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- Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 - 1/59 -


MYTH, RITUAL, AND RELIGION

by Andrew Lang

Volume One

CONTENTS

PREFACE TO NEW IMPRESSION.

PREFACE TO NEW EDITION.

CHAPTER I. -- SYSTEMS OF MYTHOLOGY.

Definitions of religion--Contradictory evidence--"Belief in spiritual beings"--Objection to Mr. Tylor's definition--Definition as regards this argument--Problem: the contradiction between religion and myth--Two human moods--Examples--Case of Greece-- Ancient mythologists--Criticism by Eusebius--Modern mythological systems--Mr. Max Muller--Mannhardt.

CHAPTER II. -- NEW SYSTEM PROPOSED.

Chapter I. recapitulated--Proposal of a new method: Science of comparative or historical study of man--Anticipated in part by Eusebius, Fontenelle, De Brosses, Spencer (of C. C. C., Cambridge), and Mannhardt--Science of Tylor--Object of inquiry: to find condition of human intellect in which marvels of myth are parts of practical everyday belief--This is the savage state--Savages described--The wild element of myth a survival from the savage state--Advantages of this method--Partly accounts for wide DIFFUSION as well as ORIGIN of myths--Connected with general theory of evolution--Puzzling example of myth of the water- swallower--Professor Tiele's criticism of the method-- Objections to method, and answer to these--See Appendix B.

CHAPTER III. -- THE MENTAL CONDITION OF SAVAGES--CONFUSION WITH NATURE--TOTEMISM.

The mental condition of savages the basis of the irrational element in myth--Characteristics of that condition: (1) Confusion of all things in an equality of presumed animation and intelligence; (2) Belief in sorcery; (3) Spiritualism; (4) Curiosity; (5) Easy credulity and mental indolence--The curiosity is satisfied, thanks to the credulity, by myths in answer to all inquiries--Evidence for this--Mr. Tylor's opinion--Mr. Im Thurn--Jesuit missionaries' Relations--Examples of confusion between men, plants, beasts and other natural objects--Reports of travellers--Evidence from institution of totemism--Definition of totemism--Totemism in Australia, Africa, America, the Oceanic Islands, India, North Asia-- Conclusions: Totemism being found so widely distributed, is a proof of the existence of that savage mental condition in which no line is drawn between men and the other things in the world. This confusion is one of the characteristics of myth in all races.

CHAPTER IV. -- THE MENTAL CONDITION OF SAVAGES--MAGIC-- METAMORPHOSIS--METAPHYSIC--PSYCHOLOGY.

Claims of sorcerers--Savage scientific speculation--Theory of causation--Credulity, except as to new religious ideas--"Post hoc, ergo propter hoc"--Fundamental ideas of magic--Examples: incantations, ghosts, spirits--Evidence of rank and other institutions in proof of confusions of mind exhibited in magical beliefs.

CHAPTER V. -- NATURE MYTHS.

Savage fancy, curiosity and credulity illustrated in nature myths-- In these all phenomena are explained by belief in the general animation of everything, combined with belief in metamorphosis--Sun myths, Asian, Australian, African, Melanesian, Indian, Californian, Brazilian, Maori, Samoan--Moon myths, Australian, Muysca, Mexican, Zulu, Macassar, Greenland, Piute, Malay--Thunder myths--Greek and Aryan sun and moon myths--Star myths--Myths, savage and civilised, of animals, accounting for their marks and habits--Examples of custom of claiming blood kinship with lower animals--Myths of various plants and trees--Myths of stones, and of metamorphosis into stones, Greek, Australian and American--The whole natural philosophy of savages expressed in myths, and survives in folk-lore and classical poetry; and legends of metamorphosis.

CHAPTER VI. -- NON-ARYAN MYTHS OF THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD AND OF MAN.

Confusions of myth--Various origins of man and of things--Myths of Australia, Andaman Islands, Bushmen, Ovaherero, Namaquas, Zulus, Hurons, Iroquois, Diggers, Navajoes, Winnebagoes, Chaldaeans, Thlinkeets, Pacific Islanders, Maoris, Aztecs, Peruvians-- Similarity of ideas pervading all those peoples in various conditions of society and culture.

CHAPTER VII. -- INDO-ARYAN MYTHS--SOURCES OF EVIDENCE.

Authorities--Vedas--Brahmanas--Social condition of Vedic India-- Arts--Ranks--War--Vedic fetishism--Ancestor worship--Date of Rig- Veda Hymns doubtful--Obscurity of the Hymns--Difficulty of interpreting the real character of Veda--Not primitive but sacerdotal--The moral purity not innocence but refinement.

CHAPTER VIII. -- INDIAN MYTHS OF THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD AND OF MAN.

Comparison of Vedic and savage myths--The metaphysical Vedic account of the beginning of things--Opposite and savage fable of world made out of fragments of a man--Discussion of this hymn-- Absurdities of Brahmanas--Prajapati, a Vedic Unkulunkulu or Qat-- Evolutionary myths--Marriage of heaven and earth--Myths of Puranas, their savage parallels--Most savage myths are repeated in Brahmanas.

CHAPTER IX. -- GREEK MYTHS OF THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD AND MAN.

The Greeks practically civilised when we first meet them in Homer-- Their mythology, however, is full of repulsive features--The hypothesis that many of these are savage survivals--Are there other examples of such survival in Greek life and institutions?--Greek opinion was constant that the race had been savage--Illustrations of savage survival from Greek law of homicide, from magic, religion, human sacrifice, religious art, traces of totemism, and from the mysteries--Conclusion: that savage survival may also be expected in Greek myths.

CHAPTER X. -- GREEK COSMOGONIC MYTHS.

Nature of the evidence--Traditions of origin of the world and man-- Homeric, Hesiodic and Orphic myths--Later evidence of historians, dramatists, commentators--The Homeric story comparatively pure--The story in Hesiod, and its savage analogues--The explanations of the myth of Cronus, modern and ancient--The Orphic cosmogony--Phanes and Prajapati--Greek myths of the origin of man--Their savage analogues.

CHAPTER XI. -- SAVAGE DIVINE MYTHS.

The origin of a belief in GOD beyond the ken of history and of speculation--Sketch of conjectural theories--Two elements in all beliefs, whether of backward or civilised races--The Mythical and the Religious--These may be coeval, or either may be older than the other--Difficulty of study--The current anthropological theory-- Stated objections to the theory--Gods and spirits--Suggestion that savage religion is borrowed from Europeans--Reply to Mr. Tylor's arguments on this head--The morality of savages.

PREFACE TO NEW IMPRESSION.

When this book first appeared (1886), the philological school of interpretation of religion and myth, being then still powerful in England, was criticised and opposed by the author. In Science, as on the Turkish throne of old, "Amurath to Amurath succeeds"; the philological theories of religion and myth have now yielded to anthropological methods. The centre of the anthropological position was the "ghost theory" of Mr. Herbert Spencer, the "Animistic" theory of Mr. E. R. Tylor, according to whom the propitiation of ancestral and other spirits leads to polytheism, and thence to monotheism. In the second edition (1901) of this work the author argued that the belief in a "relatively supreme being," anthropomorphic was as old as, and might be even older, than animistic religion. This theory he exhibited at greater length, and with a larger collection of evidence, in his Making of Religion.

Since 1901, a great deal of fresh testimony as to what Mr. Howitt styles the "All Father" in savage and barbaric religions has accrued. As regards this being in Africa, the reader may consult the volumes of the New Series of the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, which are full of African evidence, not, as yet, discussed, to my knowledge, by any writer on the History of Religion. As late as Man, for July, 1906, No. 66, Mr. Parkinson published interesting Yoruba legends about Oleron, the maker and father of men, and Oro, the Master of the Bull Roarer.

From Australia, we have Mr. Howitt's account of the All Father in his Native Tribes of South-East Australia, with the account of the All Father of the Central Australian tribe, the Kaitish, in North Central Tribes of Australia, by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen (1904), also The Euahlayi Tribe, by Mrs. Langley Parker (1906). These masterly books are indispensable to all students of the subject, while, in Messrs. Spencer and Gillen's work cited, and in their earlier Native Tribes of Central Australia, we are introduced to savages who offer an elaborate animistic theory, and are said to


Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 - 1/59

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