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GREEK MYTHOLOGY AND RELIGION
THE last twelve months have not seen the production of any epoch-making work or treatise on the whole or any important section of this subject. The very few scholars in this country who are devoted to this line of research appear for the most part preoccupied with its prehistoric questions. Nor have excavations on classic sites, though sedulously and successfully pursued, achieved any striking discovery throwing new light on the forms or personalities of Greek cult. The further investigations of the British School on the site of the Temple of Artemis Orthia 1 have revealed a number of ivory plaquettes of very archaic style, some of them engraved with the type of the Asiatic Artemis winged and grasping water birds. These are interesting as proving the prevalence of this conception of the goddess as "the Lady of the Lake," but this was not the type of Artemis 'Opeia, whose temple-image is probably represented by the form on another plaquette and by a terra-cotta showing us a hieratic type of the goddess wearing a polos on her head, with her arms and hands clenched at the side, and with the lower parts almost aniconic.3 There is nothing here that helps to convey the special character of 'Opeia. A portion of the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, belonging properly to 1902, but mysteriously kept back till 1907, publishes the result of French excavation in Tenos, of which the chief gain for the student of Greek religion is the inscriptions, mainly of the second and first centuries B.C., that throw
1 British School Annual, 1906-1907. 3 Ibid. p. 106, figs. 32, 33.
2 lbid. figs. 17b, 18a.
light on the joint worship of Poseidon and Amphitrite. They help to correct the hasty impression of those who have not studied the Hellenic religion patiently to the end that its deities had lost their hold on the popular mind some time before our era; for here we find the private citizen consecrating his children to the old sea-god and goddess with undiminished fervour of faith; and here in Tenos, Poseidon appears at last to have acquired some literary culture, being associated with Dionysos and tragic performances in the theatre. The inscriptions found in Delos, published in the same volume, serve to illustrate the history of the island and the power of the Apolline cult in the later period. And one is of special interest as containing a prayer to the goddess Hestia, who in Delos enjoyed a public cult and shared the ministration of a στεφανηφόρος with Apollo.
Looking at the literature of the last year, I have noticed only one book published that deals with mythology, Guerber's Myths of Greece and Rome, a compendium that might have been produced fifty years ago and which is quite valueless for the student.3
As regards Greek religion, scholars and the literary public will welcome the new edition of Miss Harrison's Prolegomena, in which certain mistakes that were pointed out in the first edition are corrected, but no new point of view or important change of theory is presented. One may regret that more consideration has not been paid to more recent literature, and that in particular the social anthropology, which colours much of the religious statement, has not been brought into closer accord with modern knowledge. But after all it is better to write a new book than to rewrite an old one; and Miss Harrison in the preface promises us an Epilegomena.
The new volume by Prof. Toutain of his Les cultes Paiens dans l'Empire Romain concerns the study of Roman rather than Greek religion, but the preface contains a criticism of 2 Ibid. p. 509.
1 E.g. vol. xxvi., p. 430, inscr. 24. 3 Fairbank's Mythology of Greece and Rome, reviewed in Classical Philology, 1908, is likely to be a more important work; I have unfortunately not yet been able to obtain a copy.
the modern anthropological method which is well expressed and is of general interest; it was developed at greater length in a paper read by Prof. Toutain before the "Congress for the History of Religions," entitled Le Totémisme et l'Histoire des Religions du Monde Antique. He protests against the uncritical application of anthropologic hypotheses, and especially against the extravagance of the totemistic; and the protest is timely and just, for "totemism" is becoming a meaningless catchword for sciolist compilers of handbooks of the various religions. But the fervour of his protest seems unfortunately combined with a suspicion, even with a rejection, of the claim of primitive anthropology to contribute valuable aid to the understanding of higher religion. We ought to recognise that every science in its infancy has its crude hypotheses, and that if we are now able to distinguish between totemism and zoolatry and to discern that the former has not necessarily been so potent a force in religious evolution as was once supposed, and if most of us have been able to awake from the spell of religious "matriarchal" theories, it is to nothing else than a sounder and expanding anthropology that we owe this advance. The result of its neglect is seen in the arid and comparatively helpless exposition of ancient religion produced by those who try to dispense with its aid and its light.
M Reinach is certainly not one of these; and his third volume of Cultes, Mythes, et Religions which has recently appeared, and which deals with many problems of early Greek religion and mythology, contains many original and brilliant and some fruitful suggestions derived from anthropologic study. It is partly M. Reinach who has aroused M. Toutain; and he is indeed a perfervid votary of totemism. Nevertheless, he is a fine tracker of lost scents, and his sagacity is rarely wasted. His discussion of the Aktaion myth deserves close attention: he explains it as a sacra
1 S. Reinach, Cultes, Mythes, et Religions, tom. iii. (1907). Some of the chapters have appeared as separate papers in various learned journals, and a few have already been noticed in my account in The Year's Work, 1907.
mental σapayuós of the stag, performed by a clan of "hinds," that is, of women who masquerade as "hinds" and who worship Artemis, herself a "hind" of a totemistic clan. The theory that the legend has arisen from a sacramental σTарayuós is undoubtedly true; we have only to compare it with the older meteorological explanations to feel its superiority.1
But it can maintain itself without the use of the words "totem" or "clan." The sacramental σapayμós was a special feature of Dionysiac ritual, and was usually performed by the maenads, who were not necessarily a clan, to obtain a physical communion with the god, and thereby to -strengthen their powers of vegetation magic. And we may suspect that the Boeotian Aktaion story was originally Bacchic, and that Artemis came only accidentally into it; for it belongs to Orchomenos and the Kadmos family, and Dionysos was far more at home in this family and in this locality than was Artemis. And the parallel version of the same story at Corinth, which M. Reinach omits to consider, is undoubtedly Dionysiac. Another interesting chapter is that in which he deals with the Prometheus myth. Prometheus, the philanthropic Titan, he explains as the eagle, the bird-god once worshipped in its own right before an early zoolatry had been displaced by the anthropomorphism imported from the north by immigrant "Pelasgians, Minyans, Aryans." Prometheus was a bird, because in many savage myths it is a bird that brings down the fire for the use of man: this is the dangerous à priori method of argument. But M. Reinach's second argument is weightier: the eagle as divine bird was originally placed in the tympanum or on the akroteria of temples, as the writer proves by the successful criticism of certain texts, and must have been secured in its position by something like a pillar
1 Vide, for instance, the article on "Aktaion" in Roscher's Lexikon, vol. i.
2 I have pointed this out and discussed the meaning of the Dionysiac rapayuós in the forthcoming volume of Cults of the Greek States.
and cords: then when the eagle was anthropomorphised as Prometheus, the pillar and cords were interpreted as a punishment inflicted upon him by the angry High God. This explanation has for me the fascination that it is the only one that has ever been advanced that explains the torture of the Titan. M. Reinach refers, indeed, to a paper of Miss Harrison's in which she appears to derive the legend and personality of the Titan from an old bird and pillar cult. But suppose we accept the view that Prometheus was orignally a sacred pillar or an eagle or a combination of the two we may yet feel, as we used to feel about the old solar theories of gods and heroes, that this still leaves most of the complete legend unexplained. And clear evidence is still wanting to show that the association of Prometheus with the pillar and the eagle was originally of a sacred kind.
The great Lexikon edited by Roscher progresses at fair speed; and the issues of 1907 contain some important articles. "Poseidon" is treated by E. Meyer with his usual great learning, but without any clear presentation of many of the interesting problems; the ethnic importance of the cult of Poseidon Hippios is almost ignored; nor does he clearly discuss the relations of Erechtheus to Poseidon, while he adheres to the unscientific derivation of ̔Ελικώνιος.
A noteworthy monograph has been published by Radet on "Nike Volante," in which he derives the type of the winged goddess of Victory from that of the Πότνια θηρῶν, the winged Asiatic goddess identified with Artemis; the Nike of Delos, which is supposed to have stood on the roof of the Artemision, he explains as Artemis-Nike, while he admits that at Athens Nike arose as Athena-Nike.
A paper by Vollgraff on "Dionysos Eleuthereus" deserves critical attention: 3 his thesis that the god came in from Eleutherai to Athens at the time when the former was
1 Rev. Archéol. 1907: I regret to have been accidentally prevented from reading this paper before being obliged to send off this notice.
2 Akad. des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1908, p. 221. 3 Ath. Mitt. 1907.