Custom and Myth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Custom and Myth.

Hartung {61c} takes Cronus, when he mutilates Uranus, to be the fire of the sun, scorching the sky of spring.  This, again, is somewhat out of accord with Schwartz’s idea, that Cronus is the storm-god, the cloud-swallowing deity, his sickle the rainbow, and the blood of Uranus the lightning. {61d} According to Prof.  Sayce, again, {62a} the blood-drops of Uranus are rain-drops.  Cronus is the sun-god, piercing the dark cloud, which is just the reverse of Schwartz’s idea.  Prof.  Sayce sees points in common between the legend of Moloch, or of Baal under the name of Moloch, and the myth of Cronus.  But Moloch, he thinks, is not a god of Phoenician origin, but a deity borrowed from ’the primitive Accadian population of Babylonia.’  Mr. Isaac Taylor, again, explains Cronus as the sky which swallows and reproduces the stars.  The story of the sickle may be derived from the crescent moon, the ‘silver sickle,’ or from a crescent-shaped piece of meteoric iron—­for, in this theory, the fetich-stone of Delphi is a piece of that substance.

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It will be observed that any one of these theories, if accepted, is much more ‘minute in detail’ than our humble suggestion.  He who adopts any one of them, knows all about it.  He knows that Cronus is a purely Greek god, or that he is connected with the Sanskrit Krana, which Tiele, {62b} unhappily, says is ‘a very dubious word.’  Or the mythologist may be quite confident that Cronus is neither Greek nor, in any sense, Sanskrit, but Phoenician.  A not less adequate interpretation assigns him ultimately to Accadia.  While the inquirer who can choose a system and stick to it knows the exact nationality of Cronus, he is also well acquainted with his character as a nature-god.  He may be Time, or perhaps he is the Summer Heat, and a horned god; or he is the harvest-god, or the god of storm and darkness, or the midnight sky,—­the choice is wide; or he is the lord of dark and light, and his children are the stars, the clouds, the summer months, the light-powers, or what you will.  The mythologist has only to make his selection.

The system according to which we tried to interpret the myth is less ondoyant et divers.  We do not even pretend to explain everything.  We do not guess at the meaning and root of the word Cronus.  We only find parallels to the myth among savages, whose mental condition is fertile in such legends.  And we only infer that the myth of Cronus was originally evolved by persons also in the savage intellectual condition.  The survival we explain as, in a previous essay, we explained the survival of the bull-roarer by the conservatism of the religious instinct.


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Custom and Myth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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