And when we turn to the traditions of the kindred and more ancient race, the Toltecs, we find that, after the fall of the fire from heaven, the people, emerging from the
[1. “North Americans of Antiquity,” p. 240.]
seven caves, wandered one hundred and four years, “suffering from nakedness, hunger, and cold, over many lands, across expanses of sea, and through untold hardships,” precisely as narrated in the foregoing pathetic prayer.
It tells of the migration of a race, over the desolated world, during the Age of Darkness. And we will find something, hereafter, very much like it, in the Book of Job.
THE TRIUMPH OF THE SUN.
A GREAT solar-myth underlies all the ancient mythologies. It commemorates the death and resurrection of the sun. It signifies the destruction of the light by the clouds, the darkness, and the eventual return of the great luminary of the world.
The Syrian Adonis, the sun-god, the Hebrew Tamheur, and the Assyrian Du-Zu, all suffered a sudden and violent death, disappeared for a time from the sight of men, and were at last raised from the dead.
The myth is the primeval form of the resurrection.
All through the Gothic legends runs this thought—the battle of the Light with the Darkness; the temporary death of the Light, and its final triumph over the grave. Sometimes we have but a fragment of the story.
In the Saxon Beowulf we have Grendel, a terrible monster, who comes to the palace-hall at midnight, and drags out the sleepers and sucks their blood. Beowulf assails him. A ghastly struggle follows in the darkness. Grendel is killed. But his fearful mother, the devil’s clam, comes to avenge his death; she attacks Beowulf, and is slain. There comes a third dragon, which Beowulf kills, but is stifled with the breath of the monster and dies, rejoicing, however, that the dragon has brought with him a great treasure of gold, which will make his people rich.
[1. Poor, “Sanskrit and Kindred Literatures,” p. 315.
Here, again, are the three comets, the wolf, the snake, and the dog of Ragnarok; the three arrows of the American legends; the three monsters of Hesiod.
When we turn to Egypt we find that their whole religion was constructed upon legends relating to the ages of fire and ice, and the victory of the sun-god over the evil-one. We find everywhere a recollection of the days of cloud, “when darkness dwelt upon the face of the deep.”
Osiris, their great god, represented the sun in his darkened or nocturnal or ruined condition, before the coming of day. M. Mariette-Bey says:
“Originally, Osiris is the nocturnal sun; he is the primordial night of chaos; he is consequently anterior to Ra, the Sun of Day."