gave a definite, though at all times secondary, status to the mother’s kindred; or that in Sparta, Thebes, and some other states, the women enjoyed in many respects a social equality with the men which has been explained in more ways than one. An Ionian Greek had only to travel down his own coast as far as Lycia to find men reckoning descent through the mother, or to travel back in imagination to the legendary origins of his own people, to find that their pedigrees went often up, not to a god, but to a woman. Olympian society was the same. The consort of Zeus held a very different position from that of the wife in a patriarchal household; and on the Asiatic shore, at least, the gods themselves were traced back to a Mother, not to a Father, of them all.

Hints, too, were not wanting as to the recent arrival, and un-Aegean origin, of the patriarchal system, which had now prevailed, with its proprietary view of women; and, no less, of the loose hold which this [Pg 154] set of customs had upon the popular belief and opinion. In the opening chapters of his history, Herodotus states, and allows his Περσέων λὁγιοι to criticize freely, what might be summarized as a cherchez-la-femme theory of the Eastern Question: and the criticism which he records amounts essentially to the question, ‘Does the position of women in society, as we know it, justify the attempts which have been made to explain the great quarrel by incidents such as those of Io, Medea, and Helen?’ Now this criticism is not merely Persian, nor even Herodotean; the problem whether the Trojan War was really fought about Helen was at least as old as Stesichorus. No sooner did the wakening mind of Hellas cease merely to believe Homer, and begin to think about him, than it struck at once upon this very paradox:—‘Homer says, and insists throughout, that all the war was wrought for Helen’s sake; but do we Greeks ever dream of doing anything of the kind? are our women the least worth fighting about? If they run away with a foreigner, do we not, as a matter of fact, say “good riddance”, and go about our business?’ How this paradox presented itself to Stesichorus and to other literary thinkers of early Greece, and how Herodotus has chosen to handle their solution of it, is a thrice-told tale. All that I am concerned to suggest, at present, is that, at every point where we can test it, opinion in Greece was in flux as to the rightful position of woman in civilized society.

The rapid extension of the field of Greek knowledge of other peoples’ customs, which resulted from the voyages and settlements of the seventh century, no less than the severe strain which the economic evolution in [Pg 155] that century and the next put upon the very framework of society in Greek states, led inevitably, as we know, to very reasonable scepticism as to the naturalness of patriarchal institutions in themselves: and this not only among the Physicists. We have hints of it in the Lyric, and explicit discussion in the Drama. ‘Is a man nearer akin to his father or to his mother?’ that is the point on which for Aeschylus the fate of Orestes turns in the last resort. The Apollo of Aeschylus, Λητοίδης though he be, is on the side of the angels, but his proof belongs to a phase of observation which, while it conforms precisely to the patriarchal jurisprudence, was obsolete already for Hippocrates. The Andromache and the Medea of Euripides mark in due course the turn of the tide, even in Drama; and, with the feminist plays of Aristophanes, we are in full course for the Republic of Plato, the fine flower, on this side of the subject, of the conviction (which is really pre-Socratic) that social organization, like any other, is at bottom a matter of the adaptation of natural means to ends.

Of this controversy Herodotus is no mere spectator. It can hardly be a chance that every one of the strange marriage customs which he mentions happens to be typical of a widespread type of observance; and that the series of them taken together forms an analysis of such types which is almost complete between the extremes of promiscuous union with classificatory relationship on the one hand, and normal patriarchal monogamy on the other.

Herodotus is of course not writing a history of Human Marriage, or of Woman’s Rights; it is only as a current topic of controversy that such [Pg 156] matters come into his story at all; but, when they do, I think we can see that his contribution to them is not quite a casual one; that he is not simply emptying an ill-filled notebook on to the margins of his history; but that where he digresses he does so to fill a gap in current knowledge, with materials which, if not new, are at all events well authenticated; and that these materials have partly been elicited by his own interest in specific problems which were burning questions at the moment.

The question of social organization, and provision for orderly descent, was for Herodotus a matter of pure science. But for some of his contemporaries it was different. Archelaus, in particular, the last, and in some respects the most advanced, of the Physicists, has the reputation of having applied physicist methods to politics and morals: καὶ γὰρ περὶ νόμων πεφιλοσόφηκε καὶ καλῶν καὶ δικαίων.[106] Two points in the account given of him by Diogenes have usually been put on one side; that he came from Miletus and had sat at the feet of Anaxagoras, beyond whose physics, however, he failed to advance appreciably;[107] and that Socrates had borrowed from him much of what commonly passed as Socratic. But the two statements go together. An Ionian Physicist, who had passed on to ‘philosophize about customs, their goodness and justice’, was certainly a pendent portrait to that of the Socrates of the Clouds and of the Memorabilia, with his earlier interest (which his enemies never forgot) in τὰ μετέωρα, and his invincible habit of treating Man as an animal species about which it was permissible to argue by the analogy of other ‘rational animals’ like horses and dogs. [Pg 157] Indeed the predominant interest which the next generation took in the later phases of Socrates the Moralist, have obscured, perhaps unduly, the significance of these glimpses of his immaturer thought.

The same Archelaus is credited—or discredited—with another saying, characteristic of the Milesian way of looking at Mankind:—‘Justice and injustice,’ he said, ‘exist not in nature but in custom.’ Here again, the practice of Herodotus is instructive. Repeatedly he notes of distant peoples either that they are the ‘justest of Mankind’, or that they have this or that ‘custom’ which is praiseworthy or the reverse; and, even among the highest of civilized beings, ‘Custom is King.’

This is not perhaps the place to enter at length on a discussion of the Herodotean usage of νόμος, or its relation with its correlative φύσις. But it can hardly be passed by without the remark that the varying use of the word in Herodotus—and his uses do vary in detail—are all included in that earlier, and characteristically Ionian sense, in which the word is used to denote the formal expression of what actually happens, among the people, and in the circumstances, which are in question. This is of course a quite immediate, and very early sense of the word; it connects itself directly with the primary signification of a pasture within which a flock may roam unchecked and unharmed, but beyond which it strays at its peril or not at all. Νόμος has thus exactly the force of the Roman conception of a provincia, except that where provincia prescribed the limits and the character of appropriate acts, νόμος merely described them. In so far then as νὁμος [Pg 158] answered originally to our word law, it answered exclusively to that sense of it in which we speak of a law of nature, meaning thereby our more or less accurate formulation, in a descriptive way, of the actual course of events of the given type.

In this sense obviously there is no contrast or antagonism conceivable between νόμος and φύσις. Let the φύσις of an oak, for example—the growth-process of that kind of tree—be to put forth branches, leaves, and fruit of a specific sort: this is no less the νόμος of that oak; the way it normally behaves. So, too, with Man. The normal, natural behaviour of the Egyptian is to teach his son a trade, this is one of his νόμοι, as seen and described by an observer from outside; but this is also what he and his ancestors have done φύσει for generations, till an Egyptian who does otherwise is hardly conceivable. We have already seen in the case of Hippocrates the mode of procedure whereby what began as a νόμος was conceived as modifying the φύσις by incorporation in it.

What was the outcome of these observations on the family structure of savages, and of the speculations as to their ‘naturalness’ or the reverse? The answer is given, I think, when we look into the fourth century, and find Socrates, the last of the pre-Socratics, propounding in the Republic, and justifying by chapter and verse in the Laws, the unnaturalness, because the uselessness or inexpediency, of patriarchal society as the Greeks knew it. From Athenian politics patriarchal considerations had been eliminated in theory a century before, by that amazing revolutionary, Cleisthenes; but socially the [Pg 159] father still owned and ruled his children; and children paid divided allegiance to their father and to the state. As presented in the Republic the Socratic argument has little about it that is anthropological; the appeal is to horses and dogs, not to Sarmatians; but the actual institutions of the Ideal State, the annual mating-festivals, the κομψοὶ κλῆροι by which status is allotted to each infant after inspection by the governors, the whole classificatory system of relationship, are one and all to be found among the curious νόμοι which we know to have been recorded by the anthropologists of the century before; and recorded, too, with the definite intention of discovering what their causes were, and what were the reasons assigned for those customs by the people who practised and understood them.

It is against such speculations as these, of course, and in particular against the Socratic attempt to make Amazons and Nasamonians rise up in judgement against this generation, that Aristotle was moved to restate in the first section of the Politics the orthodox sociology of patriarchal Greece. That in the middle of the fourth it should have been possible for a serious person to maintain the paradox φύσει ἀρχικὸς πατὴρ υἱῶν without instant refutation by the members of his classroom, is a measure of the extent to which the followers of Socrates (though, as we have seen, not Socrates himself) had broken with the fifth-century naturalists, and perhaps even ceased to read them. But it is a measure also of the extent to which an able dialectician could make play with words like φύσις and νόμος, till it almost appeared as if any one who had any νόμοι to speak of represented a παρέκβασις from the φύσει ἄνθρωπος. No amount of a priori argument [Pg 160] as to the superior strength, or intelligence, or sheer ‘superiority’ of the human male, could obliterate the fact that here women ruled, there they fought, elsewhere they did the work instead of the man, or, bar the reflection, that it was the business of an editor of συνηγμέναι πολιτεῖαι to collect these human institutions too, before generalizing; and, in general, to distinguish τὸ παρὰ φύσιν from τὸ παράδοξον.

Alongside of the problem of family organization, lay the other problem of the means of subsistence. Some men live wholly on the fruit of a tree; others eat corn, or milk, or monkeys, or their elderly relatives. And here again the evidence falls into two classes. There are customs in which the eating appears to us as a ritual act designed by those who observed or initiated it to secure some ultimately useful end: they frequently belong to the kind of acts which we class together as Sympathetic Magic. There are also customs in respect of food, which to us appear to have only an economic interest; or if they have wider interest at all, acquire it from another consideration. Current anthropology—French anthropology in particular—and our own economic surroundings combine to bring home to us keenly the thought that the way in which a people gets its daily bread, not to mention the previous question how it is to get anything to eat at all (except, perhaps, its own unemployables), has a direct and profound influence on its social structure. A late stage of Greek thought on this subject is represented by the section in the first book of the Politics which classifies the principal βίοι which are open to mankind, and hints (though the subject is not pursued) that the Good Life will be pursued with a very different [Pg 161] equipment of customs and institutions according as it is pursued by the pastoral nomad ‘farming his migratory field’, or by the miner, or by the merchant seaman. A little earlier in thought as well as in time comes the sketch in the Republic, a glimpse of the earlier Socrates who had dabbled in geography and improved the ‘inventions’ of Archelaus. The later Socrates, wise in his own failures, takes his pupils hurriedly past this avenue of inquiry into the structure of society; the disciples, for the credit of the Master’s originality, omit all allusion to Archelaus and his work. But the Milesian who began with Physics, and went on to show what nowadays we should call ‘the applicability of biological laws to Man’, cannot have been without weight in the political thought of his time; and it is again to Herodotus that we must turn for indications of the extent to which this inquiry was already being followed in Greece in the generation of Archelaus, and before it.

Already in Homer imagination had been caught by the total distinctness of the mode of life which was followed by the nomads of the North; and a vague connexion had been felt between the purely pastoral existence and a peculiarly orderly habit of life and behaviour. A fragment of Choerilus, whom those who had access to his work felt to stand in some peculiarly close relation to Herodotus, connects these two qualities [Pg 162] explicitly;[108] and the same thought recurs twice over in that storehouse of anthropological learning, the Prometheus Solutus of Aeschylus.[109] In the latter passage it would be forcing the literal sense of the words unduly, to insist that the Gabii are to be pictured as living on wild corn, especially as Greek theory was at all other points unanimous that corn, like the olive and the vine, came to man by special providence as something ἡμερον φύσει. The Aeschylean picture clearly is that of the virgin soil of the trans-Euxine grassland, where the spring vegetation will endure comparison with any merely Aegean cornland.

There is enough in this single example to show that the men of the early fifth century were already aware of the inter-dependence of environment, economy, and institutions. For the generation of Socrates, we have the treatise of Hippocrates already mentioned, ‘On Air, Water, and Places’; of which the whole burden is, as we have seen, that not only men’s social organization, but their very physique, is the result of ‘acquired variations’ initiated by the climate and economic régime. [Pg 163]

I hinted, a little earlier, that there is another reason why Herodotus should pay close attention to the peculiar food of strange peoples. That different kinds of food-quest should lead to different manners and institutions was probably, even in the fifth century, a less familiar conception than that the personal qualities of the individual depended directly on the food which he ate. This is of course a matter of elementary knowledge to most savages; it is an explicit principle of the medical doctrine of Hippocrates; it has had the profoundest influence on the vocabulary and ritual of great religions, and it has by no means disappeared from the current thought of mankind; it is still believed, by otherwise intelligent people, that the morals of nations may be mended, by defining the quality of their food and the quantity of their drink. With this conception in mind, we shall cease to be surprised that Herodotus devotes so much time and care to describe the preparation of plum-cake, or kirschwasser, or beer. Man might not live by bread alone; but if you once were certain that a man did live on bread, and not on monkeys, or on lice, you knew already a good deal about the habits and the value of that man.

It was probably the circumstance that this magical interpretation was so commonly attached to food-supply that prevented Greek observers, such as Herodotus and Hippocrates, from pressing home their analysis of the food-quest as an index of the general economic régime. And the same ambiguity envelops also, unfortunately, the next recorded attempt at such analysis. It can hardly be accident that, in the sketch of the ἀναγκαιοτάτη πόλις in the Republic,[110] [Pg 164] the diet of the citizens is wholly vegetarian, and almost wholly cereal. And when Glaucon interrupts, and asks what has happened to the meat, Socrates wilfully misunderstands his question, and prescribes once more only salt, cheese, and vegetable relishes—olives, and bulbous roots, and wild herbs, with figs, lentils, and beans, myrtle-berries and forest nuts to follow. Glaucon’s comment on this is precise and contemptuous: ‘If you had been planning a city of pigs, Socrates, what other fodder than this would you have given them?’ And on being pressed for an alternative, he stipulates expressly for the customary food of civilized men, ‘and meat dishes such as people have nowadays.’ It is entirely in keeping with all this,[111] that ὄψα recur further on, along with tables, chairs, and unguents, as signs of a corrupted state; that hunters and cooks appear among the ministers of luxury; and swineherds last of all, for the pig alone among cattle gives neither milk or cheese, but is useful only for meat diet.

Here three distinct lines of argument are inextricably confused. In the first place, we have seen already that it was the regular Greek belief that man began existence as a forest animal, living on the hazel-nuts and acorns characteristic of the Balkan and Anatolian regions; and only acquired the knowledge of corn, wine, and oil by special providence, and at a later time: in this sense, therefore, Socrates is proposing a return to primitive diet. In the second place, the diet which he suggests is the only one possible for people who should try to live a life independent and at the same time inoffensive. But, thirdly, this [Pg 165] diet is precisely that which a fourth-century doctor would have been expected to prescribe for a patient τρυφῶντὶ καὶ φλεγμαίνοντι. But there is enough of common motive in all three considerations, to make it clear that even one of the least anthropological among his pupils could represent Socrates as starting from a conception of man and his place in the world which is precisely that of a fifth-century physicist.[112]

I conclude with a well-known Herodotean episode, in which much true history has been remodelled clearly in the light of a definite classification of βίοι, and a definite theory of their relative values and economic interactions. In the story of the rise of Peisistratus, as told by Herodotus,[113] the motif of the action throughout the first phase of his career is that of three contrasted βίοι: the life of the shore, of the sea, and of the men from over the hills. In form the division is geographical, but the phrase which is used, τῷ λόγῳ τῶν ὑπερακρίων προστάς, suggests that it is not a district but a region which is in question; and that what differentiated this region from the others was this, that it lay above corn level. Any one who will go in spring-time and look round from the Acropolis upon Attica, will recognize that abrupt change from [Pg 166] the emerald green to the purple and brown, which tells where πεδίον and cornland end, and the goats of the ὑπεράκρια begin. And I have seen along the base of Taygetus, along the same economic frontier, where a track like a coastguard’s path has been worn by the police patrols, in their attempt, not always successful, to prevent στάσις from bursting into πόλεμος. We should note in passing that the question whether the pastoral highlanders of Attica exhausted the whole content of the λόγος τῶν ὐπερακρίων—whether, that is, the party of Peisistratus included the mining interests of the district of Laureion, as suggested by Mr. Ure,[114] is totally distinct from the question now before us, which is simply what the word conveyed to the mind of Herodotus the Halicarnassian. And if this distinction be granted, the suggestion, which is after all the conventional one, that the ground of division between the Attic factions was regarded by Herodotus as an economic one, receives much support from the perennial state of Balkan lands, with their oases of corn-growers amid a highland wilderness of Vlachs.

In these circumstances, the fact that Peisistratus, whatever his real character may have been, is described as the leader of the most backward section of the population, is entirely in agreement with the rest of the picture. For throughout, in Herodotus’ presentation of him, Peisistratus is the man of paradoxes. His father, before his birth, had accepted the omen of the cauldron spontaneously boiling; the son was to kindle a great fire where there was no light—but only plenty of fuel. So again, Peisistratus, unlike the Sibyl, at each rejection offers Athens more. The rejected party-leader becomes Athena’s man, the man of [Pg 167] an united Attica; and Athena’s man, whom Athena’s people expelled, rests not till he can offer, of his own, every corner stone of an Athenian Empire in its greatest days. And so here, again, there is stasis between rich and poor, between primitive and advanced, between sedentary and nomad—so far as nomadism was practicable in Attica; and it is the λεπτὰ τῶν προβάτων, as with Perdiccas and with David, which produce, in due time, the great man. It is a miniature, of course, this sketch of the sixth-century Attica, as befits its modest part in the scheme of the Herodotean drama; but the handling of it is none the less significant, on that account, of the way in which the idea of conflicting νὁμοι is allowed to model and interpret the materials.

I have tried, in brief space, to indicate some ways in which our knowledge of the Greek world, fragmentary as it is, enables us to recover some at least of the broad lines of method by which the early history of Man, and the causes of his variations and of his social states, were being investigated in the fifth century and before: and to interpret some of the results which were reached, in the light of the reasoning which led to them, and the principles by which they were interpreted in antiquity. We have seen that in some points Greek anthropology had gone surprisingly far, in speculation, and in acute observation too; and we have seen it baffled, in other directions, by puzzles and mistakes which seem trivial to us. And we have seen, in the particular instance of one who was at the same time a great historian and an alert observer of anthropological fact, something of the way in [Pg 168] which pre-Socratic stages of theory worked out when they were applied to research in the hands of an ordinary man. Above all, I have ventured to suggest—what I hope it may be for others to carry forward—an inquiry into the anthropological basis of the political doctrine of Socrates; and so to link him, on this side of his thought, with that great body of naturalist work, which I would gladly believe that he came not to destroy but to fulfil.

[Pg 169]


The practice which is the subject of this lecture was a comparatively late growth in the religious history of ancient Italy. We commonly and vaguely translate lustratio by ‘purification’, lustrare by ‘purify’; but in Latin literature there is another sense of the word, which shows well how one particular kind of purification had become associated with it—I mean the sense of a slow ordered movement in procession. This stately processional movement, so characteristic of the old Roman character, so characteristic still of the grandeur and discipline of the Roman Church in Italy, impressed itself for ever on the Latin language in the word lustrare. Let me quote a single beautiful example of it. When Aeneas first sees and addresses Dido he says:

In freta dum fluvii current, dum montibus umbrae Lustrabunt convexa, polus dum sidera pascet, Semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt, Quae me cumque vocant terrae.[115] [Pg 170]

‘So long as the cloud-shadows move slowly over the hollows on the hills.’ Long ago, when fishing in Wales, I watched this procession of the shadows, and ever since then it has been associated in my mind with the many ancient Italian processions which I have had to study. Such is the magical power of a great poet of nature.

But before we go on to examine the nature and meaning of these processions it is necessary to go much further back, in order to get some idea of the primitive Italian ideas of ‘purification’ out of which they were developed. We know them only in the farm and the city of historical times; they belong at the earliest to the comparatively settled and civilized life of the Italian agricultural community, and reached their highest development in the highly organized City-State. But there is much to be said—much more than I have time to say now—about the ideas to which they owe their origin.

There are certain words in Latin bearing the sense of purification, which are older, if I am not mistaken, than lustrare and lustratio, and which belong, I should be inclined to believe, to a ‘pre-animistic’ period: to a period, that is, when the thing to be got rid of by what we call purification was not so much evil influences in the form of spirits as some mysterious miasmatic contamination. These words are februum, februare, februatio, from which the name of our second month, the month of purification, is derived. Februum is a material object with magical purifying power, which the late Romans might call piamen, or purgamen (Ovid, Fast. ii. 19 foll.), using a word belonging to the priestly ritual of the fully developed State. A number of such objects were in use at Rome on particular occasions, all called generically by this name februum—water, fire, sulphur, laurel, wool, [Pg 171] pine-twigs, cakes made of certain ‘holy’ ingredients, and at the Lupercalia, strips of the skin of a victim. These belong to the region of magic, and are intimately connected with charms and amulets, which were and still are so popular and universal in Italy. They belong to the same category, psychologically considered, as the bulla of children, the apex of the flamines, a pointed twig fixed on the head or head-dress, and the galerus, the cap of the Flamen Dialis, made of the skin of a white victim which had been sacrificed to Jupiter. These are all survivals from an older stratum of religious thought than the processional rites which we are going to study: they date from a period when magical processes were the rule and religious processes the exception.

I am not going to let myself be drawn here into the vexed question of the relation of religion to magic—two words which, simply by virtue of their being words with constantly shifting connotation—are very apt to mislead us. But putting aside this controversy, it is helpful, I think, to suggest that februum and februare belong to an age when material contamination, e. g. of a corpse or of blood—in other words, of things ‘taboo’—could be got rid of by magical means, lustrare and lustratio to an age when the thing to be driven and kept away is spiritual mischief—the influence of spirits that may be hostile—and when the means used are sacrifices and prayer, with processional movement. To draw the line clearly, however, between a magical period and a religious period is in Roman history quite impossible, as indeed it is and must be everywhere. Magical and quasi-magical processes are taken up into the processes of a period which may be called religious, [Pg 172] and survive in an amphibious condition for which it is difficult to find a name. The Flamen Dialis, for example, was priest of Jupiter, and as such in all his duties was an official of a highly organized religious system, yet he was afflicted with an extraordinary number of taboos—now familiar to all readers of The Golden Bough—which survived from a period long anterior to that of religion in the true sense of the word. The purification of new-born children on the dies lustricus is an essential part of the religion of the family, and the word lustricus is itself, in my view, a mark of a period of religion; but the original meaning of the ceremony is probably to be found in pre-animistic ideas. So too with the purification of the family after a funeral, where the original horror of a corpse common to all primitive peoples is still just discernible in the religious ritual of historical times.[116] And, as we shall presently see, the belief that he who has shed blood, even of an enemy, needs purification, is still to be found lurking in the form of one of those acts of lustratio with which we are about to occupy ourselves.

But on the whole it may be said of the Romans, as Dr. Farnell has said of our Teutonic ancestors (Evolution of Religion, p. 108), that cathartic ritual did not weigh heavily on their consciences. Assuredly it may be so said of the Romans of historical times, subjected to the quieting influences of priestly law and ritual, which found infallible remedies for the conscience of the individual, for his fear of evil powers material or spiritual—expedients to emancipate him from the [Pg 173] bondage of taboo[117]—in the religious action of the State as a whole. It may perhaps be guessed that even in an age long before the State arose the conscience of the Latin was never ‘intensified’ as regards purification from bloodshed or other mischance or misdeed. The impurity or holiness of blood, as conceived by all primitive peoples, has left no obvious trace in Roman ideas, legends, or literature; it is to be found, but it does not attract our attention as it does in Greece. I believe that the explanation of this lies in the genius of the Roman for law, and in his early and very distinct conception of the State and of the authority of its officials. It may, indeed, be also due to the invasion of Latium by a people of advanced culture, who had but little to say to the grosser material ideas of an aboriginal population; but this is still merely speculation, into which I cannot enter now. Whatever the cause, the religion of the Romans as we know it shows no horror, no fear, so long as the worship of the gods is performed exactly and correctly according to the rules of the State priesthoods: there is no sense of sin or of pollution, of taboo irremediably broken, haunting the mind of the individual: all is cheerfully serious, regular, ordered, ritualistic; and nowhere can we see this better than in the public and private lustral processions of the Roman people.

A word, however, in the first place about the original meaning of the word lustratio. Lustrare is a strong form of luere: and luere is explained by Varro as equivalent to solvere (De Ling. Lat. vi. 11): ‘Lustrum nominatum tempus quinquennale a luendo, id est solvendo; [Pg 174] quod quinto quoque anno vectigalia et ultro tributa per censores persolvebantur.’ He is followed by Servius, who explains such expressions as ‘paena commissa luere’, ‘peccata luere’, ‘supplicium luere’,[118] on the same principle. We might, therefore, be tempted to think that the root-meaning of lustrare is to perform a duty or an obligation, and so to rid oneself of it—to go through a religious rite as due to a deity. But this would be to misconceive the original meaning of the word as completely as Varro did when he explained luere by reference to the payment of taxes. We have not yet arrived at a period in Roman thought when we can speak of a sense of religious duty: it is not a money obligation or a ritualistic one that has to be got ‘rid of’, in the earliest ages of the Latin farm or City-State, but those ubiquitous spirits, presumably hostile until they are reclaimed, which haunt the life of man in the animistic stage. Varro and his successors do, however, give us the right clue; they see that the idea lurking in the word is that of purging yourself or getting rid of something, but they understand that something in the light, not of primitive man’s intelligence, but of the relation of man to man in a civilized state.

If, then, lustrare originally embodies this sense of ridding oneself of something, we can now go on to examine the oldest forms of lustratio. I will not here go into the further question whether lues, a pest, and the shadowy deity Lua Mater, who was the consort or companion in some antique sense of Saturnus, are words belonging to the same group and explicable on the same principle. [Pg 175]

Now, in order to understand clearly how this necessity of getting rid of hostile spirits came to suggest those solemn processional rites which we associate with the word lustratio, we must fully appreciate the fact that the earliest settlers in Italy who had any knowledge of agriculture found it a country of forest-clad hills; the river valleys were marshy and unhealthy, and the earliest settlements were in clearings made in the woodland. This fact was dimly appreciated by the Romans themselves, and is proved by the archaeological evidence available to-day. The first thing, then, to be done was to make a clearing; and this was a most perilous task, for when you cut down trees and dug up the soil, how were you to tell what unknown spirits you might be disturbing and aggravating? They might be in the trees and the plants, they might be in the animals whose homes were in the trees and the ground, the rocks and the springs. In the later Roman ritual we can still see traces of this old feeling of peril. Cato has preserved for us the formula used by the farmer in historical times when making a new clearing; the prayer accompanying his sacrifice began with ‘Si deus, si dea’—for how was he to know the name or sex of the spirit of the wood he was invading? When digging up the soil he had to offer an expiatory sacrifice; and the ancient gild of the Fratres Arvales had to offer special piacula for the falling of a bough in their grove, or for any injury to a tree in it.[119]

[Pg 176] And when your clearing was complete, and you had settled down with your own household spirits, e. g. of the hearth-fire and the store-cupboard (Vesta and Penates), or had induced some of the native spirits to be friendly and serviceable to you—those especially of the land and the springs,—there was yet another difficulty of the greatest importance, viz. to keep those wild ones still dwelling in the woodland around you from encroaching on your clearing or annoying you in your dwelling. That they really could be thus annoying is proved by a curious bit of folklore of which Varro knew, and which has luckily been preserved by St. Augustine, a student of Varro’s works, as an example of Pagan absurdity (Civ. Dei, vi. 9). After the birth of a child, three spirits were invoked—Intercidona, Pilumnus, and Deverra—to prevent Silvanus (the later representative of the woodland spirits generally) from coming into the house and making mischief by night. These three spirits, as their names show, represented the life of settled agriculture: the cutting and pruning of trees (Intercidona), the pounding of corn for the daily meal (Pilumnus), and the raking and sweeping up of the grain (Deverra); and Varro says that they were represented by three men, who imitated the action of axe, pestle, and broom. The real significance of this delightful bit of mummery has never, I think, been correctly understood, simply because the vital difference to the earliest settler between the benevolent spirits of the reclaimed clearing and the hostile spirits of the wild woodland has never been quite fully appreciated.

But this device was one to which you need only have recourse on a particular occasion; the permanent difficulty was to mark off your cultivated land from the forest and its dangerous spiritual population, [Pg 177] in some way by which the latter might be prevented from making itself unpleasant. You must draw a definite line between good spirits and bad, between white spirits and black. Here it is that we find the origin of a practice which lasted all through Roman history, passed on into the ritual of the Church, and still survives, as at Oxford on Ascension Day, in the beating of parish bounds. The boundary of the cultivated land was marked out in some material way, perhaps by stones placed at intervals, like the cippi of the old Roman pomerium, from the woodland lying around it; and this boundary-line was made sacred by the passage round it (lustratio) at some fixed time of the year—in May as a rule, when the crops were ripening and especially liable to be attacked by hostile influences—of a procession occupied with sacrifice and prayer. I must dwell for a moment on this procession as it is described by old Cato; but at this point I may just interpolate the remark that the object of its mysterious influence was the arable land only and the crops.[120] The sheep and cattle were otherwise protected, when, after their seclusion within the boundary during the winter, they [Pg 178] were driven out in April to pasture beyond it, where they would be in far greater peril from enemies spiritual and other. If you wish to see how this was done, read Ovid’s account of the Parilia in the fourth book of his Fasti, and Dr. Frazer’s illuminating commentary on it (St. George and the Parilia) in the Revue des Études Ethnographiques et Sociologiques for 1908, p. 1 foll.

Cato in his treatise on agriculture has left us, in the form of instructions to a real or imaginary bailiff, the formula of the lustratio as it was used in the second century b.c. It is obviously applicable in detail rather to the estate of that period than to a farm of primitive Latium: there are, for example, words which suggest that it was not necessary in those days to go in procession round the whole of the boundary; as was the case afterwards with the lustratio of the ager Romanus, the form survived accommodated to the great increase of the land concerned. But the two main features of the whole rite are no doubt identical with those of the earliest form of it—i. e. the procession of the victims, ox, sheep, and pig, the farmer’s most valuable property, with the sacrificer and his helps, in this case the bailiff and his assistants: and secondly the prayer to Mars pater, after libations to Janus and Jupiter, asking for his kindly protection of the whole familia of the farm, together with the crops of every kind, and the cattle within the boundary-line. Though it is not explicitly told us, we can hardly doubt that originally the procession followed the boundary-line, and thus served to keep it clear in the memory as well as to preserve everything within it from hostile spirits outside of it. In Cato’s formula it is disease, calamity, [Pg 179] dearth, and infertility, that the farmer seeks to ward off—that is the language of the second century b.c.: and it is Mars pater who is invoked, i. e. a great god who has long ago emerged from the crowd of impersonal spirits; but we need not doubt that the primitive farmer used language of a different kind, and addressed the spirits of disease and dearth themselves, of whom one survived into historic times—Robigus, the spirit of mildew. In the ritual of the Arval Brethren, who perhaps retained some details more antique than those of Cato’s instructions, it is a nameless deity, the Dea Dia, who is the chief object of petition (Acta Fratr. Arv., p. 48).

At this point it may be well to ask what was the original idea of the virtue conveyed by going round a piece of land with victims to be sacrificed at the end of the circuit. Such circuitous processions, with or without victims, are to be found in all countries: perhaps the instance most familiar to all of us is that round the walls of Jericho, repeated seven times—the mystic number—in order to destroy their defensive power. But Roman folklore itself, preserved in great abundance by Pliny, supplies an example which goes some way, I think, to show the original nature of the process. Pliny tells us that if a woman in a certain condition, with bare feet and streaming hair, walked round a field, it was completely protected against insects.[121] The act of passing round a crop served as a charm to keep off noxious things—live insects in historical times, noxious spirits, if I am right, in the dawn of agriculture. The charm lay in the condition of the woman, as Dr. Frazer has abundantly shown in The Golden Bough [Pg 180] (iii, ed. 2, p. 232 foll.), where he has quoted this passage of Pliny and others from the Roman writers on agriculture. Some power of a similar kind there must have been also in the victims about to be slain; they were chosen according to rule, and under favourable auspices (if we may argue back from the ritual of the city to that of the farm): they were therefore holy, and their blood was about to be shed at one point in the line of circuit. We have here, indeed, passed beyond the region of magic, but we are still in that early stage of religion when a magical idea is at the bottom of the ceremony, though fast losing itself in ideas more advanced and rational.

This religious process, the fencing out of hostile spirits by a boundary-line, and the discovery of the proper formulae for preserving it and all within it, may and indeed must have been the work of ages. But once discovered, the principle of it could be applied to any land or other property of man, and also to man himself. Let us now take some examples of such extensions of the simple practice of the farm.

The farms and homesteads of the early Latins were grouped together in associations called pagi; and these were subjected to the same process of lustratio as the farms themselves. So at least we can hardly doubt, though we have no explicit account of the processional character of the lustratio pagi. When Ovid, under date of the Paganalia (Jan. 24-6), describes the lustratio, he writes:

Pagus agat festum: pagum lustrate, coloni, Et date paganis annua liba focis:

[Pg 181] but does not make it clear that he uses lustrare in the sense of a procession with the suovetaurilia. Nor can we be sure that the beautiful passage in the first Georgic (338 foll.), beginning, ‘In primis venerare deos,’ refers to a lustratio pagi, though Wissowa seems to imply it,[122] and the lines

Terque novas circum felix eat hostia fruges, Omnis quam chorus et socii comitentur ovantes Et Cererem clamore vocent in tecta ...

give a charming picture of a lustratio of this kind, without enabling us to decide whether he has the farm or the pagus in his mind. Let us go on to the beginnings of the city, where we shall find the same principle and process applied in most striking fashion.

Just as it was necessary to keep hostile spirits out of the homestead and its land, so it was necessary to keep them out of the city and its land. The walls of the Italian city were sacred, and so was a certain space outside them, called the pomerium. This is well illustrated in the rite used in the foundation of a city even in historical times, as described by Varro, Servius, and Plutarch:[123] it was believed to be of Etruscan origin, like so many other Roman rites, but it is now generally considered to be old Italian in a general sense. A white ox and a white cow were harnessed to a plough, of which the share must be made of bronze, and (on an auspicious day) drew a rectangular furrow where the walls of the city were to be: the earth was turned inwards to indicate the line of the wall, and the furrow represented the future pomerium. When the plough came to the [Pg 182] place where there was to be a gate, it was lifted over it and the ploughing resumed beyond it. This meant that though the walls were sacred, the gates were profane; for, as Plutarch says, had the gates been holy, scruple would have been felt about the passage in and out of them of unholy things. The result of this religious process was to keep outside the sacred boundary of the wall all evil and strange spirits (or, as we may now say, seeing that we are entering an era of higher civilization, strange gods); and inside it there dwelt only those who belonged to the place and its inhabitants (indigetes), and whose alliance and protection had become assured. Inside it, too, and only within its limits, could the auspicia of the city be taken.

We might naturally expect that this sacred wall and boundary would have its holiness and efficacy secured by an annual lustratio of the same kind as that of the farm and pagus; and so it was. We know that there was at Rome a lustral rite called Amburbium, which probably took place at the beginning of the month of purification (February); but it is for us unluckily little more than a name. Later on in the same month we find the extraordinary rite of the Lupercalia (15th), in which the pomerium is so far concerned as that the Luperci, or young men who served as priests on the occasion, ran round the ancient boundary of the Palatine settlement, girt with the skins of the victims, striking at all women who came near them with strips cut from these same skins, in order to produce fertility. But was this really a lustratio urbis? In my Roman Festivals I treated it as such (p. 319), on the ground that Varro uses the word lustrare in alluding to it. I am now, however, [Pg 183] disposed to think that Varro was here using the word in a general and not a technical sense, and that the object of it was not, as in the rites we have been discussing, to keep evil spirits away from the city as a whole. It seems to be a survival of some very primitive magico-religious ideas, into which I will not enter now. Certain it is that the leading feature of the true lustratio is absent from it; instead of a slow and stately procession of worshippers and victims, we have the wild running of almost naked youths, apparently personating or embodying a deity.

Fortunately we can illustrate the real lustratio of a city from a different source, and in this case most luckily a documentary one, but from an Umbrian city instead of a Latin one. The town of Gubbio, the modern form of Iguvium, still preserves the priestly instructions, drawn up from older sources probably at the beginning of the last century b. c., for the lustratio of its citadel, the arx (ocris Fisia), by a guild of priests called the Fratres Attiedii.[124] Here the ceremony has been developed under priestly influence into a series of ritualistic acts of the highest exactness and complexity; but the main features of the lustratio stand out quite clearly. The procession goes solemnly round the arx, with the victims, which are the same as those of the Latin lustratio; at each gate it stops, and offers sacrifice and prayer on behalf of the citadel, the city, and the whole people of Iguvium. The gates, three in number, are the scene of the actual sacrifice and prayer, because they are the weak points in the wall, as we have seen, and they need to be spiritually strengthened by [Pg 184] annual religious operations, though not such as would make them permanently sacred like the wall itself. Doubtless the Fratres Attiedii would have been unable to explain this as I am explaining it; the sense of a hostile spiritual world outside the sacred boundary had vanished from the Italian mind when these elaborate liturgical formulae were drawn up. The prayers are cast in language that hardly differs from those of a Church of to-day which asks for a blessing on a community. The deities of the city are asked to preserve the name, the magistrates, rites, men, cattle, land, and crops—a list in which the name is the only item which carries us clearly back to pre-Christian times. The ideas and the deities have been developed into a religious system of considerable complexity, but the actual proceedings, the procession and the prayers at the gates, still remind us of the rock whence all this ritual was hewn.

I said that human beings might be subjected to the lustral process en masse, as well as land and city. Before we return from Iguvium to Rome, I may mention that the Iguvian documents also contain instructions for the lustratio of the people.[125] So far as we can gather from the Umbrian text, the people was brought together in a particular spot in its military divisions, and round them a procession went three times; at the end of each circuit there was sacrifice and prayer (the former not apparently with the usual suovetaurilia), and Mars and two female consorts or representatives of his power were entreated to confound and frighten certain enemies of the city, in language which reminds me of the prayer in time of war, [Pg 185] now happily abandoned, which I can remember as a child being read in the days of the Crimean war—‘abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices’. Then followed of course a prayer for blessing on the Iguvini. This may conveniently bring us back to Rome; for in the account of the census and lustrum in the Campus Martius given by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (iv. 22), we find the suovetaurilia driven three times round the assembled host with sacrifice to Mars. This was no doubt really the early form of the census, which had a military meaning and origin.

The explanation of this lustration of the host, the male population in arms, of a community, is not quite the same as that of the rite as applied to a city; yet it takes us back to the same animistic period and the same class of ideas. These armies were likely to have to march against enemies living far beyond the pale of the ager Romanus, and therefore among spirits with whom the Romans or Iguvians, as the case might be, had no peaceful relations, and of whose ways and freaks they were in fact entirely ignorant. They must, therefore, be protected against such evil influences by some special device and ritual. Of this kind of practice Dr. Frazer has collected some examples in Golden Bough, i. 304 foll., both from savage tribes and from Greek usage. As we are dealing here with Rome only, we may content ourselves with a parallel from the pen of a Roman historian, which, as it happens, Dr. Frazer has not mentioned. Livy tells us that the method in Macedonia was to march the whole host in spring before a campaign between the severed limbs of a dog (xl. 6 init.). This only differs from the [Pg 186] Italian plan in method, not in principle: the object in each case is to subject the whole army without exception to the salutary influence of the victim: but in Macedonia it is made to pass between the two parts of a slain victim, while in Italy the live victims are made to pass round the army, and afterwards sacrificed. That each Roman army was thus lustrated is almost certain (Dict. Ant., vol. ii. 102): in fact the word lustratio came to mean a review of troops for this reason, without religious signification: so at least we are used to take such expressions as Cicero uses of his army in Cilicia, ‘exercitum lustravi’ (Att. v. 20. 2). Even the fleets were subjected to the same process: and in Livy xxix. 27 we have a prayer addressed by Scipio to the deities of the sea before sailing for Africa, which may remind us of those used during the lustration of the people at Iguvium.

Further, at this same time, in spring, before the season of arms, all the appurtenances of the army were ‘purified’—the horses, the arms, and the trumpets. So at least we may gather from the fact that there was a festival in the oldest religious calendar at the end of February called Equirria, and another of the same name on March 14 following; though the real meaning of the word was lost in later times, this explanation is strongly suggested by the dates, and also by the place, i. e. the Campus Martius. (If this was flooded it took place on the Caelian hill.) The details of the festival, which must have included horse racing, are unfortunately lost. The Equirria of March 14 seems to correspond to a curious rite, of which the date is October 15, i.e. after the season of arms; on that day there was a two-horse [Pg 187] chariot-race in the Campus Martius, and the near horse of the winning chariot was sacrificed to Mars, with peculiar ritual following the slaughter. It is tempting to refer this rite to a lustratio of the horses after their return from a campaign: but here again the details of a true lustratio are not forthcoming. It may have originally been, as Wissowa suggests, a cathartic rite purifying the army from the taint of bloodshed (cf. G. B. i. 332 foll.); the blood of the sacrificed horse was allowed to drip upon the sacred hearth of the Regia, and it is probable that it was used in the making of certain sacred cakes (mola salsa) of great cathartic value. But it is remarkable that this rite was not included in the festivals of the ancient calendar: we know of it only from other sources. I am inclined to hazard a guess that it belonged to a type of ceremony which the earliest pontifical legislators were unwilling to recognize; their efforts, as it seems to me, must have been directed to make the worship of the people as pure and orderly as possible.[126]

The old calendar also supplies strong evidence that the arms and the trumpets of the host were lustrated, both before and after a campaign. On March 19, called Quinquatrus, because it was the fifth day after the Ides, the ancilia, or shields of the war-priests of Mars, were thus purified; and it is a good guess that they stood for the arms of the fighting men generally. For on October 19 we find the festival Armilustrium, which tells its own tale. On that day it seems clear that both arma and ancilia were lustrated, and that the Salii for this [Pg 188] purpose went round the armed host in a place called by the same name as the rite, in or near the Circus maximus (Varro, L.L. 6. 22: cf. 5. 153). Again, we have March 23 marked in the calendar as Tubilustrium; and though the old explanations confine these tubae to such as were used in sacris, I believe, with Wissowa, that included in these were the trumpets of the host.[127]

Lastly, we may believe that the army was purified from the taint of bloodshed after its return from a campaign, just as the Hebrew warriors and their captives were purified before re-entering the camp after a battle (Num. xxi. 19). I have just now suggested that the sacrifice of the October horse may have originally had this object. But in Roman pontifical law the idea of the taint of bloodshed is only faintly discernible, as is also the case in the Homeric poems (Farnell, Evolution, p. 133); and the only distinct trace of it that I can find in regard to the army is a statement of Festus that the soldiers who followed the general’s car in a triumph wore laurel wreaths ‘ut quasi purgati a caede humana intrarent urbem’ (Fest. 117). Laurel was a powerful purgative of such taint.

I have now given some brief account of the most remarkable examples of the characteristic type of lustration in Italy, and more especially at Rome; and it only remains for me to sum up in outline what I have been saying. We began with the ideas of purification which were common to the Italians and other primitive peoples, and which have left traces [Pg 189] here and there in the public and private ritual of the Romans, but without showing any great vital force, such as might enable them to develop into matters of religious or ethical importance in Roman life. We then saw how the nature of the Italian peninsula as it was in the dawn of civilization, and the universal belief in a world of spirits haunting mountain and woodland, compelled the early Latin farmer to draw a well-defined boundary line between the land he had reclaimed and the forest beyond it, within which he and his familia and his friendly spirits or deities might be at peace; and how he sought to render this boundary impermeable to the hostile spirits outside it by a yearly ceremony consisting of a procession around it of victims for sacrifice. Then we saw how this same practice was retained in the service of the State, and applied to the foundation of a city, to its land, to the circuit of its walls, to its people in the form of the men capable of carrying arms, to the horses, the arms, and the trumpets of this host.

In conclusion, I must ask the question whether this impressive ritual of lustratio ever came to have any religious or moral import for the Roman people. Undoubtedly the idea which lay at the root of it, the protection of the city and its inhabitants from hostile spirits or strange gods, disappeared from the Roman mind at an early period among the governing and better educated classes. In one point only, so far as I know, can we detect a survival of it,—namely, in the persistence of the pontifices in refusing to admit new gods within the sacred circle of the pomerium; they might be taken into the Society of Roman deities, but they must be settled in temples placed outside that boundary [Pg 190] line. But as early as the second Punic war this old rule began to be broken, and in 205 b.c. even the mystic stone of the Magna Mater of the Phrygians was brought within the pomerium and settled in the heart of the city on the Palatine. And from that time onwards, whatever may have been the notions about such things of the ignorant Latin population, the old ideas assuredly vanished utterly from the minds of those who were in charge of the State and its religion.

Was there any transmutation of those ideas into religious beliefs which might help State or individual in the changes and chances of this mortal life? The answer to this question is a most emphatic negative. What spiritual help they needed they sought and obtained in new and foreign rites; their own solemn processions were sights to see and nothing more. Lustratio never really, in pagan Italy, developed an ethical meaning, as catharsis did to some extent in Greece.[128] And the explanation of this is a simple one; at a very early stage the State overpowered the individual, and the State religion obliterated all the germs of an individual religious conscience. Even in the cult of Jupiter, where, if anywhere, we might look for an ethical significance, this was so; ‘we do not pray to Jupiter,’ says Cicero, ‘to make us good, but to give us material benefits.’[129]

But, meaningless as they were, the stately processions remained, and could be watched with pride by the patriotic Roman all through the period of the Empire. Then the Roman Church, with characteristic adroitness, adapted them to its own ritual, and gave them a new [Pg 191] meaning; and the Catholic priest still leads his flock round the fields with the prayers of the Litania major in Rogation week, not only beating the bounds as we still do in Oxford on Ascension Day, but begging a blessing on the crops and herds, and deprecating the anger of the Almighty.




The author of the first lecture, being out of England, could not correct the proof;
the following corrections should be made

Page 10 line  11, for produce in read produce on
" 14 line 6, for Cairoan read cavern
" 16 line 7, for palus read palm
" 27 line  24, for act read art
" 28 lines 11, 13,   for by its ... feature read by ... features
" 40 line 1, for in read on

Anthropology and the Classics.




[1] I may refer to my forthcoming publication, Scripta Minoa, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

[2] ‘Exemples de figures dégénérées et stylisées à l’époque du Renne.’ (Congrès International d’Anthropologie et d’Archéologie préhistoriques, 1906. Compte Rendu, t. i, pp. 394 seqq.)

[3] ‘L’Évolution de l’Art Pariétal des Cavernes de l’Âge du Renne.’ (C.r. du Congrès d’Anthropologie, etc., 1906, t. i, pp. 367 seqq.) Fig. 3 is taken from this (p. 370, Fig. 120).

[4] E. Cartailhac et l’Abbé H. Breuil, ‘Les peintures et gravures murales des Cavernes Pyrénéennes, II. Marsoulas.’ Anthropologie, xvi (1905), pp. 431 seqq. Fig. 4 is taken from p. 438, Fig. 8.

[5] Alcalde del Rio, Las Pinturas y Grabados de las Cavernas prehistóricas de la Provincia de Santander, 1906. Fig. 5 is taken from Anthropologie, xvii (1906), p. 145, Fig. 3.

[6] E. Piette, ‘Les Écritures de l’Âge glyptique.’ Anthropologie, xvi, p. 8, Fig. 9.

[7] Reliquiae Aquitanicae, B, Pl. XXVI, Fig. 10.

[8] Op. cit., p. 9.

[9] See R. Verneau, ‘L’Anthropologie des Grottes de Grimaldi.’ (Congrès International d’Anthropologie, etc., 1906, pp. 114 seqq.)

[10] Capitan, Breuil et Peyrony, ‘Figures anthropomorphes ou humaines de la Caverne des Combarelles.’ Congrès International d’Anthropologie, etc., 1906, pp. 408 seqq. (See p. 411, Fig. 149.)

[11] It is perhaps worth making the suggestion that these anthropomorphic figures with their animal snouts may in some cases be caricatures, at the hands of the ‘Men of Cro-Magnon’, of the low negroid element of the population—the ‘Men of Grimaldi’ of Dr. Verneau—with their markedly prognathous jaws and broad nostrils.

[12] Anthropologie, xv (1904), p. 638.

[13] Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1879-80, p. 312.

[14] Cf. Lucretius, v. 1030, 1031 ‘ipsa videtur Protrahere ad gestum pueros infantia linguae’.

[15] For smoke the same, but undulating. The sign is also used for fire.

[16] Garrick Mallery.

[17] E. Piette, ‘Les Galets Coloris de Mas d’Azil’ (Anthropologie, vii, pp. 386 seqq.), and ‘Les Écritures de l’Âge glyptique’ (op. cit., xvi, pp. 1 seqq.).

[18] Anthropologie, t. xiv (1905), pp. 655 seqq.

[19] Ed. 1672, p. 125. A.

[20] Scheffer, op. cit. p. 129—see Fig.

[21] P. J. von Strahlenberg, Description of the North and Eastern Parts of Europe and Asia (English Edition, 1738, Table VII).

[22] Cf., inter alia, A. E. Holmberg, Scandinaviens Hällristningar (1848) (who wrongly referred them to the Viking Period); Hildebrand, ‘Forsök till Förklaring ofver Hällristningar’ (Antiquarisk Tiskscrift för Sverige, ii); Montelius, ‘Sur les Sculptures de Rochers de la Suède,’ Compte rendu du Congrès d’Anthropologie et d’Archéologie préhistoriques, Stockholm, 1874, pp. 453 seqq.; N. G. Bruzelius, ‘Sur les rochers sculptés découverts en Scanie’ (ibid., pp. 475 seqq.).

[23] C.r. Congrès, etc., Stockholm, vol. i, p. 466, Fig. 22.

[24] Sir J. G. Simpson, British Archaic Sculpturing, Plates XXXIV, XXXV.

[25] Op. cit., Pl. XXVII.

[26] ‘On the Tumuli and Inscribed Stones at New Grange,’ Dowth and Knowth, pp. 32 seqq. (Trans. of R. I. Academy, 1892.)

[27] Capitan, Breuil et Charbonneau-Lassay, ‘Les Rochers gravés de Vendée’ (Bull., 1904, Acad. Inscript. Paris); and see E. Cartailhac, Anthropologie, xvi, pp. 192, 193, who inclines to refer the group of monuments with which the authors compare the Vendée rocks to the Neolithic Period.

[28] See Coffey (op. cit., p. 33, Fig. 24), who first pointed out the analogy with New Grange. Compare another sculptured slab of the same dolmen reproduced by D. A. Mauricet (Étude sur le Manné Lud, Vannes, 1864, Plates VII-IX). Similar ‘ship’ signs occur on the slabs of Mein Drein.

[29] Ricardo Severo, ‘As Necropoles Dolmenicas di Traz-os-Montes’ (Portugalia t. i. Oporto, 1903).

[30] Don Manuel de Góngora y Martinez, Antigüedades prehistóricas de Andalucía, pp. 64 seqq.

[31] Among recent contributions to our knowledge of this North African group may be mentioned G. B. M. Flamand, ‘Les Pierres Écrites (Hadjrat Mektoubat) du Nord d’Afrique et spécialement de la région d’In-Salah’ (Congrès International d’Anthropologie et d’Archéologie préhistoriques, Paris, 1900).

[32] S. Berthelot, Bull. de la Soc. Géogr. de Paris, 1875.

[33] They were first mentioned about 1650 by P. Gioffredo, Storia delle Alpi Marittime.

[34] The Maraviglie were first scientifically described by Mr. F. G. S. Moggridge (Trans. of Congress of Preh. Arch. 1868, pp. 309 seqq.). See, too, L. Clugnet, Matériaux, xii. 1877, pp. 379 seqq.; Issel, Bull. di Pal. It., 1901.

[35] C. Bicknell, The Prehistoric Rock Engravings of the Italian Maritime Alps, Bordighera, 1902 and 1903.

[36] I visited the spot in 1893 under the guidance of Padre Amerano of Finalmarina.

[37] See my remarks in the Athenaeum, December 18, 1897.

[38] C. Bicknell, op. cit., pp. 38, 39.

[39] Ilios, Whorl No. 1983.

[40] Professor Sayce, however, Ilios, p. 696, takes note of the possibility that such inscriptions as go-go-ti-re ‘may be intended for ornament’.

[41] Primitive Secret Societies, Macmillan, 1908.

[42] Theog. 681.

[43] Wallis, The Advance of our West African Empire, p. 239.

[44] Cf. Dieterich, Archiv für Relig. Wiss., xi, p. 173.

[45] Soph. Ant. 965.

[46] Eumelus, cp. Schol. Il. Z. 131.

[47] British Central Africa, p. 439.

[48] Cf. Du Chaillu, A Journey to Ashongo Land, p. 52.

[49] Alldridge, The Sherbro and its Hinterland, pp. 153 ff.

[50] Plat. (Rep. 565 d). Cf. De Visser, Nicht-menschengestaltige Götter, p. 46.

[51] Theog. 386 ff.

[52] Dionys. Hal. Antiq. i. 71.

[53] Plut. Num. 15.

[54] See Folklore, xv. 304.

[55] According to the White Book of Papua for 1907, containing the governor’s report to the Federal Government, the only murder of a white man committed during last year was due to a wish for this medicine. A native called Hariki had built a new house and wished to make it strong and paint it with a mixture of red-clay and coconut-oil. For this purpose, it seems, special medicine was necessary, and in order to have it as strong as possible, Hariki determined to get it from a white man. He obtained it by killing a market-gardener called Weaver, with whom he was on quite friendly terms. Indeed, when the medicine had been obtained, Hariki and his friends ‘proceeded, under the guidance of one of the party who was skilled in charms,’ to bring Weaver back to life. They began at the feet, and succeeded, so they said, in reviving all the lower part of the body; but there was a great wound in the chest which they could not pass. So at last they hid the corpse away, and arranged that it should seem to have been eaten by alligators.

[56] Phorbas, being the strongest of the Phlegyai, was chosen their king. He lived under an oak, wrestled with all comers, and hung their heads on the oak. Kerkyon (et. quercus?) of Eleusis did much the same. So did Oinomaos. His daughter’s suitors had to challenge him to a chariot race; he hung up the heads of those whom he defeated. Pelops, having defeated him, slew him and took the kingdom. Apparently the daughter’s hand carried the kingdom with it, as the daughter of Zeus in the Birds is Basileia, ‘Royalty.’ Kyknos made a pyramid of skulls. The others killed their rivals in various ways.

[57] Theog. 485 ff. Cf. 690, where Zeus fights with the thunder as his weapon; also 853 ff., where he crushes Typhoeus, who ‘would have become king over mortals and immortals, but that Zeus saw him and used the thunder’.

[58] Thus in our present version of the Theogony Zeus is not swallowed at all: only the stone is swallowed. And when it reappears Zeus sets it to be a sign at Pytho. Comment is hardly needed. No one supposes that we have the stories of the Theogony in their original state. There is ‘contamination’ and ‘conciliation’ visible throughout the book.

[59] Paus. x. 24, 5; cp. ix. 2, 7 and Frazer’s note.

ὄρσει νεογιλοῦ παιδὸς ἁυτὴν μαίης ἑν κόλπῳ κεκληγότος ἁμφὶ γάλακτι (Lithica, 360-99).

[61] Cp. Spencer and Gillen, Central Australia, p. 337. Several cases are given in Dieterich, Muttererde, pp. 20 f. The belief is very widespread.

[62] Preuss, in Archiv für Rel. Wiss., xi. 576.

[63] Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 371, 533 ff., 546.

[64] The Muses were the daughters of Mnemosyne: but who was their Father?

[65] Schol. Od. xix. 163.

[66] Fr. 64 (Didot).

[67] Fr. 25 (Didot).

[68] Plut. De Plac. Phil. v. 19 (Ritter and Preller, 7th ed., 16).

[69] Euseb. Praep. Ev. i. 8 (R. P. 16).

[70] Plut. Symp. Quaest. viii. 8. 4 (R. P. 16).

[71] Hippocrates, περἱ φύσιος παιδίου (ed. Kuhn, Leipzig, 1825, p. 391).

[72] Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. i. 9 (R. P. 171).

[73] Herodotus ii. 143.

[74] Herodotus ii. 10-11.

[75] Herodotus ii. 12.

[76] Herodotus v. 9.

[77] Aeschylus, Fr. 177.

[78] Fr. 183.

[79] Suppl. 286.

[80] Fr. 303.

[81] Fr. 290.

[82] P. V. 808.

[83] Fr. 178.

[84] Suppl. 287.

[85] P. V. 723.

[86] Compare μύρμηκες in P. V. 453 with Hes. Fr. 64, about the aborigines of Aegina, and with Lucretius v. 790 ff.

[87] Persae, 181 ff.

[88] Suppl. 234 ff.

[89] Suppl. 287-8.

[90] Suppl. 241-3.

[91] Suppl. 244-5.

[92] Suppl. 279 ff.

[93] viii. 144 αὖτις δὲ τὸ Ἑλληνικόν, ἐὸν ὅμαιμόν τε καὶ ὁμόγλωσσον, καὶ θεῶν ἱδρύματά τε κοινά καὶ θυσίαι ἤθεά τε ὁμότροπα, τῶν προδότας γενέσθαι Ἀφηναίους οὐκ ἂν εὖ ἔχοι.

[94] Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt, pp. 18-20.

[95] Herodotus iv. 23 ἄνθρωποι λεγόμενοι εἶναι (1) πάντες φαλακροὶ ἐκ γενετῆς γινόμενοι, καὶ ἔρσενες καὶ φήλεαι ὁμοίως, καὶ γένεια ἔχροντες μεγάλα, (2) φονὴν δὲ ἰδίης ἱέντες, (3) ἐσθῆτι δὲ χρεώμενοι Σκυθικῇ, (4) ζῆντες δὲ ἀπο δενδρέον. An exactly similar series of adversatives follows in the very next sentence, about the Pontikon tree.

[96] Herodotus vii. 183.

[97] Herodotus vii. 181.

[98] Herodotus iv. 110.

[99] The phrase of Herodotus i. 105, if interpreted strictly, means that the Scythians of Scythia themselves suffered from this defect, and gave as the reason for it the story which he relates.

[100] Hippocrates, περι ἱερῆς vούσου (ed. Kuhn, Leipzig, p. 561), ἐμοὶ δὲ καὶ αὐτέῳ δοκεῖ ταῦτα τὰ πάθεα θεῖα εἶναι καὶ τἆλλα πάντα, καὶ οὐδὲν ἕτερος ἑτέρου θειότερος οὐδὲ ἀντθρωπίνωτερον, ἀλλὰ πάντα θεῖα· ἕκαστον καὶ ἔχει φύσιν τῶν τοιουτέων, καὶ οὐδὲν ἄνευ φύσιος γίγνεται.

[101] Herodotus v. 9.

[102] Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, p. 69.

[103] Egypt, of course, had done great things in this direction under the earliest dynasties.

[104] Hippocrates, περὶ Ἀέρων (ed. Kuhn), p. 551.

[105] Hippocrates, περὶ Ἀέρων (ed. Kuhn), p. 550.

[106] Diogenes Laertius ii. 16 (R. P. 169).

[107] Simpl. in Arist. Phys. fol. 6 (R. P. 170).

[108] Choerilus is the only early authority for the theory, criticized by Hdt. iii. 115, that the Eridanus is in Germany. Serv. ad Virg. G. i. 482 ‘Thesias (Ctesias) hunc (Eridanum) in Media esse, Choerilus in Germania, in quo flumine Edion (Phaethon) extinctus est.’ Fr. 13 (Didot). Choerilus fr. 3 (Didot):

μηλονόμοι δὲ Σάκαι, γενεῇ Σκύθαι, αὐτὰρ ἔναιον Ἀσίδα πυροφόρον, νομάδων γε μὲν ἦσαν ἄποικοι ἀνθρὠπων νομίμων.

[109] Fragment 189 ἀλλ’ ἱππάκης βρωτῆρες εὔνομιοι Σκύται. Fragment 184:

ἔπειτα δ’ ἥξει δῆμον ἐνδικώτατον ... ἁπάντων καὶ φιλοξενώτατον Γαβίους, ἵν οὔτ’ ἄροτρον οὔτε γατόμος τέμνει δίκελλ’ ἄρουραν, ἀλλ’ αὐτόσποροι γύαι φέρουσι βίοτον ἄφθονον βρότοις.

[110] Plato, Rep. 370-2.

[111] Plato, Rep. 373.

[112] Far more explicit and detailed is the comparative study of foreign customs which underlies Socratic doctrine in the Laws. The stock examples of the fifth century, Sarmatians (804 E), Amazons (806 A), Thracians (805 D), and the like, are all there, side by side with the Spartans and the Cretans, the Persians, the Egyptians, and the Phoenicians (750 C). But the anthropological basis of fourth-century thought is a distinct subject, and would require a whole chapter to itself.

[113] Hdt. i. 59.

[114] P. Ure, Journ. Hell. Studies, xxvi. pp. 134 ff.

[115] Aen. i. 607 foll. Cp. Aen. iii. 429—

Praestat Trinacrii metas lustrare Pachyni Cessantem, longos et circumflectere cursus:

where the slow movement and circuitous course of a lustratio are in the poet’s mind.

[116] Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, iii. p. 175. Cp. Serv. Aen. iii. 67, and Virg. Aen. vi. 229.

[117] Iron was taboo in the grove of Dea Dia: but the Fratres Arvales had a system of piacula enabling them to use it for pruning, &c., when necessary.—Henzen, Acta Fratr. Arv. 22.

[118] Serv. Aen. i. 136, x. 32, xi. 842.

[119] Cato R. R. 139, 140; Henzen, Acta Fratr. Arv. 136 foll.: cp. Ovid, Fasti iv. 749 foll.

[120] This is my own inference from the language of Cato in chapters 83 and 141. When the cattle are in the forest, there is a special formula of prayer for them: see ch. 83. The word ager could hardly, I think, be taken as including the woodland in which the flocks fed in summer; and in May, when the lustratio agri took place, they would be already off the winter pasture. In the formula for this lustratio (141) Cato does include the pastores and pecua; but they are not the most conspicuous objects of the prayer, and I am inclined to think that they are mentioned only as belonging to the farm, though not at the moment within its sacred boundary.

[121] Plin. N. H. xvii. 266, xxviii. 78.

[122] Relig. u. Kultus, p. 130.

[123] Varro, L. L. v. 143; Serv. Aen. v. 755 (from Cato); Plut. Romulus x.

[124] Bücheler, Umbrica, p. 42 foll.

[125] Bücheler, Umbrica, p. 84 foll.

[126] Perhaps, too, the scramble for the horse’s head between two divisions of the population was objectionable in their eyes.

[127] Relig. u. Kultus, p. 131. On the same day there was a sacrifice to that fortis dea, Nerio without doubt, who was in some unknown sense the consort of Mars (Ovid, Fasti iii. 849).

[128] Farnell, Evolution of Religion, p. 136.

[129] De Nat. Deorum, ii. 36. 82.





Transcriber’s Note:

Uncertain or antiquated spellings or ancient words were not corrected.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate.

Footnotes have been moved to the end of the text and hyper-linked.

Errors in punctuation and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected.

Typographical errors have been silently corrected but other variations in spelling and punctuation remain unaltered.

The cover image was designed by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.