There is another curious fact to be considered in connection with these legends—that the calamity seems to have brought with it some compensating wealth.
Thus we find Beowulf, when destroyed by the midnight monster, rejoicing to think that his people would receive a treasure, a fortune by the monster’s death.
Hence we have a whole mass of legends wherein a dragon or great serpent is associated with a precious horde of gold or jewels.
“The Scythians had a saga of the sacred gold which fell burning from heaven. The ancients had also some strange fictions of silver which fell from heaven, and with which it had been attempted, under the Emperor Severus, to cover bronze coins."
“In Peru the god of riches was worshiped under the image of a rattlesnake, horned and hairy, with a tail of gold. It was said to have descended from the heavens in
[1. “Cosmos,” vol. i, p. 115.]
the sight of all the people, and to have been seen by the whole army of the Inca."
The Peruvians—probably in reference to this event—chose as their arms two serpents with their tails interlaced.
Among the Greeks and ancient Germans the fiery dragon was the dispenser of riches, and “watches a treasure in the earth."
These legends may be explained by the fact that in the Ural Mountains, on the east of Europe, in South America, in South Africa, and in other localities, the Drift gravels contain gold and precious stones.
The diamond is found in drift-gravels alone. It is pure carbon crystallized. Man has been unable to reproduce it, except in minute particles; nor can he tell in what laboratory of nature it has been fabricated. It is not found in situ in any of the rocks of an earth-origin. Has it been formed in space? Is it an outcome of that pure carbon which the spectroscope has revealed to us as burning in some of the comets?
[1. Brinton’s “Myths of the New World,” p. 125.
2. Ibid., p. 125.]
THE ARABIAN MYTHS.
AND when we turn to the Arabian tales, we not only see, by their identity with the Hindoo and Slavonic legends, that they are of great antiquity, dating back to the time when these widely diverse races, Aryan and Semitic, were one, but we find in them many allusions to the battle between good and evil, between God and the serpent.
Abou Mohammed the Lazy, who is a very great magician, with power over the forces of the air and the Afrites, beholds a battle between two great snakes, one tawny-colored, the other white. The tawny serpent is overcoming the white one; but Abou Mohammed kills it with a rock. “The white serpent” (the sun) “departed and was absent for a while, but returned”; and the tawny serpent was torn to pieces and scattered over the land, and nothing remained of her but her head.