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J. G. FRAZER, D.C.L., LL.D., Lrrr.D. 






Third Edition March 1911 
Reprinted July 1911 




NATURE ... . Pp. 1-6 

The King of the Wood at Nemi probably a departmental king of nature, 
pp. I sg. ; Kings of Rain in Africa, 2 sq. ; Kings of Fire and Water in 
Cambodia, 3-6. 


I. Tree-spirits, pp. 7-45. Great forests of ancient Europe, 7 sq. ; tree-worship 
practised by all Aryan races in Europe, 9-11 ; trees regarded as animate, 
12-14; tree-spirits, sacrifices to trees, 14-17; trees sensitive to wounds, 
18; apologies for cutting down trees, 18-20; bleeding trees, 20; trees 
threatened to make them bear fruit, 20-22 ; attempts to deceive spirits of 
trees and plants, 22-24 5 trees married to each other, 24-28 ; trees in 
blossom and rice in bloom treated like pregnant women, 28 sq. ; trees 
tenanted by the souls of the dead, 29-33 ; trees as the abode, not the 
body, of spirits, 33 sq. ; ceremonies at felling trees, 34-39 ; propitiating 
tree-spirits in house-timber, 39 sq. ; sacred trees the abode of spirits, 
40-43 ; sacred groves, 43-45. 

2. Beneficent Powers of Tree-spirits, pp. 45-58. Tree -spirit develops into 
anthropomorphic deity of the woods, 45 ; tree-spirits give rain and sun- 
shine, 46 sq. ; tree-spirits make crops to grow, 47 ; the Harvest May 
and kindred customs, 47-49 ; tree-spirits make herds and women fruitful, 
5-5 2 5 green boughs protect against witchcraft, 52-55 ; influence of tree- 
spirits on cattle among the Wends, Esthonians, and Circassians, 55 sg. ; 
tree-spirits grant offspring or easy delivery to women, 56-58. 



MODERN EUROPE . .Pp. 59-96 

May-trees in Europe, especially England, 59 sq. ; May-garlands in England, 
60-63 > May customs in France, Germany, and Greece, 63 sq . ; Whitsun- 
tide customs in Russia, 64 ; May-trees in Germany and Sweden, 64 sq. ; 
Midsummer trees and poles in Sweden, 65 sq. ; village May-poles in 
England and Germany, 66-71 ; tree-spirit detached from tree and repre- 
sented in human form, Esthonian tale, 71-73; tree-spirit represented 
simultaneously in vegetable and human form, 73 sq. ; the Little May 
Rose, 74; the Walker ; 75; Green George, 75 sq . ; double representa- 
tion of tree-spirit by tree and man among the Oraons, 76 sq. ; double 
representation of harvest -goddess Gauri, 77 sq. ; W. Mannhardt's conclu- 
sions, 78 sq. ; tree -spirit or vegetation - spirit represented by a person 
alone, 79 ; leaf-clad mummers (Green George, Little Leaf Man, Jack-in- 
the-Green, etc.), 79-84 ; leaf- clad mummers called Kings or Queens 
(King and Queen of May, Whitsuntide King, etc.), 84-91 ; Whitsuntide 
Bridegroom and Bride, 91 sq. ; Midsummer Bridegroom and Bride, 92 ; 
the Forsaken Bridegroom or Bride, 92-94 ; St. Bride in Scotland and the 
Isle, of Man, 94 sq. ; May Bride or Whitsuntide Bride, 95 sq. 


SEXES ON VEGETATION . . . Pp. 97-119 

The marriage of the King and Queen of May intended to promote the growth of 
vegetation by homoeopathic magic, 97 sq. ; intercourse of the sexes prac- 
tised to make the crops grow and fruit-trees to bear fruit, 98-101 ; parents 
of twins supposed to fertilise the bananas in Uganda, 101-103 > relics of 
similar customs in Europe, 103 sq. ; continence practised in order to 
make the crops grow, 104-107 ; incest and illicit love supposed to blight 
the fruits of the earth by causing drought or excessive rain, 107-113; 
traces of similar beliefs as to the blighting effect of adultery and incest 
among the ancient Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Irish, 114-116; possible 
influence of such beliefs on the institution of the forbidden degrees of 
kinship, 116 sq. ; explanation of the seeming contradiction of the fore- 
going customs, 117 ; indirect benefit to humanity of some of these super 
stitions, 117-119. 


I I. Diana as a Goddess of Fertility, pp. 120-129. Dramatic marriages of gods 
and goddesses as a charm to promote vegetation, 120 sq. ; Diana as a 
goddess of the woodlands, 121 ; sanctity of holy groves in antiquity, 
121-123 ; the breaking of the Golden Bough a solemn rite, not a mere 
piece of bravado, 123 sq. ; Diana a goddess of the teeming life of nature, 


both animal and vegetable, 124 ; deities of woodlands naturally tne 
patrons of the beasts of the woods, 124 sq. ; the crowning of hunting 
dogs on Diana's day a purification for their slaughter of the beasts of the 
wood, 125-128 ; as goddess of the moon, especially the yellow harvest 
moon, Diana a goddess of crops and of childbirth, 128 sq. ; as a goddess 
of fertility Diana needed a male partner, 129. 

2. The Marriage of the Gods, pp. 129-155. Marriages of the gods in Baby- 
lonia and Assyria, 1 29 sq. ; marriage of the god Ammon to the Queen of 
Egypt, 130-135 ; Apollo and his prophetess at Patara, 135 ; Artemis and 
the Essenes at Ephesus, 135 sq. ; marriage of Dionysus and the Queen at 
Athens, 136-138; marriage of Zeus and Demeter at Eleusis, 138-140; 
marriage of Zeus and Hera at Plataea, 140-143; marriage of Zeus and 
Hera in other parts of Greece, 143 ; the god Frey and his human wife in 
Sweden, 143 sq. ; similar rites in ancient Gaul, 144 sq. ; marriages of 
gods to images or living women among uncivilised peoples, 145 sqq. ; 
custom of the Wotyaks, 145 sq. ; custom of the Peruvian Indians, 146 ; 
marriage of a woman to the Sun among the Blackfoot Indians, 146 sq. ; 
marriage of girls to fishing -nets among the Hurons and Algonquins, 

147 sq. ; marriage of the Sun-god and Earth-goddess among the Oraons, 

148 sq. ; marriage of women to gods in India and Africa, 149 sq. ; 
marriage of women to water-gods and crocodiles, 150-152; virgin sacri- 
ficed as a bride to the jinnee of the sea in the Maldive Islands, 153-155. 

3. Sacrifices to Water-spirits, pp. 155-170. Stories of the Perseus and Andro- 
meda type, 155 sq. ; water -spirits conceived as serpents or dragons, 
156 sq. ; sacrifices of human beings to water -spirits, 157-159; water- 
spirits as dispensers of fertility, 1 59 ; water-spirits bestow offspring on 
women, 159-161 ; love of river-spirits for women in Greek mythology, 
161 sq. ; the Slaying of the Dragon at Furth in Bavaria, 163 sq. ; St. 
Remain and the Dragon at Rouen, 164-170. 


AND ALBA Pp. 171-194 

I. Numa and Egeria, pp. 171-173. Egeria a nymph of water and the oak, 
perhaps a form of Diana, 171 sq. ; marriage of Numa and Egeria a 
reminiscence of the marriage of the King of Rome to a goddess of water 
and vegetation, 172 sq. 

2. The King as Jupiter, pp. 174-194. The Roman king personated Jupiter 
and wore his costume, 174-176 ; the oak crown as a symbol of divinity, 
176 sq. ; personation of the dead by masked men among the Romans, 
176; the kings of Alba as personifications of Jupiter, 178-181; legends of 
the deaths of Roman kings point to their connexion with the thunder-god, 
181-183 ; l ca l Jupiters in Latium, 183 sq. ; the oak-groves of ancient 
Rome, 184-187; Latian Jupiter on the Alban Mount, 187; woods of 
Latium in antiquity, 187 sq. ; Latin worship of Jupiter like the Druidical 


worship of the oak, 188 sg. ; sacred marriage of Jupiter and Juno, 
189 sg. ; Janus and Cama, 190 sg. ; the Flamen Dialis and Flaminica 
as representatives of Jupiter and Juno, 191 sg. ', marriage of the Roman 
king to the oak -goddess, 193 sg. 


Sacred marriage of the Fire-god with a woman, 195 ; legends of the birth 
of Latin kings from Vestal Virgins impregnated by the fire, 195-197 5 
Vestal Virgins as wives of the Fire-god, 198 sg. ; the Vestal fire originally 
the fire on the king's hearth, 199 sg. ; the round temple of Vesta a copy 
of the old round hut of the early Latins, 200-202 ;' rude pottery used in 
Roman ritual, 202 sg. ; superstitions as to the making of pottery, 204^. ; 
sanctity of the storeroom at Rome, 205 ; the temple of Vesta with its 
sacred fire a copy of the king's house, 206. 


Vestal fire at Rome rekindled by the fire-drill, 207 ; use of the fire-drill by savages, 
207 sgg. ; the fire-sticks regarded by savages as male and female, 208- 
21 1 ; fire-customs of the Herero, 211 sgg. ; sacred fire among the Herero 
maintained in the chiefs hut by his unmarried daughter, 213-215; the 
Herero chief as priest of the hearth, 215-217; sacred Herero fire 
rekindled by fire-sticks, which are regarded as male and female, and are 
made from the sacred ancestral tree, 217-221 ; the sacred Herero hearth 
a special seat of the ancestral spirits, 221 sg. ; sacred fire-sticks of the 
Herero represent deceased ancestors, 222-224; sacred fire -boards as 
family deities among the Koryaks and Chuckchees, 225 sg. 


MOTHER VESTA . . . .Pp. 227-252 

Similarity between the fire -customs of the Herero and the ancient Latins, 
227-229 ; rites performed by the Vestals for the fertility of the earth and 
the fecundity of cattle, 229 ; the Vestals as embodiments of Vesta, a 
mother-goddess of fertility, 229 sg. ; the domestic fire as a fecundating 
agent in marriage ritual, 230 sg. ; newborn children and the domestic 
fire, 231 sg. ; reasons for ascribing a procreative virtue to fire, 233-235 ; 
fire kindled by friction by human representatives of the Fire-father and 
Fire-mother, 235 sg. ; fire kindled by friction by boy and girl or by man 
and woman, 236-238 ; human fire-makers sometimes married, sometimes 
unmarried, 238-240; holy fire and virgins of St. Brigit in Ireland, 
240-242 ; the oaks of Erin, 242 sg. ; virgin priestesses of fire in 
ancient Peru and Mexico, 243-246 ; the Agnihotris or fire-priests of the 
Brahmans, 246-248; kinds of wood employed for fire -sticks in India 
and ancient Greece, 248-252. 


PETUAL FIRES . . . .Pp. 253-265 

Custom of perpetual fires probably originated in motives of convenience, 253 ; 
races reported to be ignorant of the means of making fire, 253^55 ; fire 
probably used by men before they knew how to kindle it, 255-257 ; 
savages carry fire with them as a matter of convenience, 257-259 ; 
Prometheus the fire-bringer, 260 ; perpetual fires maintained by chiefs V 
and kings, 260-264 5 fi fe extinguished at king's death, 265. 



The sacred functions of Latin kings in general probably the same as those of the 
Roman kings, 266-268 ; question of the rule of succession to the Latin 
kingship, 268 ; list of Alban kings, 268 sq. ; list of Roman kings, 
269 sq. ; Latin kingship apparently transmitted in female line to foreign 
husbands of princesses, 271 ; miraculous births of kings explained on 
this hypothesis, 272-274 ; marriage of princesses to men of inferior rank 
in Africa, 274-277 ; traces of female descent of kingship in Greece, 
277-279, and in Scandinavia, 279 sq. ; reminiscence of such descent in 
popular tales, 280 ; female descent of kingship among the Picts, the 
Lydians, the Danes, and the Saxons, 280-283 ; traces of female kinship 
or mother-kin among the Aryans, the Picts, and the Etruscans, 283-287 ; 
mother-kin may survive in royal families after it has been superseded by 
father-kin among commoners, 288 ; the Roman kings plebeians, not 
patricians, 289 ; the first consuls at Rome heirs to the throne according 
to mother-kin, 290 sq. ; attempt of Tarquin to change the line of suc- 
cession from the female to the male line, 291 sq. ; the hereditary principle 
compatible with the elective principle in succession to the throne, 292 ; 
combination of the hereditary with the elective principle in succession to 
the kingship in Africa and Assam, 292-295 ; similar combination perhaps 
in force at Rome, 295 sq. ; personal qualities required in kings and 
chiefs, 296-299 ; succession to the throne determined by a race, 299-301 ; 
custom of racing for a bride, 301-305 ; contests for a bride other than 
a race, 305-308 ; the Flight of the King (Rcgifugium) at Rome perhaps 
a relic of a contest for the kingdom and the hand of a princess, 308-310 ; 
confirmation of this theory from the practice of killing a human repre- 
sentative of Saturn at the Saturnalia, 310-312; violent ends of Roman 
kings, 313; death of Romulus on the Nonae Caprotinae (7th July), an 
old licentious festival like the Saturnalia for the fertilisation of the fig, 
313-319; violent deaths of other Roman kings, 320 sq. ; succession to 
Latin kingship perhaps decided by single combat, 321 ; African parallels, 
321 sq. ; Greek and Italian kings may have personated Cronus and Saturn 
before they personated Zeus and Jupiter, 322 sq. 



PARILIA Pp. 324-348 

The early Italians a pastoral as well as agricultural people, 324 sq. ; the 
shepherds' festival of the Parilia on 2ist April, 325-330; intention of 
the festival to ensure the welfare of the flocks and herds and to guard 
them against witches and wolves, 330 ; festival of the same kind still 
held in Eastern Europe on 23rd April, St. George's Day, 330 ; precau- 
tions taken by the Esthonians against witches and wolves on St. George's 
Day, when they drive out the cattle to pasture for the first time, 330-332 ; 
St. George's Day a pastoral festival in Russia, 332-334, among the 
Ruthenians, 335, among the Huzuls of the Carpathians, 335 sq. ; St. 
George as the patron of horses in Silesia and Bavaria, 336 sq. ; St. 
George's Day among the Saxons and Roumanians of Transylvania, 
337 * 5 St. George's Day a herdsman's festival among the Walachians, 
Bulgarians, and South Slavs, 338-340 ; precautions taken against witches 
and wolves whenever the cattle are driven out to pasture for the first 
time, as in Prussia and Sweden, 340-342 ; these parallels illustrate some 
features of the Parilia, 342 sq. ; St. George as a personification of trees 
or vegetation in general, 343 sq. ; St. George as patron of childbirth and 
love, 344-346 ; St. George seems to have displaced an old Aryan god of 
the spring, such as the Lithuanian Pergrubius, 347 sq. 


{ I. Tht Diffusion of the Oak in Europe, pp. 349-356. Jupiter the god 
of the oak, the sky, and thunder, 349 ; of these attributes the oak is 
probably primary and the sky and thunder secondary, 349 sq. ; Europe 
covered with oak forests in prehistoric times, 350 ; remains of oaks found 
in peat-bogs, 350-352 ; ancient lake dwellings built on oaken piles, 
352 sq. ; evidence of classical writers as to oak forests in antiquity, 
353-355 ; oak-woods in modern Europe, 355 sq. 

8 2. The Aryan God of the Oak and the Thunder, pp. 356-375. Aryan worship 
of the oak and of the god of the oak, 357 sq. ; Zeus as the god of the oak, 
the thunder, and the rain in ancient Greece, 358-361 ; Jupiter as the god 
of the oak, the thunder, and the rain in ancient Italy, 361 sq. ; Celtic 
worship of the oak, 362 sq. ; Donar and Thor the Teutonic gods of the 
oak and thunder, 363-365 ; Perun the god of the oak and thunder among 
the Slavs, 365 ; Perkunas the god of the oak and thunder among the 
Lithuanians, 365-367 ; Taara the god of the oak and thunder among 
the Esthonians, 367 sq. ; Parjanya, the old Indian god of thunder, rain, 
and fertility, 368 sq. ; gods of thunder and rain in America, Africa, and 
the Caucasus, 369 sq. ; traces of the worship of the oak in modern Europe, 
370-372 ; in the great European god of the oak, the thunder, add the 
rain, the original element seems to have been the oak, 372-375. 



Recapitulation : rise of sacred kings endowed with magical or divine powers, 
376-378 ; the King of the Wood at Nemi seems to have personified 
Jupiter the god of the oak and to have mated with Diana the goddess 
of the oak, 378-380 ; Dianus (Janus) and Diana originally dialectically 
different forms of Jupiter and Juno, 380-383 ; Janus (Dianus) not originally 
a god of doors, 383 sq. ; double-headed figure of Janus (Dianus) derived 
from a custom of placing him as sentinel at doorways, 384 ; parallel 
custom among the negroes of Surinam, 384 sq. ; originally the King of 
the Wood at Nemi represented Dianus (Janus), a duplicate form of Jupiter, 
the god of the oak, the thunder, and the sky, 385-387. 

INDEX . . . . . . .Pp. 389-417 



THE preceding investigation has proved that the same Dep art- 
union of sacred functions with a royal title which meets us mental 
in the King of the Wood at Nemi, the Sacrificial King at nature, 
Rome, and the magistrate called the King at Athens, occurs 
frequently outside the limits of classical antiquity and is 
a common feature of societies at all stages from barbarism 
to civilisation. Further, it appears that the royal priest is 
often a king, not only in name but irr fact, swaying the 
sceptre as well as the crosier. All this confirms the 
traditional view of the origin of the titular and priestly 
kings in the republics of ancient Greece and Italy. At 
least by shewing that the combination of spiritual and 
temporal power, of which Graeco-Italian tradition preserved 
the memory, has actually existed in many places, we have 
obviated any suspicion of improbability that might have 
attached to the tradition. Therefore we may now fairly 
ask, May not the King of the Wood have had an origin like 
that which a probable tradition assigns to the Sacrificial 
King of Rome and the titular King of Athens ? In other 
words, may not his predecessors in office have been a line of 
kings whom a republican revolution stripped of their political 
power, leaving them only their religious functions and the 
shadow of a crown ? There are at least two reasons for 
answering this question in the negative. One reason is 
drawn from the abode of the priest of Nemi ; the other from 
his title, the King of the Wood. If his predecessors had 
been kings in the ordinary sense, he would surely have been 
found residing, like the fallen kings of Rome and Athens, in 

VOL. II & B 


the city of which the sceptre had passed from him. This 
city must have been Aricia, for there was none nearer. But 
Aricia was three miles off from his forest sanctuary by the 
lake shore. If he reigned, it was not in the. city, but in the 
greenwood. Again his title, King of the Wood, hardly 
allows us to suppose that he had ever been a king in the 
common sense of the word. More likely he was a king of 
nature, and of a special side of nature, namely, the woods 
from which he took his title. If we could find instances of 
what we may call departmental kings of nature, that is of 
persons supposed to rule over particular elements or aspects 
of nature, they would probably present a closer analogy to the 
King of the Wood than the divine kings we have been hitherto 
considering, whose control of nature is general rather than 
special. Instances of such departmental kings are not wanting. 
Kings of On a hill at Bomma near the mouth of the Congo dwells 

Africa 3 Namvulu Vumu, King of the Rain and Storm. 1 Of some 
of the tribes on the Upper Nile we are told that they have 
no kings in the common sense ; the only persons whom they 
acknowledge as such are the Kings of the Rain, Mata Kodou, 
who are credited with the power of giving rain at the proper 
time, that is in the rainy season. Before the rains begin 
to fall at the end of March the country is a parched and 
arid desert ; and the cattle, which form the people's chiet 
wealth, perish for lack of grass. So, when the end of March 
draws on, each householder betakes himself to the King of 
the Rain and offers him a cow that he may make the blessed 
waters of heaven to drip on the brown and withered pastures. 
If no shower falls, the people assemble and demand that the 
king shall give them rain ; and if the sky still continues cloud- 
less, they rip up his belly, in which he is believed to keep the 
storms. Amongst the Bari tribe one of these Rain Kings made 
rain by sprinkling water on the ground out of a handbell. 2 

Among tribes on the outskirts of Abyssinia a similar 
office exists and has been thus described by an observer. 

1 A. Bastian, Die deutsche Expe- 421-423; ib. viii. (1854) pp. 387 sq. ; 
dition an der Loango-Kuste, ii. 230. Brun-Rollet, Le Nil Blanc et le Soudan 

2 "Excursion de M. Brun-Rollet (Paris, 1855), pp. 227 sqq. As to the 
dans la region sup^rieure du Nil," rain-making chiefs of this region see 
Bulletin de la Sotittt de Gtographie above, vol. i. pp. 345 sqq. As to the 
(Paris), IVme Se>ie, iv. (1852) pp. distress and privations endured by these 


" The priesthood of the Alfai, as he is called by the Barea Priesthood 

of the 

and Kunama, is a remarkable one ; he is believed to be able of the 

to make rain. This office formerly existed among the 
Algeds and appears to be still common to the Nuba negroes. 
The Alfai of the Barea, who is also consulted by the 
northern Kunama, lives near Tembadere on a mountain 
alone with his family. The people bring him tribute in the 
form of clothes and fruits, and cultivate for him a large field 
of his own. He is a kind of king, and his office passes by 
inheritance to his brother or sister's son. He is supposed to 
conjure down rain and to drive away the locusts. But if he 
disappoints the people's expectation and a great drought 
arises in the land, the Alfai is stoned to death, and his 
nearest relations are obliged to cast the first stone at him. 
When we passed through the country, the office of Alfai was 
still held by an old man ; but I heard that rain-making had 
proved too dangerous for him and that he had renounced 
his office." 1 

In the backwoods of Cambodia live two mysterious Kings of 
sovereigns known as the King of the Fire and the King of^ rean . d 
the Water. Their fame is spread all over the south of the Cambodia, 
great Indo-Chinese peninsula ; but only a faint echo of it 
has reached the West. Down to a few years ago no Euro- 
pean, so far as is known, had ever seen either of them ; 
and their very existence might have passed for a fable, were 
it not that till lately communications were regularly main- 
tained between them and the King of Cambodia, who year 
by year exchanged presents with them. The Cambodian 
gifts were passed from tribe to tribe till they reached their 
destination ; for no Cambodian would essay the long and 
perilous journey. The tribe amongst whom the Kings of 
Fire and Water reside is the Chre"ais or Jaray, a race with 
European features but a sallow complexion, inhabiting the 
forest-clad mountains and high tablelands which separate 
Cambodia from Annam. Their royal functions are of a 
purely mystic or spiritual order ; they have no political 
authority ; they are simple peasants, living by the sweat of 

people in the dry season, see E. de Erganzungsheft No. 50 (Gotha, 1877), 

Pruyssenaere, "ReisenundForschungen p. 23. 

im Gebiete des Weissen und Blauen l W. Munzinger, Ostafrikanische 

Nil," Pelermann" 1 s Mittheilutigen, Studien (Schaffhausen, 1864), p. 474. 


Kings of their brow and the offerings of the faithful. According to 
Fire and one accoun t they live in absolute solitude, never meeting 
Ounbodia. each other and never seeing a human face. They inhabit 
successively seven towers perched upon seven .mountains, 
and every year they pass from one tower to another. 
People come furtively and cast within their reach what is 
needful for their subsistence. The kingship lasts seven 
years, the time necessary to inhabit all the towers succes- 
sively ; but many die before their time is out. The offices 
are hereditary in one or (according to others) two royal 
families, who enjoy high consideration, have revenues 
assigned to them, and are exempt from the necessity of 
tilling the ground. But naturally the dignity is not coveted, 
and when a vacancy occurs, all eligible men (they must be 
strong and have children) flee and hide themselves. Another 
account, admitting the reluctance of the hereditary candidates 
to accept the crown, does not countenance the report of 
their hermit - like seclusion in the seven towers. For it 
represents the people as prostrating themselves before the 
mystic kings whenever they appear in public, it being 
thought that a terrible hurricane would burst over the 
country if this mark of homage were omitted. Probably, 
however, these are mere fables such as commonly shed a 
glamour of romance over the distant and unknown. A 
French officer, who had an interview with the redoubtable 
Fire King in February 1891, found him stretched on a 
bamboo couch, diligently smoking a long copper pipe, and 
surrounded by people who paid him no great deference. In 
spite of his mystic vocation the sorcerer had no charm or 
talisman about him, and was in no way distinguishable from 
his fellows except by his tall stature. Another writer reports 
that the two kings are much feared, because they are supposed 
to possess the evil eye ; hence every one avoids them, and the 
potentates considerately cough to announce their approach 
and to allow people to get out of their way. They enjoy 
extraordinary privileges and immunities, but their authority 
does not extend beyond the few villages of their neighbour- 
hood. Like many other sacred kings, of whom we shall 
read in the sequel, the Kings of Fire and Water are not 
allowed to die a natural death, for that would lower their 


reputation. Accordingly when one of them is seriously ill, 
the elders hold a consultation and if they think he cannot 
recover they stab him to death. His body is burned and 
the ashes are piously collected and publicly honoured for 
five years. Part of them is given to the widow, and she 
keeps them in an urn, which she must carry on her back 
when she goes to weep on her husband's grave. 

We are told that the Fire King, the more important Super- 
of the two, whose supernatural powers have never been natural 

' . . . . powers of 

questioned, officiates at marriages, festivals, and sacrifices in the Kings 
honour of the Yan or spirit. On these occasions a special place water ^ 
is set apart for him ; and the path by which he approaches is 
spread with white cotton cloths. A reason for confining the 
royal dignity to the same family is that this family is in 
possession of certain famous talismans which would lose 
their virtue or disappear if they passed out of the family. 
These talismans are three : the fruit of a creeper called Cut, 
gathered ages ago at the time of the last deluge, but still 
fresh and green ; a rattan, also very old but bearing flowers 
that never fade ; and lastly, a sword containing a Yan or 
spirit, who guards it constantly and works miracles with it. 
The spirit is said to be that of a slave, whose blood chanced 
to fall upon the blade while it was being forged, and who died 
a voluntary death to expiate his involuntary offence. By 
means of the two former talismans the Water King can raise 
a flood that would drown the whole earth. If the Fire King 
draws the magic sword a few inches from its sheath, the sun 
is hidden and men and beasts fall into a profound sleep ; 
were he to draw it quite out of the scabbard, the world 
would come to an end. To this wondrous brand sacrifices 
of buffaloes, pigs, fowls, and ducks are offered for rain. It 
is kept swathed in cotton and silk ; and amongst the annual 
presents sent by the King of Cambodia were rich stuffs to 
wrap the sacred sword. 

In return the Kings of Fire and Water sent him a Gifts sent 
huge wax candle and two calabashes, one full of rice and ^.^ of 
the other of sesame. The candle bore the impress of the Fire and 
Fire King's middle finger, and was probably thought to ^f^g 
contain the seed of fire, which the Cambodian monarch of Cam- 
thus received once a year fresh from the Fire King himself 


Kings of This holy candle was kept for sacred uses. On reaching the 
Fire and ca pjt a l of Cambodia it was entrusted to the Brahmans, who 
Cambodia, laid it up beside the regalia, and with the wax made tapers 
which were burned on the altars on solemn days. As the 
candle was the special gift of the Fire King, we may con- 
jecture that the rice and sesame were the special gift of 
the Water King. The latter was doubtless king of rain as 
well as of water, and the fruits of the earth were boons con- 
ferred by him on men. In times of calamity, as during 
plague, floods, and war, a little of this sacred rice and sesame 
was scattered on the ground " to appease the wrath of the 
maleficent spirits." Contrary to the common usage of the 
country, which is to bury the dead, the bodies of both these 
mystic monarchs are burnt, but their nails and some of their 
teeth and bones are religiously preserved as amulets. It is 
while the corpse is being consumed on the pyre that the 
kinsmen of the deceased magician flee to the forest and hide 
themselves for fear of being elevated to the invidious dignity 
which he has just vacated. The people go and search for 
them, and the first whose lurking place they discover is 
made King of Fire or Water. 1 

These, then, are examples of what I have called depart- 
mental kings of nature. But it is a far cry to Italy from 
the forests of Cambodia and the sources of the Nile. And 
though Kings of Rain, Water, and Fire have been found, we 
have still to discover a King of the Wood to match the 
Arician priest who bore that title. Perhaps we shall find 
him nearer home. 

1 Mgr. Cue"not, in Annales de la populations sauvages du Sud de 1'An- 

Propagation de la Foi, xiii. (1841) p. nam," Tour du monde, No. 1682, 

'43? H. Mouhot, Travels in the April i, 1893, PP- 193-204; id., in 

Central Parts of Indo-China (London, Mission Pavie, Indo-Chine 1879-1895, 

1864), ii. 35; A. Bastian, " Beitrage Geographie et voyages, iii. (Paris, 1900) 

zur Kenntniss der Gebirgsstamme in pp. 297-318 ; Tournier, Notice sur le 

Kambodia," Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft Laos Franc ais (Hanoi, 1900), pp. in 

fur Erdkunde zu Berlin, i. (1866) sq. ; A. Lavallee, "Notes ethno- 

P- 37 5 J- Moura, Le Royaumt du graphiques sur diverses tribus du Sud- 

Cambodge (Paris, 1883), i. 432-436 ; Est de 1'Inde-Chine," Bulletin de 

E. Aytnonier, " Notes sur les coutumes rcole Franfaise d' Extreme Orient, 

: croyances superstitieuses des Cam- i. (Hanoi, 1901) pp. 303 sq. Mgr. 

bodgiens," in Cochinchine Franfaise: Cudnot mentions only the King of 

Excursions et reconnaissances, No. Fire. Bastian speaks as if the Kin" 

(Saigon, 1883), pp. 172 sq. ; id., of Fire was also the King of Water! 

Notes sur le Laos (Saigon, 1885), P- Both writers report at second hand. 
60; Le Capitaine Cupet, "Chez les 



I. Tree-spirits 

IN the religious history of the Aryan race in Europe the 
worship of trees has played an important part. Nothing 
could be more natural. For at the dawn of history Europe Great 
was covered with immense primaeval forests, in which the fore . sts of 

r ancient 

scattered clearings must have appeared like islets in an Europe, 
ocean of green. Down to the first century before our era 
the Hercynian forest stretched eastward from the Rhine for 
a distance at once vast and unknown ; Germans whom 
Caesar questioned had travelled for two months through it 
without reaching the end. 1 Four centuries later it was 
visited by the Emperor Julian, and the solitude, the gloom, 
the silence of the forest appear to have made a deep impres- 
sion on his sensitive nature. He declared that he knew 
nothing like it in the Roman empire. 2 In our own country 
the wealds of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex are remnants of the 
great forest of Anderida, which once clothed the whole of 
the south-eastern portion of the island. Westward it seems 
to have stretched till it joined another forest that extended 
from Hampshire to Devon. In the reign of Henry II. the 
citizens of London still hunted the wild bull and the boar in 
the woods of Hampstead. Even under the later Plantagenets 
the royal forests were sixty-eight in number. In the forest 
of Arden it was said that down to modern times a squirrel 
might leap from tree to tree for nearly the whole length of 

1 Caesar, Bell. Gall. vi. 25. pp. 608 sq. On the vast woods of 

Germany, their coolness and shade, 

2 Julian, Fragm. 4, ed. Hertlein, see also Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 5. 



Great Warwickshire. 1 The excavation of ancient pile-villages in 
forests of tne valley of the Po has shewn that long before the rise 
Europe, and probably the foundation of Rome the north of Italy was 
covered with dense woods of elms, chestnuts, and especially 
of oaks. 2 Archaeology is here confirmed by history ; for 
classical writers contain many references to Italian forests 
which have now disappeared. 8 As late as the fourth century 
before our era Rome was divided from central Etruria by 
the dreaded Ciminian forest, which Livy compares to the 
woods of Germany. No merchant, if we may trust the 
Roman historian, had ever penetrated its pathless solitudes : 
and it was deemed a most daring feat when a Roman 
general, after sending two scouts to explore its intricacies, 
led his army into the forest and, making his way to a 
ridge of the wooded mountains, looked down on the rich 
Etrurian fields spread out below. 4 In Greece beautiful 
woods of pine, oak, and other trees still linger on the slopes 
of the high Arcadian mountains, still adorn with their 
verdure the deep gorge through which the Ladon hurries 
to join the sacred Alpheus ; and were still, down to a few 
years ago, mirrored in the dark blue waters of the lonely 
lake of Pheneus ; but they are mere fragments of the forests 
which clothed great tracts in antiquity, and which at a more 
remote epoch may have spanned the Greek peninsula from 
sea to sea. 5 

From an examination of the Teutonic words for " temple " 
Grimm has made it probable that amongst the Germans the 

1 Ch. Elton, Origins of English land (Breslau, 1885), pp. 357 sqq. I 

History (London, 1882), pp. 3, 106 am told that the dark blue waters of 

Sf., 224. the lake of Pheneus, which still re- 

1 W. Helbig, Die Italiker in der fleeted the sombre pine-forests of the 

Poebene (Leipsic, 1879), pp. 25 sq. surrounding mountains when I travelled 

H. Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, in Arcadia in r the bri ^ t <rgetable 

i. (Berlin, 1883) pp. 431 SQQ. autumn da y s of l8 95> have since dis- 

4 T . . o * . . . appeared, the subterranean chasms 

.ivy, ix 36-38. The Ciminian which drain this basin hayi b 

itams (Monte Cimtno) are still whether acc i denta ll y or artificially: 

othed with dense woods of majestic cleared so M to allow the * 

and chestnuts. Modern writers waters to . The acres P whic 

.uppose that Lwy has exaggerated the the nts JJ^ thereb added 

terrors and difficulties of the forest. thei / fields will hardl c j sole future 

%&3frSX" travellers ft the loss of ^ water ^ 

mirror, which was one of the most 

Neumann und J. Partsch, beautiful, as it was one of the rarest, 
Physikalische Geographic von Grief Aen- scenes in the parched land of Greece. 


oldest sanctuaries were natural woods. 1 However this may Tree- 
be, tree-worship is well attested for all the great European w r ^ 
families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak- by ail the 
worship of the Druids is familiar to every one, 2 and their old ^^ Q 
word for a sanctuary seems to be identical in origin and Europe, 
meaning with the Latin nemus, a grove or woodland glade, 
which still survives in the name of Nemi. 3 Sacred groves 
were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship 
is hardly extinct amongst their descendants at the present 
day. 4 How serious that worship was in former times may 
be gathered from the ferocious penalty appointed by the old 
German laws for such as dared to peel the bark of a 
standing tree. The culprit's navel was to be cut out and 
nailed to the part of the tree which he had peeled, and he 
was to be driven round and round the tree till all his guts 
were wound about its trunk. 5 The intention of the punish- 
ment clearly was to replace the dead bark by a living 
substitute taken from the culprit ; it was a life for a life, the 
life of a man for the life of a tree. At Upsala, the old 
religious capital of Sweden, there was a sacred grove in 
which every tree was regarded as divine. 6 The heathen 
Slavs worshipped trees and groves. 7 The Lithuanians were 
not converted to Christianity till towards the close of the 
fourteenth century, and amongst them at the date of their 
conversion the worship of trees was prominent. Some of 
them revered remarkable oaks and other great shady trees, 
from which they received oracular responses. Some main- 
tained holy groves about their villages or houses, where even 
to break a twig would have been a sin. They thought that 
he who cut a bough in such a grove either died suddenly or 
was crippled in one of his limbs. 8 Proofs of the prevalence 

1 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie* Volkeskunde des Konigreichs Bayem, 
\. 53 sqq. ; O. Schrader, Keallexikon iii. 929 sq. 

der indo-germanischen Aliertumskundc 6 J. Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalterthii- 

(Strasburg, 1901), s.v. " Tempel," mer, pp. 519 sq. ; W. Mannhardt, 

pp. 855 sqq. Baumkultus (Berlin, 1875), PP- 26sqg. 

2 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 249 sqq. ; * Adam of Bremen, Descriptio insit- 
Maximus Tyrius, Dissert, viii. 8. /arum Aquilonis, 27 (Migne's Patro- 

3 O. Schrader, op. cit. pp. 857 sq. logia Latina, vol. cxlvi. col. 644). 

4 Tacitus, Germania, 9, 39, 40, 43; 7 L. Leger, La Mythologie slave 
id., Annals, ii. 12, iv. 73; id., Hist. iv. (Paris, 1901), pp. 73*75, 188-190. 
14; J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,^ 8 Mathias Michov, " De Sarmatia 
pp. 541 sqq.; Bavaria Landes- wnl Asiana atque Europea," in Simon 


of tree-worship in ancient Greece and Italy are abundant. 1 
In the sanctuary of Aesculapius at Cos, for example, it was 
forbidden to cut down the cypress-trees under a penalty of a 
thousand drachms. 2 But nowhere, perhaps, in the ancient 
world was this antique form of religion better preserved than 
in the heart of the great metropolis itself. In the Forum, 
the busy centre of Roman life, the sacred fig-tree of Romulus 
was worshipped down to the days of the empire, and the 
withering of its trunk was enough to spread consternation 
through the city. 3 Again, on the slope of the Palatine Hill 
grew a cornel-tree which was esteemed one of the most sacred 
objects in Rome. Whenever the tree appeared to a passer- 
by to be drooping, he set up a hue and cry which was 
echoed by the people in the street, and soon a crowd might 
be seen running helter-skelter from all sides with buckets of 
water, as if (says Plutarch) they were hastening to put out 
a fire. 4 
Tree - Among the tribes of the Finnish-Ugrian stock in Europe 

worship 111 i r t r 

among the the heathen worship was performed for the most part in 
Finnish- sacred groves, which were always enclosed with a fence, 
peoples. Such a grove often consisted merely of a glade or clearing 
with a few trees dotted about, upon which in former times 
the skins of the sacrificial victims were hung. The central 
point of the grove, at least among the tribes of the Volga, 
was the sacred tree, beside which everything else sank into 
insignificance. Before it the worshippers assembled and the 
priest offered his prayers, at its roots the victim was sacri- 
ficed, and its boughs sometimes served as a pulpit. No 
wood might be hewn and no branch broken in the grove, 
and women were generally forbidden to enter it. The 

Grynaeus's Novus Orbis regionum ac p. 331, referring to an inscription found 

insularum veteribus incognitarum in Cos some years ago. 
(Paris, 1532), pp. 455 sq. [wrongly 3 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xv. 77 ; Tacitus, 

numbered 445, 446] ; Martin Cromer, Ann. xiii. 58. The fig-tree is repre- 

De origine et rebus gtstis Polonorum sented on Roman coins and on the 

(Basel, 1568), p. 241 ; Fabricius, great marble reliefs which stand in the 

Livonicae kistoriae compendiosa series Forum. See E. Babelon, Monnaiesde 

(Scriptores rerum Livonuarum, ii. la Republique romaine, ii. 336 sq 

(Riga and Leipsic, 1848) p. 441). R. Lanciani, Ruins and .Excavations 

See C. Botticher, Der Baumkultus of Ancient fame (London, 1897) p 

der Hellenen( Berlin, 1 856) ; L. Preller, 258; E. Petersen, Vom alien Rom 

Ronnsche Mythologie? i. 105-114. (Leipsic, 1900), pp. 26, 27. 
* The Classical Review, xix. (1905) * Plutarch, Romulus, 20. 


Ostyaks and Woguls, two peoples of the Finnish-Ugrian 
stock in Siberia, had also sacred groves in which nothing 
might be touched, and where the skins of the sacrificed 
animals were suspended ; but these groves were not enclosed 
with fences. 1 Near Kuopio, in Finland, there was a famous 
grove of ancient moss-grown firs, where the people offered 
sacrifices and practised superstitious customs down to about 
1650, when a sturdy veteran of the Thirty Years' War 
dared to cut it down at the bidding of the pastor. Sacred 
groves now hardly exist in Finland, but sacred trees to 
which offerings are brought are still not very uncommon. 
On some firs the skulls of bears are nailed, apparently that 
the hunter may have good luck in the chase. 2 The Ostyaks 
are said never to have passed a sacred tree without shooting 
an arrow at it as a mark of respect. In many places they hung 
furs and skins on the holy trees in the forest ; but having 
observed that these furs were often appropriated and carried 
off by unscrupulous travellers, they adopted the practice of 
hewing the trunks into great blocks, which they decked with 
their offerings and preserved in safe places. The custom 
marks a transition from the worship of trees to the worship 
of idols carved out of the sacred wood. Within their sacred 
groves no grass or wood might be cut, no game hunted, no 
fish caught, not even a draught of water drunk. When 
they passed them in their canoes, they were careful not to 
touch the land with the oar, and if the journey through the 
hallowed ground was long, they laid in a store of water 
before entering on it, for they would rather suffer extreme 
thirst than slake it by drinking of the sacred stream. The 
Ostyaks also regarded as holy any tree on which an eagle 
had built its nest for several years, and they spared the bird 
as well as the tree. No greater injury could be done them 
than to shoot such an eagle or destroy its nest. 3 

But it is necessary to examine in some detail the notions 

1 K. Rhamm, " Der heidnische Got- 2 " Heilige Haine und Baume der 

tesdienst des finnischen Stammes," Finnen," Globus> lix. (1891) pp. 350 

Globus, Ixvii. (1895) pp. 343, 348. sq. 

This article is an abstract of a Finnish a P. S. Pallas, Reise durch verschie- 

book Suomen sitvun pakanillintn ju- dene Prowinzen des russischen Reichs 

malen falvelus, by J. Krohn (Helsing- (St. Petersburg, 1771-1776), iii. 60 

fors, 1894). sq. 


Trees are on which the worship of trees and plants is based. To the 
regarded sav age the world in general is animate, and trees and plants are 
savage as no exception to the rule. He thinks that they have souls like 
animate, ^is own, and he treats them accordingly. " They say," writes 
the ancient vegetarian Porphyry, " that primitive men led an 
unhappy life, for their superstition did not stop at animals 
but extended even to plants. For why should the slaughter 
of an ox or a sheep be a greater wrong than the felling of a 
fir or an oak, seeing that a soul is implanted in these trees 
also ? " l Similarly, the Hidatsa Indians of North America 
believe that every natural object has its spirit, or to speak 
more properly, its shade. To these shades some considera- 
tion or respect is due, but not equally to all. For example, 
the shade of the cottonwood, the greatest tree in the valley 
of the Upper Missouri, is supposed to possess an intelligence 
which, if properly approached, may help the Indians in 
certain undertakings ; but the shades of shrubs and grasses 
are of little account. When the Missouri, swollen by a 
freshet in spring, carries away part of its banks and sweeps 
some tall tree into its current, it is said that the spirit of the 
tree cries while the roots still cling to the land and until the 
trunk falls with a splash into the stream. Formerly the 
Indians considered it wrong to fell one of these giants, and 
when large logs were needed they made use only of trees 
which had fallen of themselves. Till lately some of the more 
credulous old men declared that many of the misfortunes of 
their people were caused by this modern disregard for the 
rights of the living cottonwood. 2 The Iroquois believed 
that each species of tree, shrub, plant, and herb had its own 
spirit, and to these spirits 11 it was their custom to return 
thanks. 3 The Wanika of Eastern Africa fancy that every 
tree, and especially every coco-nut tree, has its spirit ; 
" the destruction of a cocoa-nut tree is regarded as equivalent 
to matricide, because that tree gives them life and nourish- 
ment, as a mother does her child." 4 In the Yasawu islands 

1 Porphyry, DC abstinentia, i. 6. 3 L. H. Morgan, League of the fro- 

This was an opinion of the Stoic and quois (Rochester, 1851), pp. 162, 164. 

Peripatetic philosophy. * J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researches, 

Washington Matthews, Ethno- and Missionary Labours during an 

grapy and Philology of the Hidatsa Eighteen Years' Residence in Eastern 

Indians ( Washington, 1877), pp. 48 sq. Africa (London, 1 860), p. 198. 


of Fiji a man will never eat a coco-nut without first asking Trees 
its leave "May I eat you, my chief?" 1 Among the regarded 
Thompson Indians of British Columbia young people ad- savage as 
dressed the following prayer to the sunflower root before animate - 
they ate the first roots of the season : " I inform thee that 
I intend to eat thee. Mayest thou always help me to 
ascend, so that I may always be able to reach the tops of 
mountains, and may I never be clumsy ! I ask this from 
thee, Sunflower-Root. Thou art the greatest of all in 
mystery." To omit this prayer would have made the eater 
of the root lazy, and caused him to sleep long in the morn- 
ing. We are not told, but may conjecture, that these 
Indians ascribed to the sunflower the sun's power of climbing 
above the mountain-tops and of rising betimes in the 
morning ; hence whoever ate of the plant, with all the due 
formalities, would naturally acquire the same useful pro- 
perties. It is not so easy to say why women had to observe 
continence in cooking and digging the root, and why, when 
they were cooking it, no man might come near the oven. 2 
The Dyaks ascribe souls to trees, and do not dare to cut 
down an old tree. In some places, when an old tree has 
been blown down, they set it up, smear it with blood, and 
deck it with flags " to appease the soul of the tree." 3 
Siamese monks, believing that there are souls everywhere, 
and that to destroy anything whatever is forcibly to dis- 
possess a soul, will not break a branch of a tree, " as they 
will not break the arm of an innocent person." 4 These 
monks, of course, are Buddhists. But Buddhist animism is 
not a philosophical theory. It is simply a common savage 
dogma incorporated in the system of an historical religion. 
To suppose with Benfey and others that the theories of 
animism and transmigration current among rude peoples of 
Asia are derived from Buddhism, is to reverse the facts. 

1 Rev. Lorimer Fison, in a letter 3 C. Hupe, "Over de godsdienst, 
to the author dated November 3, zeden enz. der Dajakkers," Tijdschrift 
1898. voor NeMands Indie, 1846 (Batavia), 

dl. iii. p. 158. 

2 J. Teit, " The Thompson Indians * De la Loubere, Dit royaume 
of British Columbia," p. 349 (Memoir de Siam (Amsterdam, 1691), i. 382. 
of the American Museum of Natural Compare Mgr Bruguiere, in Annales 
History, The Jesup North Pacific Ex- de I' Association de la Propagation de 
f edition, vol. i. part iv.). la Foi, v. (1831) p. 127. 


Buddhism in this respect borrowed from savagery, not 
savagery from Buddhism. 1 According to Chinese belief, the 
spirits of plants are never shaped like plants but have 
commonly the form either of human beings or of animals, 
for example bulls and serpents. Occasionally at the felling 
of a tree the tree-spirit has been seen to rush out in the 
shape of a blue bull. 2 In China "to this day the belief 
in tree-spirits dangerous to man is obviously strong. In 
southern Fuhkien it deters people from felling any large 
trees or chopping off heavy branches, for fear the indwelling 
spirit may become irritated and visit the aggressor or his 
neighbours with disease and calamity. Especially respected 
are the green banyan or citing, the biggest trees to be found 
in that part of China. In Amoy some people even show a 
strong aversion from planting trees, the planters, as soon as 
the stems have become as thick as their necks, being sure to 
be throttled by the indwelling spirits. No explanation of 
this curious superstition was ever given us. It may account 
to some extent for the almost total neglect of forestry in that 
part of China, so that hardly any except spontaneous trees 
grow there."* 

Sometimes it is only particular sorts of trees that are 
supposed to be tenanted by spirits. At Grbalj in Dalmatia 
it is said that among great beeches, oaks, and other trees 
there arc some that are endowed with shades or souls, and 
whoever fells one of them must die on the spot, or at least 
live an invalid for the rest of his days. If a woodman fears 
that a tree which he has felled is one of this sort, he must 
cut off the head of a live hen on the stump of the tree with 
the very same axe with which he cut down the tree. This 
will protect him from all harm, even if the tree be one of 
Silk-cotton the animated kind. 4 The silk-cotton trees, which rear their 
enormous trunks to a stupendous height,-far out-topping all 
the other trees of the forest, are regarded with reverence 

1 The Buddhist conception of trees System of China, iv. (Leyden, 1901) 

as animated often comes out in the pp. 272 sqq. 

Jatakas. For examples see H. Olden- 3 J. J. M. de Groot, The Religious 

berg, Die Religion des Veda, pp. 259 System of China, v. (Leyden, 1907) 

sqq. ; The Jataka, bk. xii. No. 465, p. 663. 

vol. iv. pp. 96 sqq. (English transla- * F. S. Krauss, Volksglaule tind 

tion edited by E. B. Cowell). religioser Branch der Siidsla-ven (Mim 

* J. J. M. de Groot, The Religious ster i. W., 1890), p. 33. 


throughout West Africa, from the Senegal to the Niger, and 
are believed to be the abode of a god or spirit. Among the 
Ewe-speaking peoples of the Slave Coast the indwelling god 
of this giant of the forest goes by the name of Huntin. 
Trees in which he specially dwells for it is not every silk- 
cotton tree that he thus honours are surrounded by a 
girdle of palm-leaves ; and sacrifices of fowls, and occasion- 
ally of human beings, are fastened to the trunk or laid 
against the foot of the tree. A tree distinguished by a 
girdle of palm-leaves may not be cut down or injured in 
any way ; and even silk-cotton trees which are not supposed 
to be animated by Huntin may not be felled unless the 
woodman first offers a sacrifice of fowls and palm-oil to 
purge himself of the proposed sacrilege. To omit the 
sacrifice is an offence which may be punished with death. 1 
Everywhere in Egypt on the borders of the cultivated land, Sycamores 
and even at some distance from the valley of the Nile, you an " er 
meet with fine sycamores standing solitary and thriving as 
by a miracle in the sandy soil ; their living green contrasts 
strongly with the tawny hue of the surrounding landscape, 
and their thick impenetrable foliage bids defiance even in 
summer to the noonday sun. The secret of their verdure is 
that their roots strike down into rills of water that trickle 
by unseen sluices from the great river. Of old the Egyptians 
of every rank esteemed these trees divine, and paid them 
regular homage. They gave them figs, raisins, cucumbers, 
vegetables, and water in earthenware pitchers, which chari- 
table folk filled afresh every day. Passers-by slaked their 
thirst at these pitchers in the sultry hours, and paid for the 
welcome draught by a short prayer. The spirit that ani- 
mated these beautiful trees generally lurked unseen, but 
sometimes he would shew his head or even his whole body 
outside the trunk, but only to retire into it again. 2 People 
in Congo set calabashes of palm-wine at the foot of certain 
trees for the trees to drink when they are thirsty. 8 The 

1 A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking z G. Maspero, Histoire andentte des 

Peoples of the Slave Coast (London, peuples de t Orient classique : Us ori- 

1890), pp. 49 sqq. Compare id., The gines (Paris, 1895), pp. 121 sq. 
Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast 3 Merolla, "Voyage to Congo," in 

(London, 1887), pp. 34^^.; Missions Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, xvi. 

Catholiques, ix. (1877) p. 71. 236. 


Wanika of Eastern Africa pay special honour to the spirits 
o f coco-nut palms in return for the many benefits conferred 
n*! on them by the trees. To cut down a coco-nut palm is an 
p'-gonia. inexpiable offence, equivalent to matricide. They sacrifice 
to the tree on many occasions. When a man in gathering 
the coco-nuts has fallen from the palm, they attribute it to 
the wrath of the tree-spirit, and resort to the oddest means 
of appeasing him. 1 The Masai particularly reverence the 
subugo tree, the bark of which has medical properties, and a 
species of parasitic fig which they call retete. The green figs 
are eaten by boys and girls, and older people propitiate 
the tree by pouring the blood of a goat at the foot of the 
trunk and strewing grass on the branches. 2 The natives of 
the Bissagos Islands, off the west coast of Africa, sacrifice 
dogs, cocks, and oxen to their sacred trees, but they eat 
the flesh of the victims and leave only the horns, fastened to 
the trees, for the spirits. 3 In a Turkish village of Northern 
Syria there is a very old oak-tree which the people worship, 
burning incense to it and bringing offerings as they would to 
a shrine. 4 In Patagonia, between the Rio Negro and the 
Rio Colorado, there stands solitary an ancient acacia-tree 
with a gnarled and hollow trunk. The Indians revere it as 
the abode of a spirit, and hang offerings of blankets, ponchos, 
ribbons, and coloured threads on it, so that the tree presents 
the aspect of an old clothes' shop, the tattered, weather-worn 
garments drooping sadly from the boughs. No Indian 
passes it without leaving something, if it be only a little 
horse-hair which he ties to a branch. The hollow trunk 
contains offerings of tobacco, beads, and sometimes coins. 
But the best evidence of the sanctity of the tree are the 
bleached skeletons of many horses which have been killed in 
honour of the spirit ; for the horse is the most precious 
sacrifice that these Indians can offer. They slaughter the 
animal also to propitiate the spirits of the deep and rapid 

1 C. C. von der Decken, Reisen in Protectorate (London, 1902), ii. 

Ost-Afrika (Leipsic and Heidelberg, 832. 

1869-1871), i. 216. The writer does 3 J. B. L. Durand, Voyage au 

not describe the mode of appeasing the Senfgal (Paris, 1802), p. 119. 

tree-spirit in the case mentioned. As to * S. J. Curtiss, Primitive Semitic 

the Wanika beliefs, see above, p. 12. Religion To-day (Chicago, 1902), p. 

1 Sir Harry Johnston, The Uganda 94. 




rivers, which they have often to ford or swim. 1 The Kayans Sacrifices 
of Central Borneo ascribe souls to the trees which yield the to trees - 
poison they use to envenom their arrows. They think that 
the spirit of the tasem tree {Antiaris toxicarid) is particularly 
hard to please ; but if the wood has a strong and agreeable 
scent, they know that the man who felled the tree must have 
contrived by his offerings to mollify the peevish spirit. 2 In 
some of the Louisiade Islands there are certain large trees 
under which the natives hold their feasts. These trees seem 
to be regarded as endowed with souls ; for a portion of the 
feast is set aside for them, and the bones of pigs and of 
human beings are everywhere deeply imbedded in their 
branches. 3 Among the Kangra mountains of the Punjaub a 
girl used to be annually sacrificed to an old cedar-tree, the 
families of the village taking it in turn to supply the victim. 
The tree was cut down not very many years ago. 4 On~~ 
Christmas Eve it is still customary in some parts of Germany / 
to gird fruit-trees with ropes of straw on which the sausages 

prepared for the festival have lain. This is supposed to c . 

make the trees bear fruit. In the Mark of Brandenburg the 
person who ties the straw round the trees says, " Little tree, 
I make you a present, and you will make me one." The 
people say that if the trees receive gifts, they will bestow 
gifts in return. The custom, which is clearly a relic of tree- 
worship, is often observed on New Year's night or at any 
time between Christmas and Twelfth Night. 5 

1 A.d'Orbigny, Voyage dans PAmeri- 
que Mtridionale (Paris and Strasburg, 
1839-1843), ii. 157, 159 JJT. 

2 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, In Centraal- 
Bomeo (Leyden, 1900), i. 146. 

3 H. H. Romilly, from my Veran- 
dah in New Guinea (London, 1889), 
p. 86. 

4 D. C. J. Ibbetson, Outlines of 
Panjab Ethnography (Calcutta, 1883), 
p. 1 20. 

5 W. von Schulenberg, "Volks- 
kundliche Mittheilungen aus der 
Mark," Verhandlungen der Berliner 
Gesellschaft fur Anthropologie, Ethno- 
logie und Urgeschichte (1896), p. 189. 
Compare A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, 
Nord - deutsche Sagen, Marc hen und 
Gebrauche, p. 407, 142 ; E. Meier, 


Deutsche Sagen, Sitten und Gebrauche 
aus Schwaben, p. 463, 208 ; A. Kuhn, 
Sagen, Gebrauche und Mdrchen aus 

Westfalen, ii. pp. 108 sf., 326, 327, 
P- "6, 356, 358; A. Birlinger, 

Volksthumliches aus Schwaben, i. pp. 
464 s<?., 6 ; K. Bartsch, Sagen, 
Mdrchen und Gebrauche aus Meklen- 
burg, ii. 228 sq. ; W. Kolbe, Hessische 

Volks-Sitten und Gebrauche? p. 29 ; R. 
Andree, Braunsch-weiger Volkskunde 
(Brunswick, 1896), p. 234; R. Wuttke, 
Sdchsische Volkskunde^ (Dresden, 1901), 
p. 370. The custom has been dis- 
cussed by U. Jahn, Die deutschen Op- 
fergebrduche bei Ackerbau und Vieh- 
zucht (Breslau, 1884), pp. 214-220. 
He comes to the conclusion, which I 
cannot but regard as erroneous, that 




to be sensi 
live and 
to feel 

offered to 
trees for 

If trees are animate, they are necessarily sensitive and 
the cutting of them down becomes a delicate surgical opera- 
tion, which must be performed with as tender a regard as 
possible for the feelings of the sufferers, who otherwise may 
turn and rend the careless or bungling operator. When an 
oak is being felled " it gives a kind of shriekes or groanes, 
that may be heard a mile off, as if it were the genius of the 
oake lamenting. E. Wyld, Esq., hath heard it severall 
times." l The Ojebways " very seldom cut down green or 
living trees, from the idea that it puts them to pain, and 
some of their medicine - men profess to have heard the 
wailing of the trees under the axe." 2 Trees that bleed and 
utter cries of pain or indignation when they are hacked or 
burned occur very often in Chinese books, even in Standard 
Histories. 3 Old peasants in some parts of Austria still 
believe that forest-trees are animate, and will not allow an 
incision to be made in the bark without special cause ; they 
have heard from their fathers that the tree feels the cut not 
less than a wounded man his hurt. In felling a tree they 
beg its pardon. 4 It is said that in the Upper Palatinate also 
old woodmen still secretly ask a fine, sound tree to forgive 
them before they cut it down. 5 So in Jarkino the woodman 
craves pardon of the tree he fells. 6 Before the Ilocanes of 
Luzon cut down trees in the virgin forest or on the mountains, 
they recite some verses to the following effect : " Be not uneasy, 
my friend, though we fell what we have been ordered to fell." 
This they do in order not to draw down on themselves the 
hatred of the spirits who live in the trees, and who are apt 
to avenge themselves by visiting with grievous sickness such 
as injure them wantonly. 7 When the Tagalogs of the 

the custom was in origin a rational pre- 
caution to keep the caterpillars from 
the trees. Compare the marriage of 
trees, below, pp. 24 sqq. 

1 J. Aubrey, Remaincs of Gentilisme 
andjudaisme (London, 1881), p. 247. 

2 Peter Jones, History of the Ojcb- 
luay Indians, p. 104. 

3 J. J. M. de Groot, Religious 
System of China, iv. 274. 

4 A. Peter, VolksthiimUches atis 
dsterreichisch-Schlcsien (Troppau, 1 865- 
67), ii. 30. 

5 P. Wagler, Die Eiche in alter und 
neuer Zeit, ii. (Berlin, 1891) p. 56 
note I. 

6 A. Bastian, Indonesien, i. 154; 
compare id., Die Vb'lker des ostlichen 
Asien, ii. 457 sq., iii. 251 s#., iv. 
42 sg. 

7 J. de los Reyes y Florentine, 
" Die religiosen Anschauungen der 
Iloranen (Luzon)," Mittheilungen der 
k. k. Geograph. Gesellschaft in IVien, 
xxxi. (1888) p. 556. 


Philippines wish to pluck a flower, they ask leave of the 
genius (nono) of the flower to do so ; when they are 
obliged to cut down a tree they beg pardon of the 
genius of the tree and excuse themselves by saying that 
it was the priest who bade them fell it. 1 Among the 
Tigre-speaking tribes in the north of Abyssinia people 
are afraid to fell a green and fruit- bearing tree lest they 
incur the curse of God, which is heard in the groaning of 
the tree as it sinks to the ground. But if a man is bold 
enough to cut down such a tree, he will say to it, " Thy 
curse abide in thee," or he will allege that it was not he but 
an elephant or a rhinoceros that knocked it down. 2 Amongst 
the Hos of Togoland, in West Africa, when a man wishes to 
make palm-wine he hires woodmen to fell the trees. They 
go into the palm-wood, set some meal on the ground and 
say to the wood, " That is your food. The old man at home 
sent us to cut you down. We are still children who know 
nothing at all. The old man at home has sent us." They 
say this because they think that the wood is a spirit and 
that it is angry with them. 3 Before a Karo Batak cuts 
down a tree, he will offer it betel and apologies ; and if in 
passing the place afterwards he should see the tree weeping 
or, as we should say, exuding sap, he hastens to console it 
by sprinkling the blood of a fowl on the stump. 4 The 
Basoga of Central Africa think that when a tree is cut down 
the angry spirit which inhabits it may cause the death of the 
chief and his family. To prevent this disaster they consult 
a medicine-man before they fell a tree. If the man of skill 
gives leave to proceed, the woodman first offers a fowl and a 
goat to the tree ; then as soon as he has given the first blow 
with the axe, he applies his mouth to the cut and sucks some 
of the sap. In this way he forms a brotherhood with the 
tree, just as two men become blood-brothers by sucking each 

1 F.Gardner, " Philippine (Tagalog) Littmann, Publications of the Prince- 
Superstitions," Journal of American ton Expedition to Abyssinia (Leyden, 
Folk-lore, xix. (1906) p. 191. These 1910). 

superstitions are translated from an old 3 J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stamme (Ber- 

and rare work La Praticadelministerio, lin, 1906), pp. 394-39- 

by Padre Tomas Ortiz (Manila, 1713). 4 J. H. Neumann, " De tendi in 

2 Th. Noldeke, " Tigre - Texte," verband met Si Dajang," Mededeelingen 
Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie, xxiv. van wege het Nederlandsche Zendeling- 
(1910) p.. 298, referring to E. genootschap, xlviii. (1904) pp. 124^. 



other's blood. After that he can cut down his tree-brother 
with impunity. 1 An ancient Indian ritual directs that 
in preparing to fell a tree the woodman should lay a 
stalk of grass on the spot where the blow is to fall, with the 
words, " O plant, shield it ! " and that he should say to the 
axe, " O axe, hurt it not ! " When the tree had fallen, he 
poured melted butter on the stump, saying, " Grow thou out 
of this, O lord of the forest, grow with a hundred shoots ! 
May we grow with a thousand shoots ! " Then he anointed 
the severed stem and wound a rope of grass round it. 2 
Bleeding Again, when a tree or plant is cut it is sometimes thought 

trees - to bleed. Some Indians dare not cut a certain plant, 
because there comes out a red juice which they take for the 
blood of the plant. 3 In Samoa there was a grove of trees 
which no one dared hew down. Once some strangers tried 
to do so, but blood flowed from the tree, and the sacrilegious 
strangers fell ill and died. 4 Down to 1859 there stood a 
sacred larch-tree at Nauders in the Tyrol which was thought 
to bleed whenever it was cut ; moreover people fancied that 
the steel pierced the woodman's body to the same depth 
that it pierced the tree, and that the wound on his body 
would not heal until the bark closed over the scar on the 
trunk. So sacred was the tree that no one would gather 
fuel or cut timber near it ; and to curse, scold, or quarrel in 
its neighbourhood was regarded as a crying sin which would 
be supernaturally punished on the spot. Angry disputants 
were often hushed with the warning whisper, " Don't, the 
sacred tree is here." 5 

Trees But the spirits of vegetation are not always treated with 

deference and respect. If fair words and kind treatment do 

make them not move them, stronger measures are sometimes resorted 
to. The durian-tree of the East Indies, whose smooth stem 

1 From a letter of the Rev. J. * G. Turner, Samoa, p. 63. 

Roscoe, written in Busoga, 2ist May, 6 I. v. Zingerle, "Der heilige Baum 

J 9o8. bei Nauders," Zeitschrift fur deutsche 

8 Satapatha - Brahmana, translated M ytllP* ""* Stttenkunde, iv. (1859), 

by J. Eggeling, Part II. pp. 165 so PP- 33 *?.?: Accordin g ^ Lucan 

(Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxvi j ' ( pliar l- "i- 429-430, the soldiers 

H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda whom Caesar ordered to cut down the 

pp. 256 so. sacred oak -grove of the Druids at Mar- 

seilles believed that the axes would re- 

: la Loubere, Du royaume de bound from the trees and wound them- 

Siam (Amsterdam, 1691), i. 383. selves. 


often shoots up to a height of eighty or ninety feet without 
sending out a branch, bears a fruit of the most delicious 
flavour and the most disgusting stench. The Malays culti- 
vate the tree for the sake of its fruit, and have been known 
to resort to a peculiar ceremony for the purpose of stimu- 
lating its fertility. Near Jugra in Selangor there is a small 
grove of durian -trees, and on a specially chosen day the 
villagers used to assemble in it. Thereupon one of the 
local sorcerers would take a hatchet and deliver several 
shrewd blows on the trunk of the most barren of the 
trees, saying, " Will you now bear fruit or not? If you do 
not, I shall fell you." To this the tree replied through the 
mouth of another man who had climbed a mangostin-tree 
hard by (the durian-tree being unclimbable), " Yes, I will 
now bear fruit ; I beg you not to fell me." l So in Japan to 
make trees bear fruit two men go into an orchard. One of 
them climbs up a tree and the other stands at the foot with 
an axe. The man with the axe asks the tree whether it will 
yield a good crop next year and threatens to cut it down 
if it does not. To this the man among the branches replies 
on behalf of the tree that it will bear abundantly. 2 Odd as this 
mode of horticulture may seem to us, it has its exact parallels 
in Europe. On Christmas Eve many a South Slavonian and 
Bulgarian peasant swings an axe threateningly against a 
barren fruit-tree, while another man standing by intercedes 
for the menaced tree, saying, " Do not cut it down ; it will soon 
bear fruit." Thrice the axe is swung, and thrice the impend- 
ing blow is arrested at the entreaty of the intercessor. After 
that the frightened tree will certainly bear fruit next year. 8 
So at the village of Ucria in Sicily, if a tree obstinately 
refuses to bear fruit, the owner pretends to hew it down. 
Just as the axe is about to fall, a friend intercedes for the 
tree, begging him to have patience for one year more, and 
promising not to interfere again if the culprit has not mended 

1 W. W. Skeat, Malay Magic, pp. 8 F. S. Krauss, Volksglaubt und 
198 sq. As to the durian-tree and its religioser Brauch der Sudslaven, p. 34; 
fruit, see A. R. Wallace, The Malay A. Strausz, Die Bulgaren (Leipsic, 
Archipelago* (London, 1877), pp. 74 1898), p. 352. Compare R. F. 
sqq. Kaindl, " Aus der Volksiiberlieferung 

2 W. G. Aston, Shinto (London, der Bojken," Globus, Ixxix. (1901) p. 
1905), p. 165. 152. 




Trees his ways by then. The owner grants his request, and the 
threatened Sicilians say that a tree seldom remains deaf to such a 
make them menace. The ceremony is performed on Easter Saturday. 1 
bear fruit. j n Armenia the same pantomime is sometimes performed by 
two men for the same purpose on Good Friday. 2 In the 
Abruzzi the ceremony takes place before sunrise on the 
morning of St. John's Day (Midsummer Day). The owner 
threatens the trees which are slow to bear fruit. Thrice he 
walks round each sluggard repeating his threat and striking 
the trunk with the head of an axe. 3 In Lesbos, when 
an orange-tree or a lemon -tree does not bear fruit, the 
owner will sometimes set a looking-glass before the tree ; 
then standing with an axe in his hand over against the tree 
and gazing at its reflection in the glass he will feign to fall 
into a passion and will say aloud, " Bear fruit, or I'll cut you 
down." 4 When cabbages merely curl their leaves instead of 
forming heads as they ought to do, an Esthonian peasant 
will go out into the garden before sunrise, clad only in his 
shirt, and armed with a scythe, which he sweeps over the 
refractory vegetables as if he meant to cut them down. 
This intimidates the cabbages and brings them to a sense of 
their duty. 5 

Attempts If European peasants thus know how to work on the 

the^friu! fears f cabbages and fruit-trees, the subtle Malay has learned 
of trees and how to overreach the simple souls of the plants and trees 
that grow in his native land. Thus, when a bunch of fruit 
hangs from an aren palm-tree, and in reaching after it you 
tread on some of the fallen fruit, the Galelareese say that 
you ought to grunt like a wild boar in order that your feet 
may not itch. The chain of reasoning seems weak to a 
European mind, but the natives find no flaw in it. They 

1 G. Pitre, Spettacoli e feste popo- 
/art (Palermo, 1881), p. 221; id., 
Usi e costumi, credenze e preriudizi 
del popolo siciliano, iii. (Palermo, 
1889) p in ; G. Vuillier, "Chez les 
magiciens et les sorciers de la Correze," 
Tour du monde, N.S. v. (1899) p. 

2 M. Tche'raz, " Notes sur la mytho- 
logic Arme"nienne," Transactions of 
the Ninth International Congress of 
Orientalists (London, 1893), ii. 827. 

Compare M. Abeghian, Der armenische 
Volksglatibe (Leipsic, 1899), p. 60. 

3 G. Finamore, Credenze, ttsi, e 
costumi abruzzesi (Palermo, 1890), 
pp. 162 sq. 

4 Georgeakis et Pineau, Folk-lore de 
Lesbos (Paris, 1894), p. 354. 

6 Boecler-Kreutzwald, Der Ehsten 
abergldubische Gebrauche, Weisen und 
Gcivohnheiten (St. Petersburg, 1854), 
P- 134. 


have observed that wild boars are fond of the fruit, and run 
freely about among it as it lies on the ground. From this 
they infer that the animal's feet are proof against the itch 
which men suffer through treading on the fruit ; and hence 
they conclude that if, by grunting in a natural and life-like 
manner, you can impress the fruit with the belief that you 
are a pig, it will treat your feet as tenderly as the feet of 
his friends the real pigs. 1 Again, pregnant women in Java 
sometimes take a fancy to eat the wild species of a 
particular plant (Colocasia antiquorum\ which, on account 
of its exceedingly pungent taste, is not commonly used as 
food by human beings, though it is relished by pigs. In 
such a case it becomes the husband's duty to go and look 
for the plant, but before he gathers it he takes care to grunt 
loudly, in order that the plant may take him for a pig, and 
so mitigate the pungency of its flavour. 2 Again, in the 
Madiun district of Java there grows a plant of which the 
fruit is believed to be injurious for men, but not for apes. 
The urchins who herd buffaloes, and to whom nothing edible 
comes amiss, eat this fruit also ; but before plucking it they 
take the precaution of mimicking the voices of apes, in 
order to persuade the plant that its fruit is destined for the 
maw of these creatures. 3 Once more, the Javanese scrape 
the rind of a certain plant (Sarcolobus narcoticus) into a 
powder, with which they poison such dangerous beasts as 
tigers and wild boars. But the rind is believed not to be a 
poison for men. Hence the person who gathers the plant 
has to observe certain precautions in order that its baneful 
quality may not be lost in passing through his hands. He 
approaches it naked and creeping on all fours to make the 
plant think that he is a ravenous beast and not a man, and 
to strengthen the illusion he bites the stalk. After that the 
deadly property of the rind is assured. But even when the 
plant has been gathered and the powder made from it in 
strict accordance with certain superstitious rules, care is still 

1 M. J. van Baarda, "Fabelen, misme op Java," Teysmannia, No. 2, 
Verhalen, en Overleveringen der Gale- 1 896, pp. 59 sf.; Internationales Art hiv 
lareezen," Bijdragen tot de Taal- Land- fur Ethnographie, ix. (1896) p. 175. 
en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch- 3 A. G. Vorderman, op, fit. p. 60 ; 
Indie, xlv. (1895) p. 511. Internationales Archiv fiir Ethno- 

2 A. G. Vorderman, " Planten-ani- grapkie, ix. (1896) p. 176. 


needed in handling the powder, which is regarded as alive 
and intelligent. It may not be brought near a corpse, nor 
may a corpse be carried past the house in which the 
powder is kept. For if either of these things were to 
happen, the powder, seeing the corpse, would hastily con- 
clude that it had already done its work, and so all its 
noxious quality would be gone. 1 The Indians of the Upper 
Orinoco extract a favourite beverage from certain palm- 
trees which grow in their forests. In order to make the 
trees bear abundance of fruit the medicine-men blow sacred 
trumpets under them ; but how this is supposed to produce 
the desired effect does not appear. The trumpets (botutos) 
are objects of religious veneration ; no woman may look on 
them under pain of death. Candidates for initiation into the 
mystery of the trumpets must be men of good character and 
celibate. The initiated members scourge each other, fast, 
and practise other austerities. 2 

Trees The conception of trees and plants as animated beings 

actTother na turally results in treating them as male and female, who 

can be married to each other in a real, and not merely a 

figurative or poetical sense of the word. The notion is not 

purely fanciful, for plants like animals have their sexes and 

reproduce their kind by the union of the male and female 

elements. But whereas in all the higher animals the organs 

of the two sexes are regularly separated between different 

individuals, in most plants they exist together in every 

individual of the species. This rule, however, is by no 

means universal, and in many species the male plant is 

distinct from the female. The distinction appears to have 

been observed by some savages, for we are told that the 

Maoris " are acquainted with the sex of trees, etc., and have 

Artificial distinct names for the male and female of some trees." 3 The 

oTSate" ancients knew the difference between the male and the 

palm. female date-palm, and fertilised them artificially by shaking 

the pollen of the male tree over the flowers of the female. 4 

1 A. G. Vorderman, op. cit. pp. 3 Elsdon Best, "Maori Nomencla- 
61-63. ture, " Journal of the Anthropological 

2 A. de Humboldt, Voyage aux Institute, xxxii. (1902) p. 197. 
regions equinoxiales du Nouveau Con- 4 HeroJotus, i. 193; Theophrastus, 
tinent, ii. (Paris, 1819) pp. 369 sq., Historia plantarum, ii. 8. 4; Pliny, 
4 2 9 S 9- Nal. Hist. xiii. 31, 34 sg. In this 


The fertilisation took place in spring. Among the heathen 
of Harran the month during which the palms were fertilised 
bore the name of the Date Month, and at this time they 
celebrated the marriage festival of all the gods and goddesses. 1 
Different from this true and fruitful marriage of the palm are Marriages 
the false and barren marriages of plants which play a part 
in Hindoo superstition. For example, if a Hindoo has 
planted a grove of mangos, neither he nor his wife may taste 
of the fruit until he has formally married one of the trees, as 
a bridegroom, to a tree of a different sort, commonly a 
tamarind-tree, which grows near it in the grove. If there is 
no tamarind to act as bride, a jasmine will serve the turn. 
The expenses of such a marriage are often considerable, for 
the more Brahmans are feasted at it, the greater the glory 
of the owner of the grove. A family has been known to sell 
its golden and silver trinkets, and to borrow all the money 
they could in order to marry a mango-tree to a jasmine with 
due pomp and ceremony. 2 According to another account of 
the ceremony, a branch of a bar tree is brought and fixed 
near one of the mango trees in the grove to represent the bar 
or bridegroom, and both are wrapt round with the same piece 
of cloth by the owner of the grove and his wife. To com- 
plete the ceremony a bamboo basket containing the bride's 
belongings and dowry on a miniature scale is provided; and 
after the Brahman priest has done his part, vermilion, 
the emblem of a completed marriage, is applied to the 
mango as to a bride. 3 Another plant which figures as 

passage Pliny states that naturalists der Ssabismus (St. Petersburg, 1856), 

distinguished the sexes of all trees and ii. 26, 251. Mohammed forbade the 

plants. On Assyrian monuments a artificial fertilisation of the palm, 

winged figure is often represented hold- probably because of the superstitions 

ing an object which looks like a pine- attaching to the ceremony. But he had 

cone to a palm-tree. The scene has to acknowledge his mistake. See D. 

been ingeniously and with great proba- S. Margoliouth, Mohammed and the 

bility explained by Professor E. B. Rise of hlam, p. 230 (a passage pointed 

Tylor as the artificial fertilisation of out to me by Dr. A. W. Verrall). 
the date-palm by means of the male , ^ w R Sleeman> Rambles and 

inflorescence. See his paper m Pro- Recollecti(ms of an f ndian official 

ceedtngs of the Society of Bibhcal (Westminst \%^ j. 3 g ,,.. com . 

Archaeology xn (1890 pp. 383-393. pare Census of India, ,90,, vol. xiii., 

On the artificial fertilisation of the V Central Prm / nceSy part j. p . Q2 . 
date-palm, see C. Ritter, Vergletchende 

Erdkunde von Arabien (Berlin, 1847), 3 Journal of the Asiatic Society of 

ii. 811, 827 sq. Bengal, lxxii.,part iii. (Calcutta, 1904) 

1 D. Cbwolsohn, Die Ssabier und p. 42. 


Marriage a bride in Hindoo rites is the tulasi or Holy Basil (Ocymum 
of the holy sanc tuni). It is a small shrub, not too big to be grown in a 
large flower-pot, and is often placed in rooms ; indeed there 
is hardly a respectable Hindoo family that does not possess 
one. In spite of its humble appearance, the shrub is per- 
vaded by the essence of Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi, and 
is itself worshipped daily as a deity. The following prayer 
is often addressed to it : "I adore that tulasi in whose roots 
are all the sacred places of pilgrimage, in whose centre are 
all the deities, and in whose upper branches are all the 
Vedas." The plant is especially a woman's divinity, being 
regarded as an embodiment of Vishnu's wife Lakshmi, or of 
Rama's wife Sita, or of Krishna's wife Rukmini. Women 
worship it by walking round it and praying or offering 
flowers and rice to it. Now this sacred plant, as the 
embodiment of a goddess, is annually married to the god 
Krishna in every Hindoo family. The ceremony takes place 
in the month Karttika or November. In Western India 
they often bring an idol of the youthful Krishna in a gorgeous 
palanquin, followed by a long train of attendants, to the 
house of a rich man to be wedded to the basil ; and the 
festivities are celebrated with great pomp. 1 Again, as the 
wife of Vishnu, the holy basil is married to the Salagrama, 
a black fossil ammonite which is regarded as an embodiment 
of Vishnu. In North-Western India this marriage of the 
plant to the fossil has to be performed before it is lawful to 
taste of the fruit of a new orchard. A man holding the 
fossil personates the bridegroom, and another holding the 
basil represents the bride. After burning a sacrificial fire, 
the officiating Brahman puts the usual questions to the 
couple about to be united. Bri'de and bridegroom walk six 
times round a small spot marked out in the centre of the 
orchard. 2 Further, no well is considered lucky until the 

1 J. A. Dubois, Mceurs, institutions whom the holy plant is annually 

et ceremonies des pettples de I'Inde married in every pious Hindoo family. 

(Paris, 1825), ii. 448 sq. ; Monier See Census of India, 1901, vol. xviii. , 

Williams, Religious Life and Thought Baroda, p. 125. 

in India, pp. 333-335 ; W. Crooke, 2 Sir Henry M. Elliot, Memoirs on 

Popular Religion and Folklore of the History, Folklore, and Distribution 

Northern India (Westminster, 1896), of the Races of the North-western Pro- 

ii. no sq. According to another vinces of India, edited by J. Beames 

account, it is Vishnu, not Krishna, to (London, 1869), i. 233 sq. 


Salagrama has been solemnly wedded to the holy basil, Marriage 
which stands for the garden that the well is intended to ^ e holy 
water. The relations assemble ; the owner of the garden 
represents the bridegroom, while a kinsman of his wife 
personates the bride. Gifts are given to the Brahman s, a 
feast is held in the garden, and after that both garden and 
well may be used without danger. 1 The same marriage of 
the sacred fossil to the sacred plant is celebrated annually by 
the Rajah of Orchha at Ludhaura. A former Rajah used to 
spend a sum equal to about thirty thousand pounds, being 
one-fourth of his revenue, upon the ceremony. On one 
occasion over a hundred thousand people are said to have 
been present at the rite, and to have been feasted at the 
expense of the Rajah. The procession consisted of eight 
elephants, twelve hundred camels, and four thousand horses, 
all mounted and elegantly caparisoned. The most sumptu- 
ously decorated of the elephants carried the fossil god to 
pay his bridal visit to the little shrub goddess. On such an 
occasion all the rites of a regular marriage are performed, 
and afterwards the newly-wedded couple are left to repose 
together in the temple till the next year. 2 On Christmas 

1 W. Crooke, op. cit. i. 49. Salagrami, and is highly esteemed for 

its sanctity ; a visit to it confers great 

2 Sir W. H. Sleeman, Rambles and merit on a man. See Sonnerat, 
Recollections of an Indian Official Voyage aux Indes Orientales et a la 
(Westminster, 1893), i. 147-149, 175. Chine (Paris, 1782),!. 173^.; J. A. 
The Salagrama is commonly perforated Dubois, Macurs, institutions et clrf- 
in one or more places by worms or, as monies des peuples de r Indie (Paris, 
the Hindoos believe, by the legendary 1825), ii. 446-448; Sir W. H. Sleeman, 
insect Vajrakita or by Vishnu himself. op. cit. i. 148 sq., with the editor's 
The value of the fossil shell depends on notes ; Monier Williams, Religious 
its colour, and the number of its con- Thought and Life in India, pp. 69^.; 
volutions and holes. The black are G. Watt, Dictionary of the Economic 
prized as gracious embodiments of Products of India, vi. Part II. (London 
Vishnu; the violet are shunned as and Calcutta, 1893) p. 384; W. 
dangerous avatars of the god. He who Crooke, op. cit. ii. 164 sq. ; Indian 
possesses a black Salagrama keeps it Antiquary, xxv. (1896) p. 146; G. 
wrapped in white linen, washes and Oppert, On the Original Inhabitants of 
adores it daily. A draught of the Bharatavarsa or India (Westminster 
water in which the shell has been and Leipsic, 1893), pp. 337-359; id., 
washed is supposed to purge away all "Note sur les Salagramas," Comptes 
sin and to secure the temporal and rent/us de r Academic des Inscriptions 
eternal welfare of the drinker. These et Belles - Lettres (Paris, 1900), pp. 
fossils are found in Nepaul, in tlie 472-485. The shell derives its name 
upper course of the river Gandaka, a of ammonite from its resemblance to 
northern tributary of the Ganges. a ram's horn, recalling the ram-god 
Hence the district goes by the name of Ammon. 



Kvc German peasants used to tie fruit-trees together with 
straw ropes to make them bear fruit, saying that the trees 
1 were thus married. 1 

In the Moluccas, when the clove-trees are in blossom, 
tnev are treatecl like pregnant women. No noise may be 
made near them ; no light or fire may be carried past 
them at night ; no one may approach them with his hat on, 
a n must uncover in their presence. These precautions are 
observed lest the tree should be alarmed and bear no fruit, 
or should drop its fruit too soon, like the untimely delivery 
of a woman who has been frightened in her pregnancy. 2 So 
in the East the growing rice-crop is often treated with the 
same considerate regard as a breeding woman. Thus 
in Amboyna, when the rice is in bloom, the people say 
that it is pregnant and fire no guns and make no other 
noises near the field, for fear lest, if the rice were thus 
disturbed, it would miscarry, and the crop would be all straw 
and no grain. 8 The Javanese also regard the bloom on the 
rice as a sign that the plant is pregnant ; and they treat it 
accordingly, by mingling in the water that irrigates the fields 
a certain astringent food prepared from sour fruit, which is 
believed to be wholesome for women with child. 4 In some 
districts of Western Borneo there must be no talk of corpses 
or demons in the fields, else the spirit of the growing rice would 
be frightened and flee away to Java. 5 The Toboongkoos of 
Central Celebes will not fire a gun in a ricefield, lest the rice 
should be frightened away. 6 The Chams of Binh-Thuan, in 
Cochin-China, do not dare to touch the rice in the granary at 

1 Die gestriegelte Rockenphilosophie de volken van het Indischen archipel," 
(Chemnitz, 1759), pp. 239^. ; U. Jahn, De Indische Gids, June 1884, p. 958 ; 
Die deutsche Opfergebrauche bei Acker- id. , Handleiding voor de vergelijkende 
ban und Viehzucht, pp. 214 sqq. See Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch Indie 
above, p. 17. (Leyden, 1893), pp. 549 sq. 

2 Van Schmid, " Aanteekeningen 8 E - L - M - Kiihr " Schetsen uit 
nopens de zeden, gewoonten en gebrui- Borneo's Westerafdeeling," Bijdragen 
ken, etc., der bevolking van de eilanden tot <& Taal- Laud- en Volkenkunde -van 
Saparoea, etc." Tijdschrift voor Ne$r- Nederlandsch- Indie, xlvii. (1897) pp. 
lands India, 1843 (Batavia), dl. ii. p. 5$ sq. 

605 ; A. Bastian, Indonesien, i. 1 56. 6 A - c - Kruijt, " Eenige ethno- 

3 /- \\r 7 r- T> grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de 

3 G. W. W. C Baron van Hoe veil, ^ obo koe en de g Tomorij Mede . 
Ambon en meer bepaaldeliik de Oelia- ./ i * *r j ? , , 

*n (Dordrecht, 1875), p. 62. f^ n f het ***"** 

Z,endehnggenootschap, xhv. (1900) p. 

4 G. A. \Vilken, " Het animisme bij 221. 


mid-day, because the rice is then asleep, and it would be both 
rude and dangerous to disturb its noonday slumber. 1 In 
Orissa growing rice is " considered as a pregnant woman, 
and the same ceremonies are observed with regard to it as in 
the case of human females." 2 In Poso, a district of Central 
Celebes, when the rice-ears are beginning to form, women go 
through the field feeding the young ears with soft-boiled rice 
to make them grow fast. They carry the food in calabashes, 
and grasping the ears in their hands bend them over into 
the vessels that they may partake of the strengthening pap. 
The reason for boiling the rice soft is that the ears are 
regarded as young children who could not digest rice cooked 
in the usual way. 3 The Tomori of Central Celebes feed the 
ripening rice by touching it with the contents of a broken 
egg. 4 When the grain begins to form, the people of Gayo, 
a district of northern Sumatra, regard the rice as pregnant 
and feed it with a pap composed of rice-meal, coco-nut, 
and treacle, which they deposit on leaves in the middle 
and at the corners of the field. And when the crop is 
plentiful and the rice has been threshed, they give it water 
to drink in a pitcher, which they bury to the neck in the 
heap of grain. 5 

Sometimes it is the souls of the dead which are believed Trees 
to animate trees. The Dieri tribe of South Australia regard ^^ 
as very sacred certain trees which are supposed to be tenanted 
their fathers transformed ; hence they speak with reverence S o U is of the 
of these trees, and are careful that they shall not be cut down dead - 
or burned. If the settlers require them to hew down the 
trees, they earnestly protest against it, asserting that were they 
to do so they would have no luck, and might be punished for 
not protecting their ancestors. 6 Some of the Philippine 
Islanders believe that the souls of their ancestors are in 

1 D. Grangeon, " Les Cham et leur teekeningen omtrent de Toboengkoe 
superstitions," Missions Catholiques, en Tomori," it., xliv. (1900) p. 227. 
xxviii. (1896) p. 83. 6 C. Snouck Hurgronje, ffet Gajo- 

2 Indian Antigrtary, i. ( 1 872) p. 1 70. land en zijne Bewoners (Batavia, 1 903), 

3 A. C. Kruijt, " Een en ander pp. 344, 345. 

aangaande het geestelijk en maatschap- 6 S. Gason, "The Dieyerie Tribe," 

pelijk leven van den Poso-Alfoer," Native Tribes of South Australia, p. 

Mededeelingen van wege het Neder- 280 ; A. W. Howitt, " The Dieri and 

landsche Zendelinggenootschap, xxxix. other kindred Tribes of Central Aus- 

(1895) pp.. 22, 138. tra\\&" Journal of the Anthropological 

* Id., "Eenige ethnografische aan- Institute, xx. (1891) p. 89. 


Trees sup- certain trees, which they therefore spare. If they are obliged 
posed to be to f e jj one o f t h e se trees, they excuse themselves to it by 
byThe souls saying that it was the priest who made them do it. The 
ofthedead. S pj rits ^^g up t i ic j r a bode, by preference, in tall and stately 
trees with great spreading branches. When the wind rustles 
the leaves, the natives fancy it is the voice of the spirit ; and 
they never pass near one of these trees without bowing 
respectfully, and asking pardon of the spirit for disturbing 
his repose. Among the Ignorrotes, in the district of Le- 
panto, every village has its sacred tree, in which the souls 
of the dead forefathers of the hamlet reside. Offerings are 
made to the tree, and any injury done to it is believed to 
entail some misfortune on the village. Were the tree cut 
down, the village and all its inhabitants would inevitably 
perish. 1 The natives of Bontoc, a province in the north of 
Luzon, cut down the woods near their villages, but leave a 
few fine trees standing as the abode of the spirits of their 
ancestors (anitos) ; and they honour the spirits by depositing 
food under the trees. 2 The Dyaks believe that when a man 
dies by accident, as by drowning, it is a sign that the gods 
mean to exclude him from the realms of bliss. Accordingly 
his body is not buried, but carried into the forest and there 
laid down. The souls of such unfortunates pass into trees 
or animals or fish, and are much dreaded by the Dyaks, who 
abstain from using certain kinds of wood, or eating certain 
sorts of fish, because they are supposed to contain the souls 
of the dead. 8 Once, while walking with a Dyak through the 
jungle, Sir Hugh Low observed that his companion, after 
raising his sword to strike a great snake, suddenly arrested 
his arm and suffered the reptile to escape. On asking the 
reason, he was told by the Dyak that the bush in front of 
which they were standing had been a man, a kinsman of his 

1 F. Blumentritt, " Der Ahnencultus 2 A. Schadenberg, " Beitrage zur 

und die religiose Anschauungen der Kenntnis der im Innern Nordluzons 

Malaien des Philippine!!- Archipels," lebenden Stamme," Verhandlungen 

Mittheilungen der Wiener Geogr. Gesell- der Berliner Gesellschaft fur Anthro- 

scAaft (iS&2), pp. 159^. ; id., Versuch pologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte 

einer Ethnographic der Philippinen (1888), p. 40. 

(Gotha, 1882), pp. 13, 29 (Petermanri's 3 F. Grabowsky, "Der Tod, etc., 

Mittheilungen, Ergamungsheft, No. bei den Dajaken," Internationales 

67) ; J. Mallat, Les Philippines (Paris, Archiv fur Ethnographic, ii. (1889) 

1846), i. 63 Sf. p. 1 8 1. 


own, who, dying some ten years before, had appeared in a 
dream to his widow and told her that he had become that 
particular bamboo-tree. Hence the ground and everything 
on it was sacred, and the serpent might not be interfered 
with. The Dyak further related that in spite of the 
warning given to the woman in the vision, a man had 
been hardy enough to cut a branch of the tree, but that 
the fool had paid for his temerity with his life, for he 
died soon afterwards. A little bamboo altar stood in front 
of the bush, on which the remnants of offerings presented to 
the spirit of the tree were still visible when Sir Hugh Low 
passed that way. 1 

In Corea the souls of people who die of the plague Trees sup- 
or by the roadside, and of women who expire in childbed, ^tenanted 
invariably take up their abode in trees. To such spirits by the 
offerings of cake, wine, and pork are made on heaps of ^e dead, 
stones piled under the trees. 2 In China it has been 
customary from time immemorial to plant trees on graves 
in order thereby to strengthen the soul of the deceased and 
thus to save his body from corruption ; and as the ever- 
green cypress and pine are deemed to be fuller of vitality 
than other trees, they have been chosen by preference for 
this purpose. Hence the trees that grow on graves are some- 
times identified with the souls of the departed. 3 Among 
the Miao-Kia, an aboriginal race of Southern and Western 
China, a sacred tree stands at the entrance of every village, 
and the inhabitants believe that it is tenanted by the soul of 
their first ancestor and that it rules their destiny. Some- 
times there is a sacred grove near a village, where the trees 
are suffered to rot and die on the spot. Their fallen branches 
cumber the ground, and no one may remove them unless he 
has first asked leave of the spirit of the tree and offered him 
a sacrifice. 4 Among the Maraves of Southern Africa the 
burial - ground is always regarded as a holy place where 
neither a tree may be felled nor a beast killed, because 
everything there is supposed to be tenanted by the souls of 

1 H. Low, Sarawak (London, 1848), System of China, ii. 462 sqq., iv. 
p. 264. 277 sq. 

2 Mrs. Bishop, Korea and her Neigh- * La Mission lyonnaise fexplora- 
bours (London, 1898), i. 106 sq. tion commerciale en Chine 1895-1897 

3 J. J. M. de Groot, Religious (Lyons, 1898), p. 361. 


Trees sup- the dead. 1 Trees supposed to be inhabited by spirits of the 
P 05 ** 1 to ** dead are reported to be common in Southern Nigeria. 2 

tenanted , i /-. T-> 1 1 

by the souls Thus in the Indem tribe on the Cross River every village 
of thedead. has & ^ tree j nto w hi c h the souls of the villagers are 
believed to pass at death. Hence they will not allow these 
trees to be cut, and they sacrifice to them when people are 
ill. 8 Other natives of the Cross River say that the big tree 
of the village is " their Life," and that anybody who breaks 
a bough of it will fall sick or die unless he pays a fine to 
the chief. 4 Some of the mountaineers on the north-west 
coast of New Guinea think that the spirits of their ancestors 
live on the branches of trees, on which accordingly they hang 
rags of red or white cotton, always in the number of seven 
or a multiple of seven ; also, they place food on the trees or 
hang it in baskets from the boughs. 5 Among the Buryats of 
Siberia the bones of a deceased shaman are deposited in a 
hole hewn in the trunk of a great fir, which is then carefully 
closed up. Thenceforth the tree goes by the name of the 
shaman's fir, and is looked upon as his abode. Whoever 
cuts down such a tree will perish with all his household. 
Every tribe has its sacred grove of firs in which the bones of 
the dead shamans are buried. In treeless regions these firs 
often form isolated clumps on the hills, and are visible from 
afar. 6 The Lkungen Indians of British Columbia fancy that 
trees are transformed men, and that the creaking of the 
branches in the wind is their voice. 7 In Croatia, they say 
that witches used to be buried under old trees in the forest, 
and that their souls passed into the trees and left the 
villagers in peace. 8 A tree that grows on a grave is re- 
garded by the South Slavonian peasant as a sort of fetish. 

1 "Der Muata Cazembe und die en Noordkust van Nederlandsch Nieuw- 

Volkerstamme der Maravis, Chevas, Guinea," Tijdschriftvanhetkon.Neder- 

Muembas, Lundas und andere von landsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap, 

Siid-Afrika," Zeitschrift fur allgemeine Tweede Serie, x. (1893) p. J 99- 

Erdkunde, vi. (1856) p. 273. 6 " Shamanism in Siberia and Euro- 

8 Major A. G. Leonard, The Lower pean Russia, " Journal of the Anthropo- 

Niger and its Tribes (London, 1906), logical Institute, xxiv. (1895) P- 136. 

pp. 298 sqq. ? Fr. Boas, in Sixth Report on the 

3 Ch. Partridge, Cross River North-Western Tribes of Canada, p. 28 
Natives (London, 1905), pp. 272 sq. (separate reprint from the Report of the 

4 Ch. Partridge, op. cit. pp. 5, British Association for 1890). 

194, 205 sq. 8 p. g. Krauss, Volksglaube und 

6 F. S. A. de Clercq, " De West- religioser Brauch der Sudslaven, p. 36. 



Whoever breaks a twig from it hurts the soul of the dead, 
but gains thereby a magic wand, since the soul embodied in 
the twig will be at his service. 1 This reminds us of the story 
of Polydorus in Virgil, 2 and of the bleeding pomegranate 
that grew on the grave of the fratricides Eteocles and 
Polynices at Thebes. 3 Similar stories are told far away from 
the classic lands of Italy and Greece. In an Annamite tale 
an old fisherman makes an incision in the trunk of a tree 
which has drifted ashore ; but blood flows from the cut, and 
it appears that an empress with her three daughters, who 
had been cast into the sea, are embodied in the tree. 4 On 
the Slave Coast of West Africa the negroes tell how from 
the mouldering bones of a little boy, who had been murdered 
by his brother in the forest, there sprang up an edible fungus, 
which spoke and revealed the crime to the child's mother 
when she attempted to pluck it. 5 

In most, if not all, of these cases the spirit is viewed as Trees 
incorporate in the tree ; it animates the tree and must suffer 
and die with it. But, according to another and probably not as the 
later opinion, the tree is not the body, but merely the abode m er eiy Ut 
of the tree-spirit, which can quit it and return to it at as the 
pleasure. The inhabitants of Siaoo, an island of the Sangi spirits. 
group in the East Indies, believe in certain sylvan spirits 
who dwell in forests or in great solitary trees. At full 
moon the spirit comes forth from his lurking-place and 
roams about. He has a big head, very long arms and legs, 
and a ponderous body. In order to propitiate the wood- 
spirits people bring offerings of food, fowls, goats, and so 
forth to the places which they are supposed to haunt. 6 The 
people of Nias think that, when a tree dies, its liberated 
spirit becomes a demon, which can kill a coco-nut palm by 
merely lighting on its branches, and can cause the death of 
all the children in a house by perching on one of the posts 
that support it. Further, they are of opinion that certain 

1 F. S. Krauss, loc. cit. Peoples of the Slave Coast of West 

2 Aeneid, iii. 22 sqq. Africa, pp. 134-136. 

3 Philostratus, Imagines, ii. 29. 6 B. C. A. J. van Dinter, " Eenige 

4 A. Landes, " Contes et legendes geographische en ethnographische 
annamites," No. 9, in Cochinchine aanteekeningen betreffende het eiland 
franfaise : excursions et reconnais- Siaoe," Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal' 
sauces, No. 20 (Saigon, 1885), p. 310. Land- en Volkenkunde, xli. (1899) pp. 

6 A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba- speaking 379 sq. 





Trees con- trees are at all times inhabited by roving demons who, if 
the trees were damaged, would be set free to go about on 

c/spirits. errands of mischief. Hence the people respect these trees, 
and are careful not to cut them down. 1 On the Tanga coast 
of East Africa mischievous sprites reside in great trees, 
especially in the fantastically shaped baobabs. Sometimes 
they appear in the shape of ugly black beings, but as a rule 
they enter unseen into people's bodies, from which, after 
causing much sickness and misery, they have to be cast out 
by the sorcerer. 2 The Warramunga tribe of Central Aus- 
tralia believe that certain trees are the abode of disembodied 
human spirits waiting to be born again. No woman will 
strike one of these trees with an axe, lest the blow might 
disturb one of the spirits, who might come forth from the 
tree and enter her body. 3 In the Galla region of East Africa, 
where the vegetation is magnificent, there are many sacred 
trees, the haunts of jinn. Most of them belong to the 
sycamore and maple family, but they do not all exhale an 
equal odour of sanctity. The watesa, with its edible fruit, 
is least revered ; people climb it to get the fruit, and this 
disturbs the jinn, who naturally do not care to linger among 
its boughs. The gute tubi, which has no edible fruit, is more 
sacred. Every Galla tribe has its sacred tree, which is 
always one individual of a particular species called lafto. 
When a tree has been consecrated by a priest it becomes 
holy, and no branch of it may be broken. Such trees are 
loaded with long threads, woollen bands, and bracelets ; the 
blood of animals is poured on their roots and sometimes 
smeared on their trunks, and pots full of butter, milk, and 
flesh are placed among the branches or on the ground under 
them. In many Galla tribes women may not tread on the 
shadow of sacred trees or even approach the trees. 4 

Not a few ceremonies observed at cutting down haunted 
trees are based on the belief that the spirits have it in their 

1 E. Modigliani, Un Viaggio a Nias 
(Milan, 1890), p. 629. 

2 O. Baumann, Usambara und seine 
Nachbargebiete (Berlin, 1 891), pp. 57 sq. 

3 Spencer and Gillen, Northern 
Tribes of Central Australia, pp. 162, 
33 '? 

* Ph. Paulitschke, Ethnographie 

Nordost-Afrikas : Die geistige Cultur 
der Dandkil, Galla und Somdl (Berlin, 
1896), pp. 34 sq. On the Galla worship 
of trees, see further Mgr. Massaja, in 
Annales de la Propagation de la foi, 
xxx. (1858) p. 50; Coulbeaux, " Au 
pays de Meneik, " Missions Catholiques t 
xxx. (1898) p. 418. 


power to quit the trees at pleasure or in case of need. Thus Ceremonies 
when the Pelew Islanders are felling a tree, they conjure the 
spirit of the tree to leave it and settle on another. 1 The wily 
negro of the Slave Coast, who wishes to fell an ashorin tree, 
but knows that he cannot do it so long as the spirit remains 
in the tree, places a little palm-oil on the ground as a bait, 
and then, when the unsuspecting spirit has quitted the tree 
to partake of this dainty, hastens to cut down its late abode. 2 
The Alfoors of Poso, in Central Celebes, believe that great 
trees are inhabited by demons in human form, and the taller 
the tree the more powerful the demon. Accordingly they 
are careful not to fell such trees, and they leave offerings at 
the foot of them for the spirits. But sometimes, when they 
are clearing land for cultivation, it becomes necessary to cut 
down the trees which cumber it. In that case the Alfoor 
will call to the demon of the tree and beseech him to leave 
his abode and go elsewhere, and he deposits food under the 
tree as provision for the spirit on his journey. Then, and 
not till then, he may fell the tree. Woe to the luckless 
wight who should turn a tree-spirit out of his house without 
giving him due notice ! 3 When the Toboongkoos of Central 
Celebes are about to clear a piece of forest in order to plant 
rice, they build a tiny house and furnish it with tiny clothes 
and some food and gold. Then they call together all the 
spirits of the wood, offer them the little house with its con- 
tents, and beseech them to quit the spot. After that they 
may safely cut down the wood without fearing to wound 
themselves in so doing. 4 Before the Tomori of Central 
Celebes fell a tall tree they lay a quid of betel at its foot, 
and invite the spirit who dwells in the tree to change his 
lodging ; moreover, they set a little ladder against the 
trunk to enable him to descend with safety and comfort. 5 

1 J. Kubary, " Die Religion der deelingen van wege het Nederlandsche 
Pelauer," in A. Bastian's Allerlci atis Zendelinggenootschap, xl. (1896) pp. 28 
Volks- und Menschenkunde, i. 52 ; id., sq. 

Beitrdge zur Kenntnis des Karolincn * A. C. Kruijt, " Eenige ethno- 

Archipels, iii. (Leyden, 1895) p. 228. grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de 

2 A. B. Ellis, The Yornba- speaking Toboengkoe en de Tomori," Mededeel- 
Feoples of the Slave Coast, p. 115. ingen -van wege het Nederlandsche 

3 A. C. Krujjt, " Een en ander Zendelinggcnootschap, xliv. (1900) pp. 
aangaande het geestelijk en maatschap- 220 sq, 

pelijk levenvandenPoso-Alfoer," Mede- 8 A. C. Kruijt, op. cit. p. 242. 


Ceremonies The Sundanese of the Eastern Archipelago drive golden or 
at felling s ji ver na ji s i n to the trunk of a sacred tree for the sake of 


expelling the tree-spirit before they hew down his abode. 
They seem to think that, though the nails will hurt him, his 
vanity will be soothed by the reflection that they are of 
gold or silver. In Rotti, an island to the south of Timor, 
when they fell a tree to make a coffin, they sacrifice a dog 
as compensation to the tree-spirit whose property they are 
thus making free with. 2 Before the Gayos of Northern 
Sumatra clear a piece of forest for the purpose of planting 
tobacco or sugar-cane, they offer a quid of betel to the spirit 
whom they call the Lord of the Wood, and beg his leave to 
quarter themselves on his domain. 3 The Mandelings of 
Sumatra endeavour to lay the blame of all such misdeeds at 
the door of the Dutch authorities. Thus when a man is 
cutting a road through a forest and has to fell a tall tree 
which blocks the way, he will not begin to ply his axe until 
he has said : " Spirit who lodgest in this tree, take it not ill 
that I cut down thy dwelling, for it is done at no wish of 
mine but by order of the Controller." And when he wishes 
to clear a piece of forest-land for cultivation, it is necessary 
that he should come to a satisfactory understanding with 
the woodland spirits who live there before he lays low their 
leafy dwellings. For this purpose he goes to the middle of 
the plot of ground, stoops down, and pretends to pick up a 
letter. Then unfolding a bit of paper he reads aloud an 
imaginary letter from the Dutch Government, in which he 
is strictly enjoined to set about clearing the land without 
delay. Having done so, he says : " You hear that, spirits. 
I must begin clearing at once, or I shall be hanged." 4 
When the Tagales of the Philippines are about to fell a 
tree which they believe to be inhabited by a spirit, they 
excuse themselves to the spirit, saying : " The priest has 

1 J. Habbema, " Bijgeloof in de 3 C. Snouck Hurgronje, Het Gajo- 
Preanger-Regentschappen," Bijdragen land en zijne Bewoners (Batavia, 1903), 
tot de Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde van p. 351. 

Nederlandsch- Indie", xli. (1900) pp. 4 Th. A. L. Heyting, " Beschrijving 

113, 115. der onder-afdeeling Groot-mandeling 

2 G. Heijmering, "Zeden en Ge- en Batang-natal," Tijdschrift van het 
woonten op het eiland Rottie," Tijd- Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genoot- 
schrift voor NeMands Indie (1844), schap, Tweede Serie, xiv. (1897) pp. 
dl. i. p. 358. 289 sq. 


ordered us to do it ; the fault is not ours, nor the will 
either." l There is a certain tree called rara which the 
Dyaks believe to be inhabited by a spirit. Before they cut 
down one of these trees they strike an axe into the trunk, 
leave it there, and call upon the spirit either to quit his 
dwelling or to give them a sign that he does not wish it to 
be meddled with. Then they go home. Next day they 
visit the tree, and if they find the axe still sticking in the 
trunk, they can fell the tree without danger ; there is no 
spirit in it, or he would certainly have ejected the axe from 
his abode. But if they find the axe lying on the ground, 
they know that the tree is inhabited and they will not fell 
it ; for it must surely have been the spirit of the tree in 
person who expelled the intrusive axe. Some sceptical 
Europeans, however, argue that what casts out the axe is 
strychnine in the sap rather than the tree-spirit. They say 
that if the sap is running, the axe must necessarily be forced 
out by the action of heat and the expansion of the exuding 
gutta ; whereas if the axe remains in the trunk, this only 
shews that the tree is not vigorous but ready to die. 2 

Before they cut down a great tree, the Indians in the Ceremonies 
neighbourhood of Santiago Tepehuacan hold a festival in 
order to appease the tree and so prevent it from hurting 
anybody in its fall. 3 In the Greek island of Siphnos, if 
woodmen have to fell a tree which they regard as possessed 
by a spirit, they are most careful, when it falls, to prostrate 
themselves humbly and in silence lest the spirit should 
chastise them as it escapes. Sometimes they put a stone on 
the stump of the tree to prevent the egress of the spirit. 4 
In some parts of Sumatra, so soon as a tree is felled, a young 
tree is planted on the stump, and some betel and a few 
small coins are also placed on it. 6 The purpose of the 

1 F. Blumentritt, Versuch einer 3 " Lettre du cure de Santiago 
Ethnographic der Philippinen (Gotha, Tepehuacan a son e"veque," Bulletin de 
1882), p. 13 (Petermanns Mittheilun- la Societi de Glographie (Paris), II me - 

fen, Erganzungheft, No. 67). See Se*rie, ii. (1834) pp. 182 sq. 
above, pp. 18 sq. 

2 Grassland, quoted by H. Ling Roth, * J. T. Bent, The Cyclades, p. 27. 
The Natives of Sarawak and British 

North Borneo,- i. 286 ; compare Jour- 6 A. L. Van Hasselt, Volksbeschrijv~ 

nalof the Anthropological Institute, xxi. ing van Midden Sumatra (Leyden, 
(1892) p. 114. 1882), p. 156. 


Ceremonies ceremony seems plain. The spirit of the tree is offered a 
at felling new home j n the young tree planted on the stump of the 
old one, and the offering of betel and money is meant 
to compensate him for the disturbance he has suffered. 
Similarly, when the Maghs of Bengal were obliged by Euro- 
peans to cut down trees which the natives believed to be 
tenanted by spirits, one of them was always ready with a 
green sprig, which he ran and placed in the middle of the 
stump when the tree fell, " as a propitiation to the spirit 
which had been displaced so roughly, pleading at the same 
time the orders of the strangers for the work." 1 In Halma- 
hera, however, the motive for placing a sprig on the stump is 
said to be to deceive the spirit into thinking that the fallen 
stem is still growing in its old place. 2 The Gilyaks insert 
a stick with curled shavings on the stump of the tree which 
they have felled, believing that in this way they give back to the 
dispossessed tree-spirit his life and soul. 3 German woodmen 
make a cross upon the stump while the tree is falling, in the 
belief that this enables the spirit of the tree to live upon the 
stump. 4 Before the Katodis fell a forest tree, they choose a 
tree of the same kind and worship it by presenting a coco- 
nut, burning incense, applying a red pigment, and begging it 
to bless the undertaking. 5 The intention, perhaps, is to induce 
the spirit of the former tree to shift its quarters to the latter. 
In clearing a wood, a Galelareese must not cut down the last 
tree till the spirit in it has been induced to go away. 6 When 
the Dyaks fell the jungle on the hills, they often leave a few 
trees standing on the hill-tops as a refuge for the dispossessed 
tree-spirits. 7 Sailing up the* Baram river in Sarawak you 
pass from time to time a clearing in the forest where manioc 
is cultivated. In the middle of every one of these clearings 
a solitary tree is always left standing as a home for the 

1 W. Crooke, Popular Religion and 5 Journal of the Royal Asiatic 

Folk-lore of Northern India (West- Society, vii. (1843) P- 2 9- 
minster, 1896), ii. 87. 

' I. M. van Baarda, " lie de Halma- A " Bastlan > **"** ' '7- 

heira," Bulletins de la Soctite d 1 Anthro- 7 J. Perham, " Sea Dyak Religion," 

pologie de Paris, iv. (1893) p. 547. Journal of the Straits Branch of the 

3 L. Sternberg, "Die Religion der Royal Asiatic Society, No. 10 (Dec. 

Gilyak," Archiv fiir Religionswissen- 1882), p. 217; H. Ling Roth, The 

scAa/f, viii. (1905) p. 246. Natives of Sarawak and British North 

H W. Mannhardt, Baumkultits, p. 83. Borneo, i. 184. 


ejected spirits of the wood. Its boughs are stripped off, all 
but the topmost, and just under its leafy crown two cross- 
pieces are fastened from which rags dangle. 1 Similarly in 
India, the Gonds allow a grove of typical trees to remain as 
a home or reserve for the woodland spirits when they are 
clearing away a jungle. 2 The Mundaris have sacred groves 
which were left standing when the land was cleared, lest the 
sylvan gods, disquieted at the felling of the trees, should 
abandon the place. 3 The Miris in Assam are unwilling to 
break up new land for cultivation so long as there is fallow 
land available ; for they fear to offend the spirits of the 
woods by hewing down trees needlessly. 4 On the other 
hand, when a child has been lost, the Padams of Assam 
think that it has been stolen by the spirits of the wood ; so 
they retaliate on the spirits by felling trees till they find the 
child. The spirits, fearing to be left without a tree in which to 
lodge, give up the child, and it is found in the fork of a tree. 5 

Even when a tree has been felled, sawn into planks, and Propitiat- 
used to build a house, it is possible that the woodland spirit spfruTtn 
may still be lurking in the timber, and accordingly some house- 
people seek to propitiate him before or after they occupy the 
new house. Hence, when a new dwelling is ready the 
Toradjas of Central Celebes kill a goat, a pig, or a buffalo, 
and smear all the woodwork with its blood. If the building 
is a lobo or spirit-house, a fowl or a dog is killed on the 
ridge of the roof, and its blood allowed to flow down on 
both sides. The ruder Tonapoo in such a case sacrifice a 
human being on the roof. This sacrifice on the roof of a 
lobo or temple serves the same purpose as the smearing of 
blood on the woodwork of an ordinary house. The inten- 
tion is to propitiate the forest-spirits who may still be in the 
timber ; they are thus put in good humour and will do the 

1 W. Ktikenthal, Forschungsreise in * E. T. Dalton, op. cit. p. 33 ; A. 

den Molukken und in Borneo (Frank- Bastian, op. cit. p. 16. Compare L. 

fort, 1896), pp. 265 sq. A. Waddell, "The Tribes of the 

Brahmaputra Valley," Journal of the 

^Journal of the Anthropological In- Asiatic V Societ of Bengal, Ixix. (1901) 

stttute, xxv. (1896) p. 170. part m p fcfj? Robertson Smith, 

3 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- The Religion of the Semites, 2 pp. 132 

logy of Bengal, pp. 186, 1 88 ; compare sq. 

A. Bastian, Vblkerstdmme am Brahma- 6 E. T. Dalton, op. cit. p. 25 ; A. 

putra, p. 9. Bastian, op. cit. p. 37. 


ing tree- 
spirits in 

trees the 
abode of 


inmates of the house no harm. For a like reason people in 
Celebes and the Moluccas are much afraid of planting a 
post upside down at the building of a house ; for the forest- 
spirit, who might still be in the timber, would very naturally 
resent the indignity and visit the inmates with sickness. 1 
The Bahaus or Kayans of central Borneo are of opinion 
that tree-spirits stand very stiffly on the point of honour 
and visit men with their displeasure for any injury done to 
them. Hence after building a house, whereby they have been 
forced to illtreat many trees, these people observe a period 
of penance for a year, during which they must abstain from 
many things, such as the killing of bears, tiger-cats, and 
serpents. The period of taboo is brought to an end by a 
ceremony at which head-hunting, or the pretence of it, plays 
a part. The Ooloo-Ayar Dyaks on the Mandai river are 
still more punctilious in their observance of taboos after 
building a house. The length of the penance depends chiefly 
on the kind of timber used in the construction of the dwelling. 
If the timber was the valuable ironwood, the inmates of the 
house must deny themselves various dainties for three years. 
But the spirits of humbler trees are less exacting. 2 When the 
Kayans have felled an ironwood tree in order to cut it up 
into planks for a roof, they will offer a pig to the spirits of 
the tree, hoping thus to prevent the spirits from molesting 
the souls of persons assembled under the roof. 3 

Thus the tree is regarded, sometimes as the body, some- 
times as merely the house of the tree-spirit ; and when we 
read of sacred trees which may not be cut down because 
they are the seat of spirits, it is not always possible to say 
with certainty in which way the presence of the spirit in the 
tree is conceived. In the following cases, perhaps, the 
trees are regarded as the dwelling-place of the spirits rather 
than as their bodies. The Sea Dyaks point to many a tree 
as sacred because it is the abode of a spirit or spirits, and to 

1 A. C. Kruijt, " Het koppensnellen 
der Toradja's van Midden-Celebes en 
zijne beteekenis," Verslagen en Mede- 
declingen der konink. Akademie van 
Wctcnschappen, Afdeeling Letterkunde, 
IV. Reeks, iii. (1899) p. 195. 

2 A. \V. Niewenhuis, In Centraal- 
Rorneo (Leyden, 1900), i. 146; id., 

Quer durch Borneo, i. (Leyden, 1904) 
p. 107. 

3 Id., " Tweede Reis van Pontianak 
naar Samarinda," Tijdschrift van het 
konink. Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig 
Genootschap, II. Serie, xvii. (1900) 
P- 427- 


cut one of these down would provoke the spirit's anger, 
who might avenge himself by visiting the sacrilegious wood- 
man with sickness. 1 The Battas of Sumatra have been 
known to refuse to cut down certain trees because they 
were the abode of mighty spirits who would resent the 
injury. 2 One of the largest and stateliest of the forest trees 
in Perak is known as toallong ; it has a very poisonous sap 
which produces great irritation when it comes into contact 
with the skin. Many trees of this species have large hollow 
knobs on their trunks where branches have been broken 
off. These knobs are looked upon by the Malays as 
houses of spirits, and they object strongly to cut down trees 
that are thus disfigured, believing that the man who fells 
one of them will die within the year. When clearings are 
made in the forest these trees are generally left standing to 
the annoyance and expense of planters. 3 The Siamese fear 
to cut down any very fine trees lest they should incur the 
anger of the powerful spirits who inhabit them. 4 The En, 
a tribe of Upper Burmah, worship the spirits of hills and 
forests, and over great tracts of country they will not lay out 
fields for fear of offending the spirits. They say that if a 
tree is felled a man dies. 5 In every Khond village a large 
grove, generally of s&l trees (Shorea robusta), is dedicated to 
the forest god, whose favour is sought by the sacrifice of 
birds, hogs, and sheep, together with an offering of rice and 
an addled egg. This sacred grove is religiously preserved. 
The young trees are occasionally pruned, but not a twig may 
be cut for use without the formal consent of the village and 
the ceremonial propitiation of the god. 6 In some parts of 
Berar the holy groves are so carefully preserved, that during 
the annual festivals held in them it is customary to gather 
and burn solemnly all dead and fallen branches and 

1 J. Perham, " Sea Dyak Religion," 4 E. Young, The Kingdom of the 

Journal of the Straits Branch of the Yellow Robe (Westminster, 1898), pp. 

Royal Asiatic Society, No. 10 (Decem- 192 sq. 

ber 1882), p. 217; H Ling Roth 6 , Q S cott and J. P. Hardiman, 

The Natives of Sarawak and British Ga ^ Ueer of Upper Bttrma and the Shan 

North Borneo, i. 184. S(afes Part L vo i. i. (Rangoon, 1900) 

1 B. Hagen, " Beit rage zur Kennt- ' g 
niss der Battareligion," T'ijdschriftvoor 

Indische Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde, 6 Captain Macplierson, in North 

xxviii. 530, note. Indian Notes and Queries, ii. 112 

3 \V. W. Skeat, Malay Magic, p. 202. 428. 


Sacred trees. 1 The Larka Kols of India believe that the tops of trees 
trees the are fag a bode of spirits who are disturbed by the felling of the 
spirits. trees and will take vengeance. 2 The Parahiya, a Dravidian 
tribe of Mirzapur, think that evil spirits live in the sdl, pipal, 
and mahua trees ; they make offerings to such trees and will 
not climb into their branches. 3 In Travancore demons are 
supposed to reside in certain large old trees, which it would 
be sacrilegious and dangerous to hew down. A rough stone 
is generally placed at the foot of one of these trees as an 
image or emblem, and turmeric powder is rubbed on it. 4 
Some of the Western tribes of British New Guinea dread 
certain female devils who inhabit large trees and are very 
dangerous. Trees supposed to be the abode of these demons 
are treated with much respect and never cut down. 5 Near 
Old Calabar there is a ravine full of the densest and richest 
vegetation, whence a stream of limpid water flows purling to 
the river. The spot was considered by a late king to be 
hallowed ground, the residence of Anansa, the tutelary god 
of Old Calabar. The people had strict orders to revere the 
grove, and no branch of it might be cut. 6 Among the 
Bambaras of the Upper Niger every village has its sacred 
tree, generally a tamarind, which is supposed to be the abode 
of the fetish and is carefully preserved. The fetish is con- 
sulted on every important occasion, and sacrifices of sheep, 
dogs, and fowls, accompanied with offerings of millet and 
fruits, are made under the sacred tree. 7 In the deserts of 
Arabia a modern traveller found a great solitary acacia-tree 
which the Bedouin believed to be possessed by a jinnee. 
Shreds of cotton and horns of goats hung among the boughs 
and nails were knocked into the trunk. An Arab strongly 
dissuaded the traveller from cutting a branch of the tree, 

1 W. Crooke, Popular Religion and 4 S. Mateer, The Land of Charity 
Folk-lore of Northern India (West- (London, 1871), p. 206. 

minster, 1896), ii. 91. 6 3. A. Hely, in Annual Report on 

2 A. Bastian, Die Vblker des ostlichen British New Guinea for 1894-95, p. 
Asien, i. 134. The authority quoted 57. 

by Bastian calls the people Curka T. J. Hutchinson, Impressions of 

Coles. As to the Larka Kols, see Western Africa (London, 1858), pp. 

E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethnology of \ 30 sq, 

Bengal, pp. 177 sqq , 7 Gallieni, " Mission dans le Haut 

W. Crooke, Tribes and Castes of Niger et a Segou," Suttettn de la Sociftt 

the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, de GJographie (Paris), viiime Serie, 

lv - '30- v. (1883) pp. 577 sq. 


assuring him that it was death to do so. 1 The Yourouks, 
who inhabit the southern coasts of Asia Minor and the heights 
of Mount Taurus, have sacred trees which they never cut 
down from fear of driving away the spirits that own them. 2 
The old Prussians believed that gods inhabited tall trees, 
such as oaks, from which they gave audible answers to 
enquirers ; hence these trees were not felled, but worshipped 
as the homes of divinities. Amongst the trees thus venerated 
by them was the elder-tree. 3 The Samagitians thought 
that if any one ventured to injure certain groves, or the 
birds or beasts in them, the spirits would make his hands 
or feet crooked. 4 Down to the nineteenth century the 
Esthonians stood in such awe of many trees, which they 
considered as the seat of mighty spirits, that they would 
not even pluck a flower or a berry on the ground where the 
shadow of the trees fell, much less would they dare to break 
a branch from the tree itself. 5 

Even where no mention is made of wood-spirits, we sacred 
may generally assume that when trees or groves are sacred s roves - 
and inviolable, it is because they are believed to be either 
inhabited or animated by sylvan deities. In Central India 
the bar tree (Ficus Indicd] and the pipal (Ficus religiosa) 
are sacred, and every child learns the saying that " it is better 
to die a leper than pluck a leaf of a pipal, and he who can 
wound a bar will kick his little sister." 6 In Livonia there 
is a sacred grove in which, if any man fells a tree or breaks 
a branch, he will die within the year. 7 The Wotyaks have 

1 Ch. M. Doughty, Travels in 1684), p. 1 20. Lasiczki's work has been 
Arabia Deserta (Cambridge, 1 888), i. reprinted by W. Mannhardt, in Magazin 
365. herausgegeben von der lettisch-lite- 

2 Th. Bent, " The Yourouks of Asia rdrischen Gesellschaft, xiv. 82 sqq. 
Minor," Journal of the Anthropological (Mitau, 1868). 

Institute, xx. (1891) p. 275. * Mathias Michov, in Simon Gry- 

3 Erasmus Stella, " De Borussiae naeus's Nevus Orbis regionum ac insu- 
antiquitatibus," in Simon Grynaeus's /arum veteribus incognitarum (Paris, 
Novus Orbis regionum ac insularum 1532), p. 457- 

veteribus incognitarum (Paris, 1532), 6 J. G. Kohl, Die deutsch-russischen 

p. 510; J. Lasicius (Lasiczki), ' De Ostseeprovinzen (Dresden and Leipsic, 

diis Samagitarum caeterorumque Sar- 1841), ii. 277. 

matarum," in Respublica sive Status 6 Capt. E. C. Luard, in Census of 

regni Poloniae, Lituaniae, Prussiae, India, jyof, xix. (Lucknow, 1902) 

Livoniae, etc. (Leyden, 1627), pp. p. 76. 

299 sq. ; M. C. Hartknoch, Alt und 7 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie* i. 

neites Preussen (Frankfort and Leipsic, 497 ; compare id. ii. 540, 541. 


sacred groves. A Russian who ventured to hew a tree in 
one of them fell sick and died next day. 1 The heathen 
Cheremiss of South-Eastern Russia have sacred groves, and 
woe to him who dares to fell one of the holy trees. If the 
author of the sacrilege is unknown, they take a cock or a 
goose, torture it to death and then throw it on the fire, while 
they pray to the gods to punish the sinner and cause him 
to perish like the bird. 2 Near a chapel of St. Ninian, in the 
parish of Belly, there stood more than a century and a half 
ago a row of trees, " all of equal size, thick planted for about 
the length of a butt," which were " looked upon by the 
superstitious papists as sacred trees, from which they reckon 
it sacriledge to take so much as a branch or any of the 
fruit." J So in the island of Skye some two hundred and 
fifty years ago there was a holy lake, " surrounded by a fair 
wood, which none presumes to cut " ; and those who ventured 
to infringe its sanctity by breaking even a twig either 
sickened oh the spot or were visited afterwards by " some 
signal inconvenience." 4 Sacrifices offered at cutting down 
trees are doubtless meant to appease the wood-spirits. In 
Gilgit it is usual to sprinkle goat's blood on a tree of any 
kind before felling it. 6 The Akikuyu of British East 
Africa hold the mugumu or mugomo tree, a species of 
fig, sacred on account of its size and fine appearance ; 
hence they do not ruthlessly cut it down like all other 
trees which cumber a patch of ground that is to be 
cleared for tillage. Groves of this tree are sacred. In 
them no axe may be laid to any tree, no branch broken, 
no firewood gathered, no grass burnt ; and wild animals 
which have taken refuge there may not be molested. In 
these sacred groves sheep and goats are sacrificed and 
prayers are offered for rain or fine weather or in behalf 
of sick children. The whole meat of the sacrifices is 
left in the grove for God (Ngai) to eat ; the fat is placed 
in a cleft of the trunk or in the branches as a tit-bit for 

1 Max Buch, Die Wotjaktn (Stutt- tions of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1834), 
gait, 1882), p. 124. p. 400. 

2 P. v. Stenin, " Ein neuer Beitrag . . 

zur Ethnographic der Tscheretnissen," J' G< Dal y e11 ' hc ' Clt ' 

Globus, Iviii. (1890) p. 204. J. Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo 

3 J. G. Dalyell, Darker Supersti- Koosh, p. 116. 



him. He lives up in the boughs but comes down to 
partake of the food. 1 

2. Beneficent Powers of Tree- Spirits 

When a tree comes to be viewed, no longer as the body Transition 
of the tree-spirit, but simply as its abode which it can quit of . t ^' 

* * spirit into 

at pleasure, an important advance has been made in religious anthropo- 
thought. Animism is passing into polytheism. In other 
words, instead of regarding each tree as a living and conscious woods, 
being, man now sees in it merely a lifeless, inert mass, 
tenanted for a longer or shorter time by a supernatural 
being who, as he can pass freely from tree to tree, thereby 
enjoys a certain right of possession or lordship over the 
trees, and, ceasing to be a tree -soul, becomes a forest god. 
As soon as the tree-spirit is thus in a measure disengaged 
from each particular tree, he begins to change his shape and 
assume the body of a man, in virtue of a general tendency 
of early thought to clothe all abstract spiritual beings in 
concrete human form. Hence in classical art the sylvan 
deities are depicted in human shape, their woodland character 
being denoted by a branch or some equally obvious symbol. 2 
But this change of shape does not affect the essential 
character of the tree-spirit. The powers which he exercised 
as a tree-soul incorporate in a tree, he still continues to 
wield as a god of trees. This I shall now attempt to prove 
in detail. I shall shew, first, that trees considered as animate 
beings are credited with the power of making the rain to fall, 
the sun to shine, flocks and herds to multiply, and women 
to bring forth easily ; and, second, that the very same powers 
are attributed to tree-gods conceived as anthropomorphic 
beings or as actually incarnate in living men. 

First, then, trees or tree-spirits are believed to give rain 

1 H. R. Tate, " Further Notes on the Roman wood-god, see H. Jordan 
the Kikuyu Tribe of British East in L. Preller's Rbmische Mythologic? i. 
Africa, " Journal of the Anthropological 393 note ; A. Baumeister, Denkmdler 
Institute, xxxiv. (1904) p. 263; id. des classischen Altertums, iii. 1665 sq. 
"The Native Law of the Southern A good representation of Silvanus bear- 
Gikuyu of Brjtish East Africa, "Journal ing a pine branch is given in the Sale 
of the African Society, No. 35 (April Catalogue of H. Hoffmann, Paris, 
1910), pp. 242 sq. 1888, pt. ii. 

2 On the representations of Silvanus, 

4 6 



Trees and sunshine. When the missionary Jerome of Prague was 
supposed p ersuac jing the heathen Lithuanians to fell their sacred 
rain'and groves, a multitude of women besought the Prince of 
sunshine. Lithuania to stop him, saying that with the woods he was 
destroying the house of god from which they had been wont 
to get rain and sunshine. 1 The Mundaris in Assam think 
that if a tree in the sacred grove is felled the sylvan gods 
evince their displeasure by withholding rain. 2 In order to 
procure rain the inhabitants of Monyo, a village in the 
Sagaing district of Upper Burma, chose the largest tamarind- 
tree near the village and named it the haunt of the spirit 
(naf) who controls the rain. Then they offered bread, coco- 
nuts, plantains, and fowls to the guardian spirit of the village 
and to the spirit who gives rain, and they prayed, " O Lord 
nat have pity on us poor mortals, and stay not the rain. 
Inasmuch as our offering is given ungrudgingly, let the rain 
fall day and night." Afterwards libations were made in 
honour of the spirit of the tamarind-tree ; and still later 
three elderly women, dressed in fine clothes and wearing 
necklaces and earrings, sang the Rain Song. 3 In Cambodia 
each village or province has its sacred tree, the abode of a 
spirit. If the rains are late the people sacrifice to the tree. 4 
In time of drought the elders of the Wakamba in East 
Africa assemble and take a calabash of cider and a goat to 
a baobab-tree, where they kill the goat but do not eat it. 5 
When Ovambo women go out to sow corn they take with 
them in the basket of seed two green branches of a particular 
kind of tree {Peltophorum africanum Sond.\ one of which 
they plant in the field along with the first seed sown. The 
branch is believed to have the power of attracting rain ; 
hence in one of the native dialects the tree goes by the 
name of the " rain-bush." 6 To extort rain from the tree- 

1 Aeneas Sylvius, Opera (Bale, 1571), 
p. 418 [wrongly numbered 420] ; com- 
pare Erasmus Stella, " De Borussiae 
antiquitatibus," in Novus Orbis regio- 
num ac insularum veteribus incogni- 
tarum, p. 510. 

2 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- 
logy of Bengal, p. 186. 

3 J. G. Scott and J. P. Hardiman, 
Gazetteer of Upper Burmah and the 

Shan States, Part II. vol. iii. (Rangoon, 
1901), pp. 63 sq. 

4 E. Aymonier, in Cochinchine fran- 
faise : excursions et reconnaissances, 
No. 16 (Saigon, 1883), pp. 175 sq. 

6 L. Decle, Three Years in Savage 
Africa (London, 1898), p. 489. 

6 H. Schinz, Deutsch - Siidwest 
Afrika, pp. 295 sq. 


spirit a branch is sometimes dipped in water, as we have 
seen above. 1 In such cases the spirit is doubtless supposed 
to be immanent in the branch, and the water thus applied to 
the spirit produces rain by a sort of sympathetic magic, 
exactly as we saw that in New Caledonia the rain-makers 
pour water on a skeleton, believing that the soul of the 
deceased will convert the water into rain. 2 There is hardly 
room to doubt that Mannhardt is right in explaining as a 
rain-charm the European custom of drenching with water 
the trees which are cut at certain popular festivals, as mid- 
summer, Whitsuntide, and harvest 3 

Again, tree-spirits make the crops to grow. Amongst Tree- 
the Mundaris every village has its sacred grove, and " the i^'"^ 
grove deities are held responsible for the crops, and are to make 
especially honoured at all the great agricultural festivals." 4 
The negroes of the Gold Coast are in the habit of sacrificing 
at the foot of certain tall trees, and they think that if one of 
these were felled all the fruits of the earth would perish. 5 
Before harvest the Wabondei of East Africa sacrifice a goat 
to the spirit that lives in baobab-trees ; the blood is poured 
into a hole at the foot of one of the trees. If the sacrifice 
were omitted the spirit would send disease and death among 
the people. 6 The Gallas dance in couples round sacred 
trees, praying for a good harvest. Every couple consists of 
a man and woman, who are linked together by a stick, of 
which each holds one end. Under their arms they carry 
green corn or grass. 7 Swedish peasants stick a leafy branch 
in each furrow of their corn-fields, believing that this will 
ensure an abundant crop. 8 The same idea comes out in the 
German and French custom of the Harvest-May. This is a The 
large branch or a whole tree, which is decked with ears of 
corn, brought home on the last waggon' from the harvest- 

1 See above, pp. 248, 250, 309. Marchais en Guinte, isles vot'sities, et 

2 Above, p. 284. Cayenne (Paris, I73'o), i. 338. 

3 W. Mannhardt, Baitmkultus (Ber- 6 O. Baumann, Usanibara und-seine 
lin, 1875), pp. 158, 159, 170, 197, Nachbargebiele (Berlin, 1891), p. 142. 
214, 351, 514. 7 C. E. X. Rochet d'Hericourt, 

4 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- Voyage sur la cdte orientate de la Mer 
logy of Bengal,'^. \ 88. Rouge dans k pays d'Adel et le royaume 

6 Villault, Relation des costes ap- de Choa (Paris, 1841), pp. 1 66 sq. 
pdttes Guinee (Paris, 1669), pp. 266 8 L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden 

sq. ; Labat, Voyage du chevalier des (London, 1870), p. 266. 

4 8 




like the 
May in 
India and 

field, and fastened on the roof of the farmhouse or of the 
barn, where it remains for a year. Mannhardt has proved 
that this branch or tree embodies the tree-spirit conceived as 
the spirit of vegetation in general, whose vivifying and fructi- 
fying influence is thus brought to bear upon the corn in 
particular. Hence in Swabia the Harvest-May is fastened 
amongst the last stalks of corn left standing on the field ; in 
other places it is planted on the corn-field and the last sheaf 
cut is attached to its trunk. 1 The Harvest-May of Germany 
has its counterpart in the eiresione of ancient Greece. 2 The 
eiresione was a branch of olive or laurel, bound about with 
ribbons and hung with a variety of fruits. This branch was 
carried in procession at a harvest festival and was fastened 
over the door of the house, where it remained for a year. 
The object of preserving the Harvest-May or the eiresione 
for a year is that the life-giving virtue of the bough may 
foster the growth of the crops throughout the year. By the 
end of the year the virtue of the bough is supposed to be 
exhausted and it is replaced by a new one. Following a 
similar train of thought some of the Dyaks of Sarawak are 
careful at the rice harvest to take up the roots of a certain 
bulbous plant, which bears a beautiful crown of white and 
fragrant flowers. These roots are preserved with the rice in 
the granary and are planted again with the seed-rice in the 
following season ; for the Dyaks say that the rice will not 
grow unless a plant of this sort be in the field. 3 

Customs like that of the Harvest-May appear to exist 
in India and Africa. At a harvest festival of the Lhoosai 
of South-Eastern India the chief goes with his people into 
the forest and fells a large tree, which is then carried into 
the village and set up in the midst. Sacrifice is offered, 
and spirits and rice are poured over the tree. The ceremony 
closes with a feast and a dance, at which the unmarried men 
and girls are the only performers. 4 Among the Bechuanas 
the hack-thorn is very sacred, and it would be a serious 
offence to cut a bough from it and carry it into the village 

1 W. Mannhaidt, Baumkultus, pp. 
190 sqq. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und 
Feldkulte (Berlin, 1877), pp. 212 sqq. 

8 H. Low, Sarawak, p. 274 ; id., 

in Journal of the Anthropological In- 
stitute, xxv. (1896) p. in. 

4 T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of 
South- Eastern India (London, 1870), 
p. 270. 


during the rainy season. But when the corn is ripe in the Customs 
ear the people go with axes, and each man brings home a ^ e 
branch of the sacred hack-thorn, with which they repair the May in 
village cattle-yard. 1 According to another authority, it is a [^ a and 
rule with the Bechuanas that "neither the hook-thorn rior 
the milk-tree must be cut down while the corn is on the 
ground, for this, they think, would prevent rain. When I 
was at Lattakoo, though Mr. Hamilton stood in much need 
of some milk-tree timber, he durst not supply himself till all 
the corn was gathered in." 2 Many tribes of South-Eastern 
Africa will not cut down timber while the corn is green, 
fearing that if they did so, the crops would be destroyed 
by blight, hail, or early frost. 3 The heathen Cheremiss, 
in the Russian Government of Kasan, will not fell trees, 
mow grass, or dig the ground while the corn is in bloom. 4 
Again, the fructifying power of the tree is put forth at seed- 
time as well as at harvest. Among the Aryan tribes of 
Gilgit, on the north-western frontier of India, the sacred tree 
is the Chili, a species of cedar (Juniperus excelsd}. At the 
beginning of wheat -sowing the people receive from the 
rajah's granary a quantity of wheat, which is placed in a 
skin mixed with sprigs of the sacred cedar. A large bonfire 
of the cedar wood is lighted, and the wheat which is to be 
sown is held over the smoke. The rest is ground and made 
into a large cake, which is baked on the same fire and given 
to the ploughman. 5 Here the intention of fertilising the 
seed by means of the sacred cedar is unmistakable. 

In all these cases the power of fostering the growth of Fertilising 
crops, and, in general, of cultivated plants, is ascribed to Attributed 
trees. The ascription is not unnatural. For the tree is the to trees. 

1 J. Mackenzie, Ten Years North of of the Punjaub no one is allowed to 
the Orange River (Edinburgh, 1871), cut grass or any green thing with an 
p. 385. iron sickle till the festival of the ripen- 

2 J. Campbell, Travels in South ing grain has been celebrated ; other- 
Africa, Second Journey (London, 1822), wise the field-god would be angry and 
ii. 203. send frost to destroy or injure the 

3 Rev. J. Macdonald, MS. notes; harvest (D. C. J. Ibbetson, Outlines of 
compare id., Light in Africa, p. 210 ; Panjab Ethnography, p. 121). 

id. , in Journal of the Anthropological * " Ueber die Religion der heid- 

Instittite, xx. (1891) p. 140. The nischen Tscheremissen im Gouverne- 

Nubas will not cut shoots of the nabac ment Kasan, " Zcitschrift fur allge meine 

(a thorn-tree) during the rainy season Erdkunde, N.F. iii. (1857) p. 150. 
(Missions Catholiques, xiv. (1882) p. 5 J. Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo 

460). Among some of the hill-tribes Koosh, pp. 103 sq. 



largest and most powerful member of the vegetable kingdom, 
and man is familiar with it before he takes to cultivating 
corn. Hence he naturally places the feebler and, to him, 
newer plant under the dominion of the older and more 

Tree- Again, the tree-spirit makes the herds to multiply and 

spirits blesses women with offspring. The sacred Chili or cedar of 

make herds ..... 

to multiply Gilgit was supposed to possess this virtue in addition to 
* o n ^J men that of fertilising the corn. At the commencement of 
forth. wheat-sowing three chosen unmarried youths, after under- 
going daily washing and purification for three days, used to 
start for the mountain where the cedars grew, taking with 
them wine, oil, bread, and fruit of every kind. Having 
found a suitable tree they sprinkled the wine and oil on it, 
while they ate the bread and fruit as a sacrificial feast. 
Then they cut off the branch and brought it to the village, 
where, amid general rejoicing, it was placed on a large 
stone beside running water. " A goat was then sacrificed, 
its blood poured over the cedar branch, and a wild dance 
took place, in which weapons were brandished about, and 
the head of the slaughtered goat was borne aloft, after 
which it was set up as a mark for arrows and bullet- 
practice. Every good shot was rewarded with a gourd full 
of wine and some of the flesh of the goat. When the flesh 
was finished the bones were thrown into the stream and a 
general ablution took place, after which every man went to 
his house taking with him a spray of the cedar. On arrival 
at his house he found the door shut in his face, and on his 
knocking for admission, his wife asked, ' What have you 
brought?' To which he answered, 'If you want children, 
I have brought them to you ; if you want food, I have 
brought it ; if you want cattle, I have brought them ; what- 
ever you want, I have it.' The door was then opened and 
he entered with his cedar spray. The wife then took some 
of the leaves, and pouring wine and water on them placed 
them on the fire, and the rest were sprinkled with flour and 
suspended from the ceiling. She then sprinkled flour on 
her husband's head and shoulders, and addressed him thus, 
4 Ai Shiri Bagerthum, son of the fairies, you have come from 
far ! ' Shiri Bagerthum, ' the dreadful king,' being the form 


of address to the cedar when praying for wants to be 
fulfilled. The next day the wife baked a number of cakes, 
and taking them with her, drove the family goats to the 
Chili stone. When they were collected round the stone, 
she began to pelt them with pebbles, invoking the Chili at 
the same time. According to the direction in which the 
goats ran off, omens were drawn as to the number and sex 
of the kids expected during the ensuing year. Walnuts 
and pomegranates were then placed on the Chili stone, the 
cakes were distributed and eaten, and the goats followed to 
pasture in whatever direction they showed a disposition to 
go. For five days afterwards this song was sung in all the 
houses : 

' Dread Fairy King, I sacrifice before you, 
How nobly do you stand! you have filled up my house ', 
You have brought me a wife when I had not one, 
Instead of daughters you have given me sons. 
You have shown me the ways of right, 
You have given me many children* " l 

Here the driving of the goats to the stone on which the Fertilising 
cedar had been placed is clearly meant to impart to them aurttmted 
the fertilising influence of the cedar. In Northern India the to trees. 
Emblica officinalis is a sacred tree. On the eleventh of the 
month Phalgun (February) libations are poured at the foot 
of the tree, a red or yellow string is bound about the trunk, 
and prayers are offered to it for the fruitfulness of women, 
animals, and crops. 2 Again, in Northern India the coco-nut 
is esteemed one of the most sacred fruits, and is called 
Sriphala, or the fruit of Sri, the goddess of prosperity. It is 
the symbol of fertility, and all through Upper India is kept 
in shrines and presented by the priests to women who desire 
to become mothers. 3 In the town of Qua, near Old Calabar, 
there used to grow a palm-tree which ensured conception to 
any barren woman who ate a nut from its branches. 4 In 

1 J. Biddulph, op. cit. pp. 1 06 sq. however, the object of the prayers is 

2 W. Crooke, Popular Religion and said to be the fruitfulness of the tree 
Folk-lore of Northern India (West- itself, not the fruitfulness of women, 
minster, 1896), ii. 102. See also Sir animals, and cattle. 

H. M. Elliot, Memoirs on the History, 3 w CrQok -, H , o6 
Folk-lore, and Distribution of the Races 

of 'the North- Western Provinces of 'India, * Th. J. Hutchinson, Impressions of 

edited by J. Beames, ii. 217, where, Western Africa, p. 128. 


of May- 
trees on 

Europe the May-tree or May-pole is apparently supposed to 
possess similar powers over both women and cattle. Thus 
in some parts of Germany on the first of May the peasants 
set up May -trees or May -bushes at the doors of stables 
influence and byres, one for each horse and cow ; this is thought to 
make the cows yield much milk. 1 Of the Irish we are told 
that " they fancy a green bough of a tree, fastened on May- 
day against the house, will produce plenty of milk that 
summer." 2 In Suffolk there was an old custom, observed 
in most farm-houses, that any servant who could bring in a 
branch of hawthorn in blossom on the first of May was 
entitled to a dish of cream for breakfast. 3 Similarly, " in 
parts of Cornwall, till certainly ten years ago, any child who 
brought to a dairy on May morning a piece of hawthorn in 
bloom, or a piece of fresh bracken, long enough to surround 
the earthenware bowl in which cream is kept, was given a 
bowl of cream." 4 On May Day English milkmaids used to 
dance with garlands on their pails. One May morning long 
ago Pepys on his way to Westminster saw many of them 
dancing thus to the music of a fiddle while pretty Nel 
Gwynne, in her smock sleeves and bodice, watched them 
from the door of her lodgings in Drury-lane. 5 

However in these and similar European customs it 
seems that the influence of the tree, bush, or bough is really 
protection protective rather than generative ; it does not so much fill 
witchcraft the udders of the cows as prevent them from being drained 
dry by witches, who ride on broomsticks or pitchforks through 
the air on the Eve of May Day (the famous Walpurgis 
Night) and make great efforts to steal the milk from the 
cattle. Hence the many precautions which the prudent 
herdsman must take to guard his beasts at this season from 
the raids of these baleful creatures. For example, on May 
morning the Irish scatter primroses on the threshold, keep a 

3 County Folk-lore: Suffolk, collected 
and edited by Lady Eveline Camilla 
Gurdon (London, 1893), p. 117. 

4 Mr. E. F. Benson, in a letter to 
the author dated December 15, 1892. 

6 Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, Esq., 
edited by Lord Braybrooke, Second 
Edition (London, 1828), ii. 209, 
under May 1st, 1667. 

or May- 
bush a 

1 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 
161 ; E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sit ten 
iind Gebrduche aus Schwaben, p. 397; 
A. Peter, Volksthiimliches aus Oster- 
reithisch-Schlesien, ii. 286. 

2 W. Camden, Britannia, ed. R. 
Gough (London, 1779), iii. 659. 
Camden's authority is Good, a writer 
of the sixteenth century. 


piece of red-hot iron on the hearth, or twine branches ofpre- 
whitethorn and mountain-ash or rowan about the door. To 


save the milk they cut and peel boughs of mountain-ash witchcraft 
(rowan), and bind the twigs round the milk-pails and the Day 1 * 7 
churn. 1 According to a writer of the sixteenth century, 
whose description is quoted by Camden, the Irish "account 
every woman who fetches fire on May-day a witch, nor will 
they give it to any but sick persons, and that with an 
imprecation, believing she will steal all the butter the next 
summer. On May day they kill all the hares they find 
among their cattle, supposing them the old women who 
have designs on the butter. They imagine the butter so 
stolen may be recovered if they take some of the thatch 
hanging over the door and burn it." 2 In the north-east of 
Scotland pieces of rowan-tree and woodbine, or of rowan 
alone, used to be placed over the doors of the cow-houses on 
May Day to keep the witches from the kine ; and a still 
better way of attaining the same object was to tie a cross of 
rowan-tree wood with a scarlet thread to each animal's tail. 3 
The Highlanders of Scotland believe that on Beltane eve, 
that is the night before May Day, the witches go about in 
the shape of hares and suck the milk from the cows. To 
guard against their depredations tar was put behind the ears 
of the cattle and at the root of the tail, and the house was 
hung with rowan-tree. 4 For the same reason the High- 
landers say that the peg of the cow-shackle and the handle 
and cross of the churn - staff should always be made of 
rowan, because that is the most potent charm against witch- 
craft. 5 In the Isle of Man on May Day,old style, people carried 
crosses of rowan in their hats and fastened May-flowers over 
their doors as a protection against elves and witches, and for 
the same purpose they tied crosses of rowan to the tails of 

1 Lady Wilde, Ancient Legends, 3 W. Gregor, Folk-lore of the North- 
Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of east of Scot land (London, 1881), p. 1 88. 
Ireland (London, 1887), i. 196^. If 4 J. G. Campbell, Witchcraft and 
an Irish housewife puts a ring of rowan- Second Sight in the Highlands and 
tree or quicken, as it is also called, on Islands of Scotland, p. 270, compare 
the handle of the churn-dash when she ib., pp. ^ sqq. 

is churning, no witch, can steal her . 6 J. G. Campbell, op. fit. pp. 1 1 sq. 

butter (P. W. Joyce, Social History of In Germany also the rowan-tree is a 

Ancient Ireland (London, 1903), i. charm against witchcraft (A. Wuttke, 

236^.)- Der deutsche Volksaberglaube? p. 106, 

2 W. Camden, loc. at. 145)- 



Pre. the cattle. Also women washed their faces in the dew early 
cautions on May morning in order to secure good luck, a fine com- 


witchcraft plexion, and immunity from witches. Further, the break 
on May o f ^y on t j iat morning was the signal for setting the 
Waipurgis ling or gorse on fire, which was done for the sake of burning 
Nlght- out the witches, who are wont to take the shape of hares. 
In some places, indeed, as in the Lezayre parish, the 
practice was to burn gorse in the hedge of every field to 
drive away the witches, who are still feared in the Isle of 
Man. 1 In Norway and Denmark branches of rowan are 
similarly used to protect houses and cattle-stalls against 
witches on Waipurgis Night, and there, too, it is thought 
that the churn-staff should be made of rowan. 2 In Germany 
a common way of keeping witches from the cattle on 
Waipurgis Night is to chalk up three crosses on the door of 
the cowhouse. 3 Branches of buckthorn stuck in the muck- 
heaps on the eve of May Day answer the same purpose. 4 In 
Silesia the precautions taken at this season against witches 
are many and various ; for example, pieces of buckthorn are 
nailed crosswise over the door of the cowhouse ; pitchforks 
and harrows, turned upside down, with the prongs pointing 
outwards, are placed at the doors ; and a sod of fresh turf 
from a meadow is laid before the threshold and strewed with 
marsh-marigolds. Before the witches can pass the threshold, 
they must count every blade of grass in the turf and every 
petal of the marigolds ; and while they are still counting the 
day breaks and their power is gone. For the same reason 
little birch-trees are set up at the house-door, because the 
witches cannot enter the house till they have counted all 
the leaves ; and before they have done the sum it is broad 

1 Sir John Rhys, "The Coligny Gebrduche und Marchen aus Westfalen, 
Calendar," Proceedings of the British ii. p. 154, 432, p. 155, 436; A. 
Academy, vol. iv. pp. 55 sq. of the Schleicher, Vb'lkstiimliches aus Sonnen- 
oflfprint. berg (Weimar, 1858), p. 139; A. Peter, 

2 A. Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers* ksthumliches aus Osterreuhisch- 
(Gutersloh, 1886), pp. 178 sq. ; W. S ' Me n . ( T PP a , u ' j! 8 ^?), 2 ^ ' 
Mannhardt,^Ja^^L(B e r- Elsd ^ S^gmtuck des Vngtlandes 

lin, i8$8), pp n so (Gera> I87I) ' P- 2IO; Reinsbei 'g- 


3 J. D. H. Temme, Die Volkssagen p. 210; P. Drechsler, Side, Branch 

der Altmark (Berlin, 1839), p. 85 ; E. und Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. (Leipsic, 

SommeT,Sa-en,AfarcAenuttJGel>rauf/ie 1903) p. 109. 

aus Sachsen und Thiiringen (Halle, 4 A. Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers? 

1846), p. 149 ; A. Kuhn, Sagen, p. 166. 


daylight, and they must flee away with the shadows. 1 On 
Walpurgis Night the Germans of Moravia put knives under 
the threshold of the cowhouse and twigs of birch at the door 
and in the muck-heap to keep the witches from the cows. 2 
For the same purpose the Bohemians at this season lay 
branches of gooseberry bushes, hawthorn, and wild rose-trees 
on the thresholds of the cowhouses, because the witches are 
caught by the thorns and can get no farther. 3 We now see 
why thorny trees and bushes, whether hawthorn, buckthorn, 
or what not, afford protection against witchcraft : they serve 
as prickly hedges through which the witches cannot force 
their way. But this explanation clearly does not apply to 
the mountain-ash and the birch. 

On the second of July some of the Wends used to set up influence 
an oak-tree in the middle of the village with an iron cock sp^tTon 
fastened to its top ; then they danced round it, and drove cattle 
the cattle round it to make them thrive. 4 Some of the ^ e n n d g s the 
Esthonians believe in a mischievous spirit called Metsik, Esthon- 
who lives in the forest and has the weal of the cattle in his Circassians 
hands. Every year a new image of him is prepared. On 
an appointed day all the villagers assemble and make a 
straw man, dress him in clothes, and take him to the common 
pasture-land of the village. Here the figure is fastened to 
a high tree, round which the people dance noisily. On 
almost every day of the year prayer and sacrifice are offered 
to him that he may protect the cattle. Sometimes the 
image of Metsik is made of a corn-sheaf and fastened to 
a tall tree in the wood. The people perform strange antics 
before it to induce Metsik to guard the corn and the cattle. 5 
The Circassians regard the pear - tree as the protector of 
cattle. So they cut down a young pear-tree in the forest, 
branch it, and carry it home, where it is adored as a 
divinity. Almost every house has one such pear-tree. In 
autumn, on the day of the festival, the tree is carried into 
the house with great ceremony to the sound of music and 

1 P. Drechsler, op. cit. i. 109 sq. * W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 
Compare A. Peter, loc, cit. 174. 

2 W. Muller, Beitrage surVolkskundc 6 J. B. Holzmayer, "Osiliana," 
der Deiitschen 'in AfaAren (Vienna and Vcrhandlungen dergelthrten Estnischen 
Olmiitz, 1893), p. 324. Gescllschaft zu Dorpat, vii. No. 2 

3 Reinsberg - Diiringsfeld, Fest - (Dorpat, 1872), pp. lOsq.; W. Mann- 
Kalender aus Bohtncn, p. 210. hardt, Baumkullus> pp. 407 sq. 


amid the joyous cries of all the inmates, who compliment it 
on its fortunate arrival. It is covered with candles, and a 
cheese is fastened to its top. Round about it they eat, drink, 
and sing. Then they bid the tree good-bye and take it 
back to the courtyard, where it remains for the rest of the 
year, set up against the wall, without receiving any mark of 
respect 1 

Tree- In the Tuhoe tribe of Maoris " the power of making 

eranfoff- women fruitful is ascribed to trees. These trees are asso- 
spring or dated with the navel-strings of definite mythical ancestors, 
delivery to as indeed the navel-strings of all children used to be hung 
women. upon them down to quite recent times. A barren woman had 
to embrace such a tree with her arms, and she received a 
male or a female child according as she embraced the east 
or the west side." 2 The common European custom of placing 
a green bush on May Day before or on the house of a beloved 
maiden probably originated in the belief of the fertilising power 
of the tree-spirit. 3 In some parts of Bavaria such bushes are 
set up also at the houses of newly-married pairs, and the 
practice is only omitted if the wife is near her confinement ; 
for in that case they say that the husband has " set up a May- 
bush for himself." 4 Among the South Slavonians a barren 
woman, who desires to have a child, places a new chemise 
upon a fruitful tree on the eve of St. George's Day. Next 
morning before sunrise she examines the garment, and if she 
finds that some living creature has crept on it, she hopes 
that her wish will be fulfilled within the year. Then she 

1 Potocki, Voyage dans les steps Beauquier, Les Afois en Franche-Comte 
ct Astrakhan et du Caucase (Paris, (Paris, 1900), pp. 69-72 ; F. Chapi- 
1829), i. 309. seau, Le Folk-lore de la Beauce et du 

2 W. Foy, in Archiv fur Religions- Perche (Paris, 1902), ii. 109-111 : for 
utissenschaft, x. (1907) p. 551. For Silesia, F. Tetzner, "Die Tschechen 
details of the evidence see W. H. und Mahrerin Schlesien,"G70.r,lxxviii. 
Goldie, M.D., " Maori Medical Lore," (1900) p. 340; P. Drechsler, Sitte, 
Transactions and Proceedings of the Brauch und Volksglaube in Schlesien, 
Neiu Zealand Institute, xxxvii. (1904) i. 112 sq. ; for Moravia, W. Miiller, 
PP- 93-95- Beitrdge zur VolksJnmde der Deutschen 

3 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. in Mdhren, p. 26 ; for Sardinia, R. 
163 sqq. To his authorities add for Tennant, Sardinia and its Resources 
France, A. Meyrac, Traditions, (Rome and London, 1885), pp. 185 j?. 
coutumes, legendes et conies des In Brunswick the custom is observed 
Ardennes, pp. 84 sqq. ; L. F. Sauve, at Whitsuntide (R. Andree, Braun- 
Folk-lore des Hautes- Vosges, pp. 131 schweiger Volkskunde, p. 248). 

sq.; Berenger-Feraud, Superstitions * Bavaria, Landes- und Vclkskunde 

t sun'irances, v. 309 sq. ; Ch. des Kdnigreichs Bayern, i. 373. 



puts on the chemise, confident that she will be as fruitful as 
the tree on which the garment has passed the night. 1 Among 
the Kara-Kirghiz barren women roll themselves on the ground 
under a solitary apple-tree, in order to obtain offspring. 2 
Some of the hill-tribes of India have a custom of marrying 
the bride and bridegroom to two trees before they are married 
to each other. For example, among the Mundas the bride 
touches with red lead a ma/izvd-tree, clasps it in her arms, 
and is tied to it ; and the bridegroom goes through a like 
ceremony with a mango-tree. 8 The intention of the custom 
may perhaps be to communicate to the newly-wedded pair 
the vigorous reproductive power of the trees. 4 Lastly, the 

1 F. S. Krauss, Volksglaube und re- 
ligioser Brauch der Siidslaven, p. 35. 

2 W. Radloff, Proben der Volks- 
litteratur der nordlichen Tiirkischen 
Stamme, v. 2 (St. Petersburg, 1885). 

3 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- 
logy of Bengal, p. 194 ; a similar 
custom is practised among the Kurmis, 
ibid., p. 319. Among the Mundas the 
custom seems now to have fallen into 
disuse (H. H. Risley, Tribes and 
Castes of Bengal : Ethnographic Glos- 
sary, ii. 1 02). 

4 The explanation has been suggested 
by Mr. W. Crooke (Journal of the An- 
thropological Institute, xxviii. (1899) 
p. 243). There are other facts, how- 
ever, which point to a different ex- 
planation, namely, that the practice 
is intended to avert possible evil con- 
sequences from bride or bridegroom. 
For example, "the superstition re- 
garding a man's third marriage, preva- 
lent in Barar and, I believe in other 
parts of India, is not despised by the 
Velamas. A third marriage is unlucky. 
Should a man marry a third wife, it 
matters not whether his former wives 
be alive or not, evil will befall either 
him or that wife. No father would 
give his girl to a man whose third wife 
she would be. A man therefore, who 
has twice entered the married state 
and wishes to mate yet once again, 
cannot obtain as a third wife any one 
\vho has both the wit and the tongue 
to say no ; a tree has neither, so to a 
tree he is married. I have not been 
able to discover why the tree, or rather 

shrub, called in Marathi ru't and in 
Hindustani niadar (Asclepias gigantea), 
is invariably the victim selected in 
Barar, nor do I know whether the 
shrub is similarly favoured in other 
parts of India. The ceremony consists 
in the binding of a mangal sutra round 
the selected shrub, by which the bride- 
groom sits, while turmeric-dyed rice 
(aksata} is thrown over both him and 
the shrub. This is the whole of the 
simple ceremony. He has gone through 
his unlucky third marriage, and any 
lady whom he may favour after this 
will be his fourth wife " (Captain 
Wolseley Haig, " Notes on the 
Veiama Caste in Barar, "Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, Ixx. part iii. 
(1901) p. 28). Again, the Vellalas of 
Southern India " observe a curious cus- 
tom (derived from Brahmans) with regard 
to marriage, which is not unknown in 
other communities. A man marrying 
a second wife after the death of his 
first has to marry a plantain tree, and 
cut it down before tying the tali, and,, 
in case of a third marriage, a man has 
to tie a tiili fiist to the trukkan (arka : 
CaJotropis gigantea) plant. The idea 
is that second and fourth wives do not 
prosper, and the tree and the plant are 
accordingly made to take their places " 
(Mr. Hemingway, quoted by E. Thur- 
ston; Castes and Tribes of Smtthetn India, 
vii. 387). Tying the talilo the bride is 
the common Hindoo symbol of marriage, 
like giving the ring with us. As to these 
Indian marriages to trees see further my 
Totemism and Exogamy, i. 32 sq., iv. 


Power of power of granting to women an easy delivery at child-birth 
gran/ * s ascribed to trees both in Sweden and Africa. In some 
women an districts of Sweden there was formerly a b&rdtr&d or guar- 
deiivery. dian-trcc (lime, ash, or elm) in the neighbourhood of every 
farm. No one would pluck a single leaf of the sacred tree, 
any injury to which was punished by ill-luck or sickness. 
Pregnant women used to clasp the tree in their arms in 
order to ensure an easy delivery. 1 In some negro tribes of 
the Congo region pregnant women make themselves gar- 
ments out of the bark of a certain sacred tree, because they 
believe that this tree delivers them from the dangers that 
attend child-bearing. 2 The story that Leto clasped a palm- 
tree and an olive-tree or two laurel-trees, when she was about 
to give birth to the divine twins Apollo and Artemis, per- 
haps points to a similar Greek belief in the efficacy of 
certain trees to facilitate delivery. 3 

210 sqq. ; Panjab Notes and Queries, minster, 1896), ii. 115-121. I was 

ii. 252, iii. 12, 90, 562, iv. 396 ; formerly disposed to connect the 

North Indian Notes and Queries, i. custom with totemism, but of this 

no; D. C. J. Ibbetson, Settlement there seems to be no sufficient evi- 

Report of the Karnal District, p. 155 ; dence. 

H. H. Risley, Tribes and Castes of * W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 

Bengal, i. 531 ; Capt. E. C. Luard, 51 sq. 

in Census of India, igoi, vol. xix. 76; 2 Merolla, "Voyage to Congo," in 

VV. Crooke, Tribes and Castes of the Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, xvi. 

North-Western Provinces and Ondh, 236^. 

ii. 363; id., Popular Religion and 3 C. Botticher, Der Baumkultus der 

Folk-lore of Northern India (West- Hellenen (Berlin, 1856), pp. 30 sq. 



FROM the foregoing review of the beneficent qualities com- May-trees 
monly ascribed to tree-spirits, it is easy to understand why m Eur P e ' 
customs like the May-tree or May-pole have prevailed so 
widely and figured so prominently in the popular festivals 
of European peasants. In spring or early summer or even 
on Midsummer Day, it was and still is in many parts of 
Europe the custom to go out to the woods, cut down a tree 
and bring it into the village, where it is set up amid general 
rejoicings ; or the people cut branches in the woods, and 
fasten them on every house. The intention of these customs 
is to bring home to the village, and to each house, the 
blessings which the tree-spirit has in its power to bestow. 
Hence the custom in some places of planting a May-tree 
before every house, or of carrying the village May-tree from 
door to door, that every household may receive its share of 
the blessing. Out of the mass of evidence on this subject 
a few examples may be selected. 

Sir Henry Piers, in his Description of Westmeath, writing May-trees 
in 1682 says: "On May-eve, every family sets up before ^fhes^in 
their door a green bush, strewed over with yellow flowers, England, 
which the meadows yield plentifully. In countries where 
timber is plentiful, they erect tall slender trees, which stand 
high, and they continue almost the whole year ; so as a 
stranger would go nigh to imagine that they were all signs 
of ale-sellers, and that all houses were ale-houses." J In 
Northamptonshire a young tree ten or twelve feet high used 
to be planted before each house on May Day so as to appear 

1 Quoted by J. Brand, Popular Antiquities^ i. 246 (ed. Bohn). 


growing ; flowers were thrown over it and strewn about the 
door. 1 " Among ancient customs still retained by the 
Cornish, may be reckoned that of decking their doors and 
.porches on the first of May with green boughs of sycamore 
and hawthorn, and of planting trees, or rather stumps of 
trees, before their houses." 2 In the north of England it was 
formerly the custom for young people to rise a little after 
midnight on the morning of the first of May, and go out 
with music and the blowing of horns into the woods, where 
they broke branches and adorned them with nosegays and 
crowns of flowers. This done, they returned about sunrise 
and fastened the flower-decked branches over the doors and 
May windows of their houses. 3 At Abingdon in Berkshire young 
'" P eo pl e formerly went about in groups on May morning, 
singing a carol of which the following are two of the 
verses : 

" We've been rambling all the night, 

And sometime of this day ; 

And now returning back again, 

We bring a garland gay. 

A garland gay we bring you here ; 

And at your door we stand j 
It is a sprout well budded out, 

The work of our Lord's hand.'' 4 

At the towns of Saffron Walden and Debden in Essex 
on the first of May little girls go about in parties from door 
to door singing a song almost identical with the above and 
carrying garlands ; a doll dressed in white is usually placed 
in the middle of each garland. 5 Similar customs have 
been and indeed are still observed in various parts of 
England. The garlands are generally in the form of 
hoops intersecting each other at right angles. Thus on 
May morning the girls of the neighbouring villages used 
to flock into Northampton bringing their garlands, which 
they exhibited from house to house. The skeleton of 

1 T. F. Thiselton Dyer, British * T. F. Thiselton Dyer, Popular 
Popular Customs (London, 1876), p. British Customs, p. 233. 

254. 6 R. Chambers, Book of Days (Lon- 

2 W. Borlase, The Natural History don and Edinburgh, 1886), i. 578; 
of Corn-Mall (Oxford, 1758), p. 294. T. F. Thiselton Dyer, op. at. pp. 

3 J. Brand, op. cit. i. 212 sq. 237 sq. 


the garland was formed of two hoops of osier or hazel May 
crossing each other at right angles, and so twined with | a n rl ^"nd '" 
flowers and ribbons that no part of them could be seen. In 
the centre of the garlands were placed gaily dressed dolls, 
one, two, or three in number according to the size of the 
garland. The whole was fixed to a staff about five feet 
long, by which it was carried. In shewing their garlands 
the children chanted some simple ditties and received in 
return pennies, which furnished forth a feast on their return 
to their homes. A merry dance round the garland con- 
cluded the festivity. 1 At Uttoxeter groups of children carry 
garlands of flowers about the town on May Day. " The 
garlands consist of two hoops, one passing through the 
other, which give the appearance of four half-circles, and 
they are decorated with flowers and evergreens, and 
surmounted with a bunch of flowers as a sort of crown, 
and in the centre of the hoops is a pendant orange and 
flowers." One or more of the children carry a little pole 
or stick upright with a bunch of flowers fastened to the top. 
They are themselves decorated with flowers and ribbons, 
and receive pence from the houses which they visit. 2 At 
Watford in Hertfordshire, groups of children, almost entirely 
girls, go about the streets from door to door on May Day 
singing some verses, of which two agree almost verbally 
with those which, as we have seen, are sung at Abingdon in 
Berkshire. They are dressed in white, and adorned with gay 
ribbons and sashes of many hues. " Two of the girls carry 
between them on a stick what they call ' the garland,' which 
in its simplest form, is made of two circular hoops, intersect- 
ing each other at right angles ; a more elaborate form has, 
in addition, smaller semicircles inserted in the four angles 
formed by the meeting of the hoops at the top of ' the gar- 
land.' These hoops are covered with any wild-flowers in 
season, and are further ornamented with ribbons. The 

1 W. Hone, Every Day Book (Lon- sung at Abingdon in Berkshire. See 

don, N.U.), ii. 615 sq. ; T. F. Thisel- Dyer, op. tit. pp. 255 sq. The same 

ton Dyer, British Popular Customs, verses were formerly sung on May Day 

pp. 251 sq. -At Polebrook in North- at Hitchin in Hertfordshire (Hone, 

amptonshire the verses sung by the Every Day Book, \. 567 sf. ; Dyer, 

children on their rounds include two op. cit. pp. 240 sj.). 
which are almost identical with those * Dyer, of>. cit. p. 263. 


May ' garland ' in shape reminds me of the ' Christmas ' which 
garlands m ^ ^ Q { orm t j ie ce htre of the Christmas decorations in 


Yorkshire some few years ago, except that the latter had a 
bunch of mistletoe inside the hoops." l A similar custom 
was observed at Bampton-in-the-Bush in Oxfordshire down 
to about the middle of the nineteenth century. The 
garland consisted of two crossed hoops covered with 
moss, flowers, and ribbons. Two girls, known as the 
Lady and her Maid, bore the garland between them on a 
stick ; and a boy called the Lord, who carried a stick 
dressed with ribbons and flowers, collected contributions 
from the spectators. From time to time the Lady sang a 
few lines and was then kissed by the Lord. 2 At Sevenoaks 
in Kent the children carry boughs and garlands from door 
to door on May Day. The boughs consist of sticks carried 
upright with bunches of leaves and wild-flowers fastened to 
the top. The garlands are formed of two hoops interlaced 
cross-wise and covered with blue and yellow flowers from the 
woods and hedges. Sometimes the garlands are fastened to 
the end of a stick carried perpendicularly, sometimes they 
hang from the middle of a stick borne horizontally by two 
children. 3 In the streets of Cambridge little girls regularly 
make their appearance every May Day with female dolls 
enclosed in hoops, which are covered with ribbons and 
flowers. These they shew to passers-by, inviting them to 
remember the May Lady by paying a small sum to her 
bearers. 4 At Salisbury girls go through the streets on May 
Day in pairs, carrying between them on a stick a circular 
garland or hoop adorned with flowers and bows ; they visit 
the shops asking for money. A similar custom is observed 
at Wilton a few miles from Salisbury. 5 At Cawthorne in 
Yorkshire " on the first of May the school-children came with 
hoops to beg for artificial flowers ; these my mother's maid 

1 Percy Manning, in Folk-lore, iv. 4 W. H. D. Rouse, in Folk-lore, iv. 

(1893) pp. 403 sq. (1893) p. 53. I have witnessed the 

8 Id., in Folk-lore, viii. (1897) p. ceremony almost annually for many 

308. Customs of the same sort are years. Many of the hoops have no 

reported also from Combe, Headington, doll, and ribbons or rags of coloured 

and Islip, all in Oxfordshire (Dyer, cloth are more conspicuous than 

British. Popular Customs, pp. 261 sq.). flowers in their decoration. 

See below, pp. 90 sq. * J. P. Emslie, in Folk-lore, xi. 

8 Dyer, op. cit. p. 243. (1900) p. 210. 


used to sew on to the hoops, which with ribbons and other 
decorations, were used in decking out a tall May-pole planted 
in the village." 3 It appears that a hoop wreathed with 
rowan and marsh marigold, and bearing suspended within it 
two balls, is still carried on May Day by villagers in some 
parts of Ireland. The balls, which are sometimes covered 
with gold and silver paper, are said to have originally 
represented the sun and moon. 2 

In some villages of the Vosges Mountains on the first May 
Sunday of May young girls go in bands from house to house, ^n 5 ' 
singing a song in praise of May, in which mention is made of Germany, 
the " bread and meal that come in May." If money is given Greece, 
them, they fasten a green bough to the door ; if it is refused, 
they wish the family many children and no bread to feed them. 8 
In the French department of Mayenne, boys who bore the 
name of Maillotins used to go about from farm to farm on 
the first of May singing carols, for which they received 
money or a drink ; they planted a small tree or a 
branch of a tree. 4 Among the Germans of Moravia on 
the third Sunday before Easter, which goes by the 
name of Laetare Sunday, it is customary in some places 
for young girls to carry a small fir-tree about from door 
to door, while they sing songs, for which they receive 
presents. The tree is tricked out with many- coloured 
ribbons, and sometimes with flowers and dyed egg- 
shells, and its branches are twined together so as to 
form what is called a crown. 5 In Corfu the children go 
about singing May songs on the first of May. The boys 
carry small cypresses adorned with ribbons, flowers, and the 
fruits of the season. They receive a glass of wine at each 

1 Memoirs of Anna Maria Wilhcl- and moon, together with a number of 
mina Pickering, edited by her son, smaller globes which stood for the 
Spencer Pickering (London, 1903), stars. See Proclus, quoted by Photius, 
pp. 1 60 sq, Bibliotheca, p. 321, ed. Bekker. 

2 Lady Wilde, Ancient Cures, s E> Cortet , Essai sur les files re- 
Charms, and Usages of Ireland (Lon- Kgieuus (Pa ris, 1867) pp. 167 sqq. 
don, 1890), pp. 10 1 sq. At the ancient 

Greek festival of the Daphnephoria or 4 & <*** traditions populates, 

"Laurel-bearing "a staff of olive- wood, ( l88 7) P- 2O - 

decked with laurels, purple ribbons, * W. Miiller, Beitrdge zur Volks- 

and many-coloured flowers, was carried kunde der Deutschen in Mdhren (Wien 

in procession, and attached to it were und Olmiitz, 1893), PP- 3'9 *?-> 3SS~ 

two large globes representing the sun 359. 


house. The girls carry nosegays. One of them is dressed 
up like an angel, with gilt wings, and scatters flowers. 1 
Whitsun- On the Thursday before Whitsunday the Russian 

tide villagers " go out into the woods, sing songs, weave gar- 

customs in , , . . , . , . .. 

Russia. lands, and cut down a young birch-tree, which they dress 

up in woman's clothes, or adorn with many-coloured shreds 
and ribbons. After that comes a feast, at the end of which 
they take the dressed-up birch-tree, carry it home to their 
village with joyful dance and song, and set it up in one of 
the houses, where it remains as an honoured guest till Whit- 
sunday. On the two intervening days they pay visits to 
the house where their c guest ' is ; but on the third day, 
Whitsunday, they take her to a stream and fling her into 
its waters," throwing their garlands after her. " All over 
Russia every village and every town is turned, a little before 
Whitsunday, into a sort of garden. Everywhere along the 
streets the young birch-trees stand in rows, every house and 
every room is adorned with boughs, even the engines upon 
the railway are for the time decked with green leaves." 2 
In this Russian custom the dressing of the birch in 
woman's clothes shews how clearly the tree is personified ; 
and the throwing it into a stream is most probably a rain- 
charm. In some villages of Altmark it was formerly the 
custom for serving-men, grooms, and cowherds to go from 
farm to farm at Whitsuntide distributing crowns made of 
birch branches and flowers to the farmers ; these crowns 
were hung up in the houses and left till the following 
year. 3 

May-trees In the neighbourhood of Zabern in Alsace bands of 
inland P e P^ e about carrying May-trees. Amongst them is a 

Sweden, man dressed in a white shirt, with his face blackened ; in 
front of him is carried a large May-tree, but each member of 
the band also carries a smaller one. One of the company 
bears a huge basket in which he collects eggs, bacon, and 
so forth. 4 In some parts of Sweden on the eve of May Day 
lads go about carrying each a bunch of fresh-gathered birch 
twigs, wholly or partially in leaf. With the village fiddler at 

Folk-lore, i. (1890) pp. 518 sqq. 3 A. Kuhn, Mdrkische Sagen und 

2 W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the Mdrchen (Berlin, 1843), p. 315. 

Russian People 2 (London, 1872), pp. W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 

234^- 162. 


their head, they make the round of the houses singing May 
songs ; the burden of their songs is a prayer for fine weather, a 
plentiful harvest, and worldly and spiritual blessings. One of 
them carries a basket in which he collects gifts of eggs and 
the like. If they are well received they stick a leafy twig in 
the roof over the cottage door. 1 

But in Sweden midsummer is the season when these Mid- 
ceremonies are chiefly observed. On the Eve of St. John 
(the twenty - third of June) the houses are thoroughly poles in 
cleansed and garnished with green boughs and flowers. Sv 
Young fir-trees are raised at the doorway and elsewhere 
about the homestead ; and very often small umbrageous 
arbours are constructed in the garden. In Stockholm 
on this day a leaf- market is held at which thousands 
of May -poles (Maj St&nger), from six inches to twelve 
feet high, decorated with leaves, flowers, slips of coloured 
paper, gilt egg-shells strung on reeds, and so on, are ex- 
posed for sale. Bonfires are lit on the hills, and the people 
dance round them and jump over them. But the chief event 
of the day is setting up the May-pole. This consists of a 
straight and tall spruce-pine tree, stripped of its branches. 
" At times hoops and at others pieces of wood, placed cross- 
wise, are attached to it at intervals ; whilst at others it is 
provided with bows, representing, so to say, a man with his 
arms akimbo. From top to bottom not only the ' Maj 
Stang ' (May-pole) itself, but the hoops, bows, etc., are orna- 
mented with leaves, flowers, slips of various cloth, gilt egg- 
shells, etc. ; and on the top of it is a large vane, or it may 
be a flag." The raising of the May-pole, the decoration of 
which is done by the village maidens, is an affair of much 
ceremony ; the people flock to it from all quarters, and dance 
round it in a great ring. 2 Midsummer customs of the same 
sort used to be observed in some parts of Germany. Thus 
in the towns of the Upper Harz Mountains tall fir-trees, 
with the bark peeled off their lower trunks, were set up in 
open places and decked with flowers and eggs, which were 
painted yellow and red. Round these trees the young folk 
danced by day and the old folk in the evening. Many 

1 L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden, 2 L. Lloyd, op. cit. pp. 257 sqq. 

P- 235- 



people disguised themselves, and dramatic representations 
were given, amongst others mock executions, at which the 
sufferer's hat was knocked off instead of his head. At the 
village of Lerbach in these fir-clad mountains children would 
gather together on Midsummer Day, each with a tiny fir- 
tree, which they made to revolve from left to right in the 
direction of the sun, while they sang " The maiden turned 
herself about," or " Oh, thou dear Summertime ! Oh, thou 
dear Summertime ! " l In some parts of Bohemia also a 
May-pole or midsummer-tree is erected on St. John's Eve. 
The lads fetch a tall fir or pine from the wood and set it up 
on a height, where the girls deck it with nosegays, garlands, 
and red ribbons. It is afterwards burned. 2 

village it W ould be needless to illustrate at length the custom, 

in England, which has prevailed in various parts of Europe, such as 
England, France, and Germany, of setting up a village May- 
tree or May -pole on May Day. 3 A few examples will 
suffice. The puritanical writer Phillip Stubbes in his 
Anatomie of Abuses, first published at London in 1583, 
has described with manifest disgust how they used to bring 
in the May -pole in the days of good Queen Bess. His 
description affords us a vivid glimpse of merry England in 
the olden time. " Against May, Whitsonday, or other time, 
all the yung men and maides, olde men and wives, run 
gadding over night to the woods, groves, hils, and mountains, 
where they spend all the night in plesant pastimes ; and in 
the morning they return, bringing with them birch and 
branches of trees, to deck their assemblies withall. And no 
mervaile, for there is a great Lord present amongst them, as 
superintendent and Lord over their pastimes and sportes, 
namely, Sathan, prince of hel. But the cheifest jewel they 
bring from thence is their May-pole, which they bring home 

1 H. Prohle, Harzbilder (Leipsic, 308 sq. A fuller description of the 
I ^55)> PP- 1 9 s <2- Compare id., in ceremony will be given later. 
Zeitschrift fiir deutsche Mythologie und 3 For the evidence see J. Brand, 
Sittenkunde, i. (1853) pp. 81 sq. ; W. Popular Antiquities, i. 234 sqq.; W. 
Mannhardt, Gcrmanischt Mythen, pp. Hone, Every Day Book, i. 547 sqq., 
512 sqq. ; A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, ii. 574 sqq. ; R. Chambers, Book of 
Norddeutsche Sagen, Mdrchen und Ge- Days, i. 574 sqq. ; T. F. Thiselton 
brauche (Leipsic, 1848), p. 390, 80. Dyer, British Popular Customs, pp. 228 

2 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- sqq. ; W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, 
dar aui Bohmen (Prague, N.D.), pp. pp. 168 sqq. 


with great veneration, as thus. They have twentie or fortie Bringing 
yoke of oxen, every oxe having a sweet nose-gay of flouers 
placed on the tip of his homes, and these oxen drawe home 
this May-pole (this stinkyng ydol, rather), which is covered 
all over with floures and hearbs, bound round about with 
strings, from the top to the bottome, and sometime painted 
with variable colours, with two or three hundred men, 
women and children following it with great devotion. And 
thus beeing reared up, with handkercheefs and flags hover- 
ing on the top, they straw the ground rounde about, binde 
green boughes about it, set up sommer haules, bowers, and 
arbors hard by it. And then fall they to daunce about it, 
like as the heathen people did at the dedication of the 
Idols, whereof this is a perfect pattern, or rather the thing 
itself. I have heard it credibly reported (and that viva 
voce) by men of great gravitie and reputation, that of fortie, 
threescore, or a hundred maides going to the wood over 
night, there have scaresly the third part of them returned 
home againe undefiled." l Of the Cornish people their 
historian Borlase says : " From towns they make excursions, 
on May eve, into the country, cut down a tall elm, bring it 
into town with rejoicings, and having fitted a straight taper 
pole to the end of it, and painted it, erect it in the most 
publick part, and upon holidays and festivals dress it 
with garlands of flowers, or ensigns and streamers." 2 In 
Northumberland, down apparently to near the end of the 
eighteenth century, young people of both sexes used to go 
out early on May morning to gather the flowering thorn 
and the dew off the grass, which they brought home with 
music and acclamations ; then, having dressed a pole on the 
green with garlands, they danced about it. The dew was 
considered as a great cosmetic, and preserved the face from 
wrinkles, blotches, and the traces of old age. A syllabub 
made of warm milk from the cow, sweet cakes, and wine 
was prepared for the feast ; and a kind of divination, to 
discover who should be wedded first, was practised by 
dropping a marriage-ring into the syllabub and fishing for it 

1 Phillip Stubbes, The Anatomie of changes were made. 

Abuses, p. 149 (F. J. Furnivall's . 2 W. Borlase, Natural History of 
reprint). In later editions some verbal Cornwall (Oxford, 1758)^.294. 


with a ladle. 1 At Padstow in Cornwall, when shipbuilding 
was a thriving industry of the port, the shipwrights used to 
erect a tall May-pole at the top of Cross Street in the middle 
of a cross inlaid with stone. The pole was gaily decorated 
with spring flowers and so forth. But the custom has long 
been abandoned. A great feature of the celebration of May 
Day at Padstow used to be the Hobby Horse, that is, a man 
wearing a ferocious mask, who went dancing and singing 
before the chief houses, accompanied by a great flower- 
bedecked crowd of men and women, while the men fired 
pistols loaded with powder in all directions. 2 

village In Swabia on the first of May a tall fir-tree used to be 

Md 7 May- fetched into the village, where it was decked with ribbons 
poles in and set up ; then the people danced round it merrily to 
my ' music. The tree stood on the village green the whole 
year through, until a fresh tree was brought in next May 
Day. 8 In Saxony " people were not content with bringing 
the summer symbolically (as king or queen) into the village ; 
they brought the fresh green itself from the woods even into 
the houses : that is the May or Whitsuntide trees, which are 
mentioned in documents from the thirteenth century onwards. 
The fetching in of the May-tree was also a festival. The 
people went out into the woods to seek the May (majum 
quaerere\ brought young trees, especially firs and birches, 
to the village and set them up before the doors of the 
houses or of the cattle -stalls or in the rooms. Young 
fellows erected such May -trees, as we have already said, 
before the chambers of their sweethearts. Besides these 
household Mays, a great May-tree or May-pole, which had 
also been brought in solemn procession to the village, was 
set up in the middle of the village or in the market-place of 
the town. It had been chosen by the whole community, 
who watched over it most carefully. Generally the tree was 
stripped of its branches and leaves, nothing but the crown 
being left, on which were displayed, in addition to many- 
coloured ribbons and cloths, a variety of victuals such as 

1 W. Hutchinson, View of North- lore, xvi. (1905) pp. 59 sq. 
timberland (Newcastle, 1778), ii. 

Appendix, pp. 13 sq. ; Dyer, British. 3 E. Meier, Deutsche Sagcn, Sitten 

Popular Customs, p. 257. nnd Gebrduche aus Schwabcn (Stutt- 

1 "Padstow 'Hobby Hoss,' " Folk- gart, 1852), p. 396. 


sausages, cakes, and eggs. The young folk exerted them- May-poles 
selves to obtain these prizes. In the greasy poles which %*' 
are still to be seen at our fairs we have a relic of these old Germany 
May-poles. Not uncommonly there was a race on foot France, 
or on horseback to the May-tree a Whitsuntide pastime 
which in course of time has been divested of its goal and 
survives as a popular custom to this day in many parts of 
Germany. In the great towns of our land the custom has 
developed into sport, for our spring races are in their origin 
nothing but the old German horse-races, in which the victor 
received a prize (generally a red cloth) from the hand of a 
maiden, while the last rider was greeted with jeers and gibes 
by the assembled community." l The custom of the May- 
tree is observed by the Wends of Saxony, as well as by 
the Germans. The young men of the village choose the 
slimmest and tallest tree in the wood, peel it and set it up 
on the village green. Its leafy top is decked with cloths 
and ribbons presented by the girls. Here it stands, tower- 
ing high above the roofs, till Ascension Day, or in many 
places till Whitsuntide. When it is being taken down, the 
young folk dance round it, and the youth who catches and 
breaks off the leafy crown of the falling tree is the hero of 
the day. Holding the green boughs aloft he is carried 
shoulder-high, with music and joyous shouts, to the ale- 
house, where the dance is resumed. 2 At Bordeaux on the 
first of May the boys of each street used to erect in it a 
May-pole, which they adorned with garlands and a great 
crown ; and every evening during the whole of the month 
the young people of both sexes danced singing about the 
pole. 8 Down to the present day May -trees decked with 
flowers and ribbons are set up on May Day in every village 
and hamlet of gay Provence. Under them the young folk 
make merry and the old folk rest. 4 The Red Karens of May-poles 
Upper Burma hold a festival in April, at which the chief ^ens of* 
ceremony is the erection of a post on ground set apart for Burma. 

1 E. Mogk, in R. Wuttke's Sack- traditions des provinces de France 
sische Volkskunde* (Dresden, 1901), pp. (Paris and Lyons, 1846), p. 137. 

309 sq. . 4 Be"renger-Feraud, Superstitions et 

2 M. Rentsch, in R. Wuttke's op. survivances (Paris, 1896), v. 308 sq. 
cit. p. 359. Compare id., Reminiscences populaires 

3 A. De Nore, Cotitumes, mythes et de la Provence , pp. 21 sy., 26, 27. 


the purpose in or near each village. A new post is set up 
every year ; the old ones are left standing, but are not 
renewed if they fall or decay. Omens are first drawn from 
chicken bones as to which tree will be the best to fell for 
the post, which day will be the luckiest, and so on. A 
pole some twenty or thirty feet long is then hewn from the 
tree and ornamented with a rudely carved capital. On the 
lucky day all the villagers assemble and drag the pole to 
the chosen spot. When it has been set up, the people 
dance " a rude sort of May-pole dance " to the music of 
drums and gongs. Much pork is eaten and much liquor 
drunk on this festive occasion. 1 

Permanent In all these cases, apparently, the custom is or was to 
day-poles. jj r j n g j n a new May-tree each year. However, in England 
the village May-pole seems as a rule, at least in later times, 
to have been permanent, not renewed annually. 2 Villages of 
Upper Bavaria renew their May-pole once every three, four, 
or five years. It is a fir-tree fetched from the forest, and 
amid all the wreaths, flags, and inscriptions with which it is 
bedecked, an essential part is the bunch of dark green foliage 
left at the top " as a memento that in it we have to do, not 
with a dead pole, but with a living tree from the greenwood." 3 
We can hardly doubt that originally the practice everywhere 
was to set up a new May-tree every year. As the object of 
the custom was to bring in the fructifying spirit of vegetation, 
newly awakened in spring, the end would have been defeated 
if, instead of a living tree, green and sappy, an old withered 
one had been erected year after year or allowed to stand 
permanently. When, however, the meaning of the custom 
had been forgotten, and the May-tree was regarded simply 
as a centre for holiday merry-making, people saw no reason 
for felling a fresh tree every year, and preferred to let the 
same tree stand permanently, only decking it with fresh 
flowers on May Day. But even when the May-pole had thus 
become a fixture, the need of giving it the appearance of 
being a green tree, not a dead pole, was sometimes felt. 
Thus at Weverham in Cheshire "are two May-poles, which 

1 J. G. Scott and J. P. Hardiman, 2 W. Hone, Every Day Book, i. 547 

Gazetteer of Upper Burma a>td the Shan sqq.; R. Chambers, BookofDays, i. 571. 

States, part i. vol. i. (Rangoon, 1900) 3 Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde 

P- 5 2 9- des Konigreichs Bayern, i. 372. 


are decorated on this day (May Day) with all due attention 
to the ancient solemnity ; the sides are hung with garlands, 
and the top terminated by a birch or other tall slender tree 
with its leaves on ; the bark being peeled, and the stem 
spliced to the pole, so as to give the appearance of one tree 
from the summit." 1 Thus the renewal of the May-tree is 
like the renewal of the Harvest-May ; 2 each is intended to 
secure a fresh portion of the fertilising spirit of vegetation, 
and to preserve it throughout the year. But whereas the 
efficacy of the Harvest-May is restricted to promoting the 
growth of the crops, that of the May-tree or May-branch 
extends also, as we have seen, to women and cattle. Lastly, The May- 
it is worth noting that the old May-tree is sometimes burned ^the^nd 
at the end of the year. Thus in the district of Prague of the y ear - 
young people break pieces of the public May-tree and place 
them behind the holy pictures in their rooms, where they 
remain till next May Day, and are then burned on the 
hearth. 3 In Wurtemberg the bushes which are set up on 
the houses on Palm Sunday are sometimes left there for a 
year and then burnt. 4 The eiresione (the Harvest-May of 
Greece) was perhaps burnt at the end of the year. 5 

So much for the tree-spirit conceived as incorporate or Tree-spirit 
immanent in the tree. We have now to shew that the tree- jj.^^ 
spirit is often conceived and represented as detached from tree and 
the tree and clothed in human form, and even as embodied I 
in living men or women. The evidence for this anthropo- form, 
morphic representation of the tree -spirit is largely to be 
found in the popular customs of European peasantry. These 
will be described presently, but before examining them we 
may notice an Esthonian folk-tale which illustrates the same 
train of thought very clearly. Once upon a time, so runs 
the tale, a young peasant was busy raking the hay in a 

1 W. Hone, Every Day Book, ii. 597 dar aus Bohrnen, p. 217; W. Mann- 
sq, Mr. G. W. Prothero tells me hardt, Baumkultus, p. 566. 

that about the year 1875 he saw a * A. Birlinger, Volksthiimliches aus 

permanent May - pole decked with Schwaben (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1 86 1- 

flowers on May Day on the road 1862), ii. 74 sf. ; W. Mannhardt, 

between Cambridge and St. Neot's, Baumkultus, p. 566. 

not far from the turning to Caxton. 8 Aristophanes, P/utus, 1054 ; W. 

2 See above, pp. 47 sg. Mannhardt, Anlike Wald- und Feld- 

3 Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld,/'/-A'a/(fw- kulte, pp. 222 sq. 


Esthonian meadow, when on the rim of the horizon a heavy thunder- 
story of a c i ou d loomed black and angry, warning him to make 
haste with his work before the storm should break. He 
finished in time, and was wending his way homeward, when 
under a tree he espied a stranger fast asleep. " He will be 
drenched to the skin," thought the good-natured young 
fellow to himself, " if I allow him to sleep on." So he 
stepped up to the sleeper and shaking him forcibly roused 
him from his slumber. The stranger started up, and at sight 
of the thunder- cloud, which now darkened the sky, he 
blenched, fumbled in his pockets, and finding nothing in 
them wherewith to reward the friendly swain, he said, " This 
time I am your debtor. But the time will come when I 
shall be able to repay your kindness. Remember what I 
tell you. You will enlist. You will be parted from your 
friends for years, and one day a feeling of homesickness will 
come over you in a foreign land. Then look up, and you 
will see a crooked birch-tree a few steps from you. Go to 
it, knock thrice on the trunk, and ask, ' Is the Crooked One 
at home ? ' The rest will follow." With these words the 
stranger hastened away and was out of sight in a moment. 
The peasant also went his way, and soon forgot all about 
the matter. Well, time went by and part of the stranger's 
prophecy came true. For the peasant turned soldier and 
served in a cavalry regiment for years. One day, when he 
was quartered with his regiment in the north of Finland, it 
fell to his turn to tend the horses while his comrades were 
roistering in the tavern. Suddenly a great yearning for 
home, such as he had never known before, came over the 
lonely trooper ; tears started to his eyes, and dear visions of 
his native land crowded on his soul. Then he bethought 
him of the sleeping stranger in the wood, and the whole 
scene came back to him as fresh as if it had happened 
yesterday. He looked up, and there, strange to tell, he was 
aware of a crooked birch-tree right in front of him. More 
in jest than in earnest he went up to it and did as the 
stranger had bidden him. Hardly had the words, " Is the 
Crooked One at home ? " passed his lips when the stranger 
himself stood before him and said, " I am glad you have 
come. I feared you had forgotten me. You wish to be at 


home, do you not ? " The trooper said yes, he did. Then 
the Crooked One cried into the tree, " Young folks, which 
of you is the fleetest?" A voice from the birch replied, 
"Father, I can run as fast as a moor-hen flies." "Well, I 
need a fleeter messenger to-day." A second voice answered, 
" I can run like the wind." " I need a swifter envoy," said 
the father. Then a third voice cried, " I can run like the 
thought of man." " You are after my own heart. Fill a 
bag full of gold and take it with my friend and benefactor 
to his home." Then he caught the soldier by the hat, crying, 
" The hat to the man, and the man to the house ! " The 
same moment the soldier felt his hat fly from his head. 
When he looked about for it, lo ! he was at home in the old 
familiar parlour wearing his old peasant clothes, and the 
great sack of money stood beside him. Yet on parade and 
at the roll-call he was never missed. When the man who 
told this story was asked, " Who could the stranger be?" he 
answered, "Who but a tree-elf?" 1 

There is an instructive class of cases in which the tree- Tree-spirit 
spirit is represented simultaneously in vegetable form and in sf^uTtane^ 
human form, which are set side by side as if for the express ously in 
purpose of explaining each other. In these cases the human 
representative of the tree-spirit is sometimes a doll or puppet, form - 
sometimes a living person ; but whether a puppet or a 
person, it is placed beside a tree or bough ; so that together 
the person or puppet, and the tree or bough, form a sort of 
bilingual inscription, the one being, so to speak, a translation 
of the other. Here, therefore, there is no room left for doubt 
that the spirit of the tree is actually represented in human 
form. Thus in Bohemia, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, 
young people throw a puppet called Death into the water ; 
then the girls go into the wood, cut down a young tree, and 
fasten to it a puppet dressed in white clothes to look like 
a woman ; with this tree and puppet they go from house 
to house collecting gratuities and singing songs with the 
refrain : 

1 Boeder -Kreutzwald, Der Ehstcn the return of the trooper to his old 

aberglaubische Gebrdiiche, Weisen und home was, like that of the war-broken 

Gewohnheiten, pp. 112-114. Some veteran in Campbell's poem, only a 

traits in this story seem to suggest that soldier's dream. 


" We carry Death out of the village, 
We bring Summer into the village." l 

Here, as we shall see later on, the " Summer " is the spirit 
of vegetation returning or reviving in spring. In some 
parts of our own country children go about asking for pence 
with some small imitations of May-poles, and with a finely- 
dressed doll which they call the Lady of the May. 2 In 
these cases the tree and the puppet are obviously regarded 
as equivalent. 

The Little At Thann, in Alsace, a girl called the Little May Rose, 
ose> dressed in white, carries a small May-tree, which is gay with 
garlands and ribbons. Her companions collect gifts from 
door to door, singing a song : 

" Little May Rose turn round three limes, 
Let us look at you round and round ! 
Rose of the May, come to the greenwood away, 
We will be merry all. 
So -we go from the May to the roses." 

In the course of the song a wish is expressed that those 
who give nothing may lose their fowls by the marten, that 
their vine may bear no clusters, their tree no nuts, their field 
no corn ; the produce of the year is supposed to depend on 
the gifts offered to these May singers. 3 Here and in the 
cases mentioned above, where children go about with green 
boughs or garlands on May Day singing and collecting money, 
the meaning is that with the spirit of vegetation they bring 
plenty and good luck to the house, and they expect to be 
paid for the service. In Russian Lithuania, on the first of 
May, they used to set up a green tree before the village. 
Then the rustic swains chose the prettiest girl, crowned 
.her, swathed her in birch branches and set her beside the 
May-tree, where they danced, sang, and shouted " O May ! 
O May ! " In Brie (Isle de France) a May-tree is set up 
in the midst of the village ; its top is crowned with flowers ; 
lower down it is twined with leaves and twigs, still lower, 
with huge green branches. The girls dance round it, and 

1 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- scribed above, p. 62. 

dar aus Bohmen, pp. 86 sqq. ; W. Mann- * W. Mannhardt, Baumkttltus, p. 

hardt, Baumkullus, p. 156. 312. 

2 R. Chambers, Book of Days, i. 573. 4 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 
Compare the Cambridge custom, de- 313. 


at the same time a lad wrapt in leaves and called Father The 
May is led about 1 In the small towns of the Franken Wald Walber - 
mountains in Northern Bavaria, on the second of May, a 
Walber tree is erected before a tavern, and a man dances 
round it, enveloped in straw from head to foot in such a 
way that the ears of corn unite above his head to form a 
crown. He is called the Walber, and used to be led in 
procession through the streets, which were adorned with 
sprigs of birch. 2 

Amongst the Slavs of Carinthia, on St. George's Day Green 
(the twenty-third of April), the young people deck with flowers 
and garlands a tree which has been felled on the eve of the 
festival. The tree is then carried in procession, accompanied 
with music and joyful acclamations, the chief figure in the pro- 
cession being the Green George, a young fellow clad from head 
to foot in green birch branches. At the close of the ceremonies 
the Green George, that is an effigy of him, is thrown into 
the water. It is the aim of the lad who acts Green George 
to step out of his leafy envelope and substitute the effigy so 
adroitly that no one shall perceive the change. In many 
places, however, the lad himself who plays the part of Green 
George is ducked in a river or pond, with the express 
intention of thus ensuring rain to make the fields and 
meadows green in summer. In some places the cattle are 
crowned and driven from their stalls to the accompaniment 
of a song : 

" Green George we bring, 

Green George we accompany, 

May he feed our herds well. 

If not, to the -water with hi?n." 3 

Here we see that the same powers of making rain and 
fostering the cattle, which are ascribed to the tree -spirit 
regarded as incorporate in the tree, are also attributed to the 
tree-spirit represented by a living man. 

Among the gypsies of Transylvania and Roumania the 

1 Ibid. p. 314. another form of the better known Wal- 

2 Bavaria, Landes- and Volkskunde purgis. The second of May is called 
des Konigreich's Baycrn, iii. 357 ; W. Walburgis Day, at least in this part of 
Mannhardt, Bauntkultits, pp. 312 sq. Bavaria. 

The word Walber probably comes from 3 W. Mannhardt, Baumkitltus, pp. 

Walburgis, which is doubtless only 313 sy. 



Geor s e 



among the 


festival of Green George is the chief celebration of spring. 
Some of them keep it on Easter Monday, others on St. 
George's Day (the twenty-third of April). On the eve of 
the festival a young willow tree is cut down, adorned with 
garlands and leaves, and set up in the ground. Women with 
child place one of their garments under the tree, and leave 
it there over night ; if next morning they find a leaf of the 
tree lying on the garment, they know that their delivery will 
be easy. Sick and old people go to the tree in the evening, 
spit on it thrice, and say, " You will soon die, but let us live." 
Next morning the gypsies gather about the willow. The chief 
figure of the festival is Green George, a lad who is concealed 
from top to toe in green leaves and blossoms. He throws a 
few handfuls of grass to the beasts of the tribe, in order that 
they may have no lack of fodder throughout the year. Then 
he takes three iron nails, which have lain for three days and 
nights in water, and knocks them into the willow ; after 
which he pulls them out and flings them into a running 
stream to propitiate the water-spirits. Finally, a pretence is 
made of throwing Green George into the water, but in fact 
it is only a puppet made of branches and leaves which is 
ducked in the stream. 1 In this version of the custom the 
powers of granting an easy delivery to women and of com- 
municating vital energy to the sick and old are clearly 
ascribed to the willow ; while Green George, the human 
double of the tree, bestows food on the cattle, and further 
ensures the favour of the water-spirits by putting them in 
indirect communication with the tree. 

An example of the double representation of the spirit 
^ ve g e tation by a tree and a living man is reported from 
Bengal. The Oraons have a festival in spring while the 
s ^-trees are in blossom, because they think that at this time 
the marriage of earth is celebrated and the sal flowers are 

,. , _, 

necessary for the ceremony. On an appointed day the 
villagers go with their priest to the Sarna, the sacred grove, 
a remnant of the old sal forest in which a goddess Sarna 
Burhi, or woman of the grove, is supposed to dwell. She is 
thought to have great influence on the rain ; and the priest 

1 H. von Wlislocki, Volksglaube und religioser Brauch der Zigeuwr (Munster 
i. W., 1891), pp. 148 sy. 


arriving with his party at the grove sacrifices to her five 
fowls, of which a morsel is given to each person present. 
Then they gather the sal flowers and return laden with them 
to the village. Next day the priest visits every house, 
carrying the flowers in a wide open basket. The women of 
each house bring out water to wash his feet as he approaches, 
and kneeling make him an obeisance. Then he dances with 
them and places some of the sal flowers over the door of 
the house and in the women's hair. No sooner is this done 
than the women empty their water-jugs over him, drenching 
him to the skin. A feast follows, and the young people, 
with sal flowers in their hair, dance all night on the village 
green. 1 Here, the equivalence of the flower-bearing priest to 
the goddess of the flowering tree comes out plainly. For 
she is supposed to influence the rain, and the drenching of 
the priest with water is, doubtless, like the ducking of the 
Green George in Carinthia and elsewhere, a rain -charm. 
Thus the priest, as if he were the tree goddess herself, goes 
from door to door dispensing rain and bestowing fruitfulness 
on each house, but especially on the women. In some parts Double 
of India the harvest-goddess Gauri, the wife of Siva, is repre- tf 
sented both by an unmarried girl and by a bundle of the harvest- 
wild flowering balsam plant touch-me-not (Impatiens sf>.\ cLirfby a 
which is tied up in a mummy-like figure with a woman's b " n die of 
mask, dress, and ornaments. Before being removed from the an un- 
soil to represent the goddess the plants are worshipped. arned 
The girl is also worshipped. Then the bundle of plants 
is carried and the girl who personates the goddess walks 
through the rooms of the house, while the supposed footprints 
of Gauri herself are imprinted on the floor with red paste. 
On entering each room the human representative of Gauri is 
asked, " Gauri, Gauri, whither have you come and what do 
you see ? " and the girl makes appropriate replies. . Then 
she is given a mouthful of sweets and the mistress of the 
house says, " Come with golden feet and stay for ever." The 
plant-formed effigy of Gauri is afterwards worshipped as the 
goddess herself and receives offerings of rice-cakes and pan- 
cakes. On' the third day it is thrown into a river or tank ; 
then a handful of pebbles or sand is brought home from the 

1 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, p. 261. 


spot and thrown all over the house and the trees to bring 
good luck to the house and to protect the trees from vermin. 
A remarkable feature of the ceremonies is that the goddess 
Gauri is supposed to be secretly followed by her husband 
Siva, who remains hidden under the fold of her garment and 
is represented by a lot A, covered by a coco-nut and filled with 
rice, which is carefully measured. After the image of Gauri 
has been thrown into the river or tank, the rice in the lota 
representing Siva is carefully measured again, in order to see 
whether the quantity has increased or decreased, and accord- 
ing to the result an abundant or a scanty harvest is prog- 
nosticated. 1 Hence it appears that the whole ritual aims at 
ensuring a plentiful crop of rice. In this case the spirit of 
vegetation thus represented in duplicate by a living girl and 
the effigy of a woman is a harvest goddess, not a tree-spirit, 
but the principle is the same. 

w. Mann- Without citing more examples to the same effect, we 
summary mav sum U P the resu l ts f the preceding pages in the 
of the ' words of Mannhardt : " The customs quoted suffice to 
lce ' establish with certainty the conclusion that in these spring 
processions the spirit of vegetation is often represented both 
by the May-tree and in addition by a man dressed in green 
leaves or flowers or by a girl similarly adorned. It is the 
same spirit which animates the tree and is active in the 
inferior plants and which we have recognised in the May- 
tree and the Harvest-May. Quite consistently the spirit is 
also supposed to manifest his presence in the first flower 
of spring and reveals himself both in a girl representing 
a May-rose, and also, as giver of harvest, in the person of 
the Walber. The procession with this representative of the 
divinity was supposed to produce the same beneficial effects 
on the fowls, the fruit-trees, and the crops as the presence 
of the deity himself. In other words, the mummer was 
Regarded not as an image but as an actual representative 
of the spirit of vegetation ; hence the wish expressed by the 
attendants on the May-rose and the May-tree that those who 
refuse them gifts of eggs, bacon, and so forth, may have no 
share in the blessings which it is in the power of the itinerant 

1 B. A. Gupte, "Harvest Festivals in honour of Gauri and Ganesh," Indian 
Antiquary, xxxv. (1906) p. 6l. 


spirit to bestow. We may conclude that these begging pro- 
cessions with May-trees or May-boughs from door to door 
(' bringing the May or the summer ') had everywhere origin- 
ally a serious and, so to speak, sacramental significance ; 
people really believed that the god of growth was present 
unseen in the bough ; by the procession he was brought to 
each house to bestow his blessing. The names May, Father 
May, May Lady, Queen of the May, by which the anthropo- 
morphic spirit of vegetation is often denoted, shew that the 
idea of the spirit of vegetation is blent with a personifica- 
tion of the season at which his powers are most strikingly 
manifested." l 

Thus far we have seen that the tree-spirit or the spirit Tree-spirit 
of vegetation in general is represented either in vegetable ^0^1^" 
form alone, as by a tree, bough, or flower ; or in vegetable represented 
and human form simultaneously, as by a tree, bough, or r 

flower in combination with a puppet or a living person. It 
remains to shew that the representation of him by a tree, 
bough, or flower is sometimes entirely dropped, while the 
representation of him by a living person remains. In this 
case the representative character of the person is generally 
marked by dressing him or her in leaves or flowers ; some- 
times too it is indicated by the name he or she bears. 

Thus in some parts of Russia on St. George's Day (the Green 
twenty-third of April) a youth is dressed out, like our Jack- 
in -the -Green, with leaves and flowers. The Slovenes call 
him the Green George. Holding a lighted torch in one 
hand and a pie in the other, he goes out to the corn-fields, 
followed by girls singing appropriate songs. A circle of 
brushwood is then lighted, in the middle of which is set the 
pie. All who take part in the ceremony then sit down 
around the fire and divide the pie among them. 2 In this 
custom the Green George dressed in leaves and flowers is 
plainly identical with the similarly disguised Green George 
who is associated with a tree in the Carinthian, Transylvanian, 
and Roumanian customs observed on the same day. Again, 
we saw that in Russia at Whitsuntide a birch-tree is dressed 

1 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. tales, p. 345. As to Green George 
315 sg. see above, pp. 75 s?. 

2 W. R. S. Ralston, Russian Folk- 


whitsun- in woman's clothes and set up in the house. Clearly 
tide equivalent to this is the custom observed on Whit-Monday 

customs m ^ ' 

Russia. by Russian girls in the district of Pmsk. They choose the 
prettiest of their number, envelop her in a mass of foliage 
taken from the birch-trees and maples, and carry her about 
through the village. In a district of Little Russia they take 
round a " poplar," represented by a girl wearing bright 
flowers in her hair. 1 At Whitsuntide in Holland poor 
women used to go about begging with a little girl called 
Whitsuntide Flower (Pinxterbloem, perhaps a kind of iris) ; 
she was decked with flowers and sat in a waggon. In North 
Brabant she wears the flowers from which she takes her 
name and a song is sung : 

" Whitsuntide Flower, 
Turn yourself once round" a 

May All over Provence on the first of May pretty little girls 

customs m are d ressec j j n white, decked with crowns and wreaths of 


roses, and set on seats or platforms strewn with flowers 
in the streets, while their companions go about begging 
coppers for the Mayos or Mayes, as they are called, from the 
passers-by. 3 In some parts of the Ardennes on May Day 
a small girl, clad in white and wearing a chaplet of flowers 
on her head, used to go from house to house with her play- 
mates, collecting contributions and singing that it was May, 
the month of May, the pretty month of May, that the wheat 
was tall, the hawthorn in bloom, and the lark carolling in 
the sky. 4 

The Little In Ruhla (Thuringen) as soon as the trees begin to grow 
[an> green in spring, the children assemble on a Sunday and go 
out into the woods, where they choose one of their play- 
mates to be the Little Leaf Man. They break branches 
from the trees and twine them about the child till only his 

1 W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the scences populairesde la Provence, pp.l sq. 

Russian People, p. 234. 4 A. Meyrac, Traditions, coutumes, 

* W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. Kgtnteet contes des Ardenns (Gwte. 

318 ; J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie* v:lk 1890) pp. 79-82. The girl was 

jj 6 ' J called the Tnmouzette. A custom of 

the same general character was practised 

3 A. de Nore, Coutumes, mythes et down to recent times in the Jura 

traditions des provinces de France, (Be>enger-Feraud, Reminiscences popu- 

pp. 17 sq. ; Berenger-Feraud, Rimini- laires de la Provence, p. 1 8). 


shoes peep out from the leafy mantle. Holes are made in 
it for him to see through, and two of the children lead the 
Little Leaf Man that he may not stumble or fall. Singing 
and dancing they take him from house to house, asking for 
gifts of food such as eggs, cream, sausages, and cakes. 
Lastly, they sprinkle the Leaf Man with water and feast on 
the food they have collected. 1 At Rollshausen on the Leaf-clad 

Schwalm, in Hesse, when afternoon service is over on Whit- u ,^lf rs 

at Whit- 
sunday, the schoolboys and schoolgirls go out into thesuntide. 

wood and there clothe a boy from head to foot in leaves so 
that nobody would know him. He is called the Little 
Whitsuntide Man. A procession is then formed. Two 
boys lead their leaf-clad playfellow ; two others precede him 
with a basket ; and two girls with another basket bring up 
the rear. Thus they go from house to house singing 
hymns or popular songs and collecting eggs and cakes in 
the baskets. When they have feasted on these, they strip 
their comrade of his verdant envelope on an open place in 
front of the village. 2 In some parts of Rhenish Bavaria at 
Whitsuntide a boy or lad is swathed in the yellow blossom 
of the broom, the dark green twigs of the firs, and other 
foliage. Thus attired he is known as the Quack and goes 
from door to door, whirling about in the dance, while an 
appropriate song is chanted and his companions levy 
contributions. 3 In the Fricktal, Switzerland, at Whitsuntide 
boys go out into a wood and swathe one of their number in 
leafy boughs. He is called the Whitsuntide-lout (Pfingst- 
/timmef), and being mounted on horseback with a green 
branch in his hand he is led back into the village. At the 
village-well a halt is called and the leaf-clad lout is dis- 
mounted and ducked in the trough. Thereby he acquires 
the right of sprinkling water on everybody, and he exercises 
the right specially on girls and street urchins. The urchins 

1 F. A. Reimann, Deutsche Volks- nischen Vorzeit (Marburg, 1888), p. 70. 
festeimneunzehntenJahrhundert(?<Nt\- 3 Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde 
mar, 1839), pp. IS9 S 9- 5 ^ v - Mannhardt, des Konigreichs Bayern, iv. 2, pp. 359 
Baumkullus, p. 320 ; A. Witzschel, sq. Similarly in the Departement de 
Sagen, Sitten und Gebratiche aus Thiir- PAin (France) on the first of May eight 
ingen, p. 2 1 1 . or ten boys unite, clothe one of their 

number in leaves, and go from house 

2 W. Kolbe, Hessische Volks-Sitten to house begging (W. Mannhardt, 
und Gebrauche im Lichte der heid- Baumkultus, p. 318). 



march before him in bands begging him to give them a 
Whitsuntide wetting. 1 

lack-in- In England the best-known example of these leaf-clad 

the-Green mummers j s the Jack-in-the-Grecn, a chimney-sweeper who 
land. walks encased in a pyramidal framework of wickerwork, 
which is covered with holly and ivy, and surmounted by a 
crown of flowers and ribbons. Thus arrayed he dances on 
May Day at the head of a troop of chimney-sweeps, who 
collect pence. 2 The ceremony was witnessed at Cheltenham 
on the second of May 1892, by Dr. W. H. D. Rouse, who 
has described in detail the costume of the performers. They 
were all chimney-sweeps of the town. Jack-in-the-Green or 
the Bush-carrier was enclosed in a wooden framework on 
which leaves were fastened so as to make a thick cone about 
six feet high, topped with a crown, which consisted of two 
wooden hoops placed crosswise and covered with flowers. 
The leafy envelope was unbroken except for a single open- 
ing through which peered the face of the mummer. From 
time to time in their progress through the streets the per- 
formers halted, and three of them, dressed in red, blue, 
and yellow respectively, tripped lightly round the leaf- 
covered man to the inspiring strains of a fiddle and a tin 
whistle on which two of their comrades with blackened faces 
discoursed sweet music. The leader of the procession was a 
clown fantastically clad in a long white pinafore or blouse 
with coloured fringes and frills, and wearing on his head a 
beaver hat of the familiar pattern, the crown of which hung 
loose and was adorned with ribbons and a bird or a bundle 
of feathers. Large black rings surrounded his eyes, and a 
red dab over mouth and chin lent a pleasing variety to his 
countenance. He contributed to the public hilarity by 
flapping the yellow fringe of his blouse with quaint gestures 
and occasionally fanning himself languidly. His efforts 
were seconded by another performer, who wore a red fool's 
cap, all stuck with flowers, and a white pinafore enriched 
with black human figures in front and a black gridiron-like 
pattern, crossed diagonally by a red bar, at the back. Two 

1 E. Hoffmann-Krayer, " Fruchtbar- 2 W. Mannhardt, Ba-timkultus, p. 

keitsriten im schweizerischen Volks- 322 ; W. Hone, Every-Day Book, i. 

brauch," Sehweizerisches Archiv fur 583 sqq. ; T. F. Thiselton Dyer, 

Volkskunde, xi. (1907) p. 252. British Popular Customs, pp. 230 sq. 


boys in white pinafores, with similar figures, or stars, on the 
breast, and a fish on the back, completed the company. 
Formerly there used to be a man in woman's clothes, who 
personated the clown's wife. 1 In some parts also of France 
a young fellow is encased in a wicker framework covered 
with leaves and is led about. 2 In Frickthal, in the Swiss 
canton of Aargau, a similar frame of basketwork is called 
the Whitsuntide Basket. As soon as the trees begin to bud, The Whit- 
a spot is chosen in the wood, and here the village lads make B^kefin 
the frame with all secrecy, lest others should forestall them. Swiuer- 
Leafy branches are twined round two hoops, one of which *" ' 
rests on the shoulders of the wearer, the other encircles his 
calves ; holes are made for his eyes and mouth ; and a large 
nosegay crowns the whole. In this guise he appears suddenly 
in the village at the hour of vespers, preceded by three boys 
blowing on horns made of willow bark. The great object 
of his supporters is to set up the Whitsuntide Basket on 
the village well, and to keep it and him there, despite the 
efforts of the lads from neighbouring villages, who seek to 
carry off the Whitsuntide Basket and set it up on their own 
well. 3 In the neighbourhood of Ertingen (Wiirtemberg) a 
masker of the same sort, known as the Lazy Man (Latzmann\ The Lazy 
goes about the village on Midsummer Day ; he is hidden wurtem- 
under a great pyramidal or conical frame of wickerwork, berg, 
ten or twelve feet high, which is completely covered with 
sprigs of fir. He has a bell which he rings as he goes, and 
he is attended by a suite of persons dressed up in character 
a footman, a colonel, a butcher, an angel, the devil, the 
doctor, and so on. They march in Indian file and halt before 
every house, where each of them speaks in character, except 
the Lazy Man, who says nothing. With what they get by 
begging from door to door they hold a feast. 4 

In the class of cases of which the foregoing are specimens 
it is obvious that the leaf-clad person who is led about is 

1 W. H. D. Rouse, " May-Day in 3 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 
Cheltenham," Folk-lore, iv. (1893) 323 ; H. Herzog, Schwtizerische Volks- 
pp. 50-53. On May Day 1891 I saw feste, Sitten und Gebrciuche (Aarau, 
a Jack-in-the-Gree'n in the streets of 1884), pp. 248 sq. 

Cambridge. * A. Birlinger, Volksthumlichcs aus 

2 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. Schwaben, ii. 114*?. ; W. Mannhardt, 
323. Baumkultus, p. 325. 


equivalent to the May-tree, May-bough, or May-doll, which is 
carried from house to house by children begging. Both are 
representatives of the beneficent spirit of vegetation, whose 
visit to the house is recompensed by a present of money or 

Leaf-clad Often the leaf-clad person who represents the spirit of 

r ? v P r ^ enta " vegetation is known as the king or the queen ; thus, for 
vegetation example, he or she is called the May King, Whitsuntide 
Sued 1 65 Kin g> Queen of May, and so on. These titles, as Mann- 
King or hardt observes, imply that the spirit incorporate in vegeta- 
tion is a ruler, whose creative power extends far and wide. 1 
May- In a village near Salzwedel a May-tree is set up at 

Kmgs at Whitsuntide and the boys race to it : he who reaches it first 

\ V nitsun- 

tide in is king ; a garland of flowers is put round his neck and in 
a ^ many his hand he carries a May-bush, with which, as the pro- 
Bohemia, cession moves along, he sweeps away the dew. At each 
house they sing a song, wishing the inmates good luck, 
referring to the "black cow in the stall milking white milk, 
black hen on the nest laying white eggs," and begging a gift 
of eggs, bacon, and so on. 2 At the village of Ellgoth in 
Silesia a ceremony called the King's Race is observed at 
Whitsuntide. A pole with a cloth tied to it is set up in a 
meadow, and the young men ride past it on horseback, each 
trying to snatch away the cloth as he gallops by. The one 
who succeeds in carrying it off and dipping it in the neigh- 
bouring Oder is proclaimed King. 3 Here the pole is clearly 
a substitute for a May-tree. In some villages of Brunswick 
at Whitsuntide a May King is completely enveloped in a May- 
bush. In some parts of Thiiringen also they have a May 
King at Whitsuntide, but he is dressed up rather differently. 
A frame of wood is made in which a man can stand ; it is 
completely covered with birch boughs and is surmounted 
by a crown of birch and flowers, in which a bell is fastened. 
This frame is placed in the wood and the May King gets 
into it. The rest go out and look for him, and when they 
have found him they lead him back into the village to the 
magistrate, the clergyman, and others, who have to guess 

1 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. p. 380. 

314*?- 3 F. Tetzner, "Die Tschechen und 

2 A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, Nord- Mahrer in Schlesien," Globus, Ixviii 
deutscheSagcn,MarchenundGebrauche, (1900) p. 340. 


who is in the verdurous frame. If they guess wrong, the The Map 
May King rings his bell by shaking his head, and a forfeit King ' 
of beer or the like must be paid by the unsuccessful guesser. 1 
At Wahrstedt in Brunswick the boys at Whitsuntide choose 
by lot a king and a high-steward (fiistje-meier). The latter 
is completely concealed in a May-bush, wears a wooden 
crown wreathed with flowers, and carries a wooden sword. 
The king, on the other hand, is only distinguished by a 
nosegay in his cap, and a reed, with a red ribbon tied to it, 
in his hand. They beg for eggs from house to house, 
threatening that, where none are given, none will be laid 
by the hens throughout the year. In this custom the high- 
steward appears, for some reason, to have usurped the 
insignia of the king. 2 At Hildesheim, in Hanover, five or 
six young fellows go about on the afternoon of Whit- 
Monday cracking long whips in measured time and collecting 
eggs from the houses. The chief person of the band is the 
Leaf King, a lad swathed so completely in birchen twigs The Leaf 
that nothing of him can be seen but his feet. A huge head- 
dress of birchen twigs adds to his apparent stature. In his 
hand he carries a long crook, with which he tries to catch 
stray dogs and children. 3 In some parts of Bohemia on 
Whit-Monday the young fellows disguise themselves in tall 
caps of birch bark adorned with flowers. One of them is 
dressed as a king and dragged on a sledge to the village 
green, and if on the way they pass a pool the sledge is 
always overturned into it. Arrived at the green they gather 
round the king ; the crier jumps on a stone or climbs up 
a tree and recites lampoons about each house and its 
inmates. Afterwards the disguises of bark are stripped 
off and they go about the village in holiday attire, carrying 
a May-tree and begging. Cakes, eggs, and corn are some- 
times given them. 4 At Grossvargula, near Langensalza, in 
the eighteenth century a Grass King used to be led about The Grass 
in procession at Whitsuntide. He was encased in a pyramid 

1 A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, op. cit, Schwanke und Gebrauche aus Stadt 
pp. 383 sq. ; W. Mannhardt, Baum- und Stiff Hildesheim, Zweite Auflage 
kultus, p. 342. (Hildesheim, 1889), pp. 180 sq, 

2 R. Andree, Braunschweiger Volks- 4 Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- 
kunde (Brunswick, 1896), pp. 249 sq. dar aus Bbhmen, pp. 260 sq. ; \V. 

3 K. Seifart, Sagen, Afarcken, Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 342 sq. 


The Grass of poplar branches, the top of which was adorned with a 
royal crown of branches and flowers. He rode on horseback 
with the leafy pyramid over him, so that its lower end 
touched the ground, and an opening was left in it only for 
his face. Surrounded by a cavalcade of young fellows, he 
rode in procession to the town hall, the parsonage, and so on, 
where they all got a drink of beer. Then under the seven 
lindens of the neighbouring Sommerberg, the Grass King 
was stripped of his green casing ; the crown was handed to 
the Mayor, and the branches were stuck in the flax fields in 
order to make the flax grow tall. 1 In this last trait the 
fertilising influence ascribed to the representative of the tree- 
spirit comes out clearly. In the neighbourhood of Pilsen 
(Bohemia) a conical hut of green branches, without any door, 
is erected at Whitsuntide in the midst of the village. To 
this hut rides a troop of village lads with a king at their 
head. He wears a sword at his side and a sugar-loaf hat of 
rushes on his head. In his train are a judge, a crier, and a 
personage called the Frog-flayer or Hangman. This last is 
a sort of ragged merryandrew, wearing a rusty old sword and 
bestriding a sorry hack. On reaching the hut the crier 
dismounts and goes round it looking for a door. Finding 
none, he says, " Ah, this is perhaps an enchanted castle ; 
the witches creep through the leaves and need no door." 
At last he draws his sword and hews his way into the hut, 
where there is a chair, on which he seats himself and pro- 
ceeds to criticise in rhyme the girls, farmers, and farm- 
servants of the neighbourhood. When this is over, the 
Frog-flayer steps forward and, after exhibiting a cage with 
frogs in it, sets up a gallows on which he hangs the frogs in 
a row. 2 In the neighbourhood of Plas the ceremony differs 
in some points. The king and his soldiers are completely 
clad in bark, adorned with flowers and ribbons ; they all 
carry swords and ride horses, which are gay with green 
branches and flowers. While the village dames and girls 
are being criticised at the arbour, a frog is secretly pinched 
and poked by the crier till it quacks. Sentence of death is 

1 F. A. Reimann, Deutsche Volks- und Gebrduche aus Thiiringen (Vienna, 

feste im neunzehnten Jahrhundert, pp. 1878), p. 203. 

1 57- 1 59 ; W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, 2 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- 

PP- 347 S <1- 5 A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten dar aus Bohmen, pp. 253 sqq. 


passed on the frog by the king ; the hangman beheads it 
and flings the bleeding body among the spectators. Lastly, 
the king is driven from the hut and pursued by the soldiers. 1 
The pinching and beheading of the frog are doubtless, as 
Mannhardt observes, 2 a rain-charm. We have seen that 
some Indians of the Orinoco beat frogs for the express 
purpose of producing rain, and that killing a frog is a 
European rain-charm. 3 

Often the spirit of vegetation in spring is represented May- 
by a queen instead of a king. In the neighbourhood of 
Libchowic (Bohemia), on the fourth Sunday in Lent, girls suntide 
dressed in white and wearing the first spring flowers, as e 
violets and daisies, in their hair, lead about the village a girl 
who is called the Queen and is crowned with flowers. During 
the procession, which is conducted with great solemnity, 
none of the girls may stand still, but must keep whirling 
round continually and singing. In every house the Queen 
announces the arrival of spring and wishes the inmates good 
luck and blessings, for which she receives presents. 4 In 
German Hungary the girls choose the prettiest girl to be 
their Whitsuntide Queen, fasten a towering wreath on her 
brow, and carry her singing through the streets. At every 
house they stop, sing old ballads, and receive presents. 6 In 
the south-east of Ireland on May Day the prettiest girl used 
to be chosen Queen of the district for twelve months. She 
was crowned with wild flowers ; feasting, dancing, and rustic 
sports followed, and were closed by a grand procession in 
the evening. During her year of office she presided over 
rural gatherings of young people at dances and merry- 
makings. If she married before next May Day, her 
authority was at an end, but her successor was not elected 
till that day came round. 6 The May Queen is common in 
France 7 and familiar in England. Thus at the adjoining 

1 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- 343 sq. 

dar aus Bohmen, p. 262 ; W. Mann- 6 T. F. Thiselton Dyer, British 

hardt, Baumkultus, pp. 353 sq. Popular Customs, pp. 270 sq. 

2 Baumkitltus, p. 35$. 7 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 

3 Above, vol. i. pp. 292, 293. 344 sqq.; E.CoTlet,F2tesre/igieuses,pp. 

4 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- i6osff.; D. Monnier, Traditions popu- 
dar aus Bohmen, p. 93; W. Mann- /a*>ttMw/ar/M, pp. 282 J^y.; BeVenger- 
hardt, Baumkultus, p. 344. Fe"raud, Reminiscences populaires de la 

6 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. Provence, pp. 17 sq. ; Ch. Beauquier, 


Tho-May villages of Cherrington and Stourton in south Warwickshire, 
Queen in fa & Q ueen o f May is still represented on May Day by a 
shire. small girl dressed in white and wearing a wreath of flowers 
on her head. An older girl wheels the Queen in what is 
called a mail-cart, that is, a child's perambulator on two 
wheels. Another girl carries a money-box. Four boys bear 
the May-pole, a conical framework formed of a high tripod 
with a central shaft. The whole structure is encased in a 
series of five hoops, which rise one above the other, diminish- 
ing in size from bottom to top with the tapering of the cone. 
The hoops, as well as the tripod and the central shaft, are 
all covered with whatever flowers happen to be in bloom, 
such as marsh-marigolds, primroses, or blue-bells. To the 
top of the central shaft is fastened a bunch of the flower 
called crown-imperial, if it is in season. The lowest hoop is 
crossed by two bars at right angles to each other, and the 
projecting ends of the bars serve as handles, by which the 
four boys carry the May-pole. Each of the bearers has a 
garland of flowers slung over his shoulder. Thus the children 
go from house to house, singing their songs and receiving 
money, which goes to provide a treat for them in the after- 
noon. 1 

Spirit of Again the spirit of vegetation is sometimes represented 

Resented ^ v a king a d queen, a lord and lady, or a bridegroom 
simuitane- and bride. Here again the parallelism holds between the 
K^ng amf an thropomorphic and the vegetable representation of the 
Queen or tree-spirit, for we have seen above that trees are sometimes 
groon^and married to each other. 2 At Halford in south Warwick- 
Bride, shire the children go from house to house on May Day, 
walking two and two in procession and headed by a King 
and Queen. Two boys carry a May-pole some six or seven 
feet high, which is covered with flowers and greenery. 
Fastened to it near the top are two cross-bars at right angles 
to each other. These are also decked with flowers, and from 

Les Mot's en Franche-Comtt (Paris, herself has spent much of her life there. 
1900), pp. 65-69. In Franche-Comte I conjecture that the conical flower- 
she seems to be generally known as bedecked structure may once have been 
rtpouste, " the spouse." borne by a mummer concealed within 
1 From information given me by it. Compare the customs described 
Mabel Bailey, in the service of Miss A. above, pp. 82 sq. 
Wyse of Halford. My informant's 
father is a native of Stourton, and she 2 Above, pp. 24 sqq. 


the ends of the bars hang hoops similarly adorned. At the 
houses the children sing May songs and receive money, 
which is used to provide tea for them at the school- 
house in the afternoon. 1 In a Bohemian village near Whitsun 
Koniggratz on Whit-Monday the children play the king's 
game, at which a king and queen march about under a 
canopy, the queen wearing a garland, and the youngest girl 
carrying two wreaths on a plate behind them. They are 
attended by boys and girls called groomsmen and brides- 
maids, and they go from house to house collecting gifts. 2 
A regular feature in the popular celebration of Whitsuntide 
in Silesia used to be, and to some extent still is, the contest 
for the kingship. This contest took various forms, but the 
mark or goal was generally the May-tree or May-pole. 
Sometimes the youth who succeeded in climbing the smooth 
pole and bringing down the prize was proclaimed the Whit- 
suntide King and his sweetheart the Whitsuntide Bride. 
Afterwards the king, carrying the May-bush, repaired with 
the rest of the company to the ale-house, where a dance and 
a feast ended the merry-making. Often the young farmers 
and labourers raced on horseback to the May-pole, which 
was adorned with flowers, ribbons, and a crown. He who 
first reached the pole was the Whitsuntide King, and the 
rest had to obey his orders for that day. The worst rider 
became the clown. At the May-tree all dismounted and 
hoisted the king on their shoulders. He nimbly swarmed 
up the pole and brought down the May-bush and the crown, 
which had been fastened to the top. Meantime the clown 
hurried to the ale-house and proceeded to bolt thirty rolls of 
bread and to swig four quart bottles of brandy with the utmost 
possible despatch. He was followed by the king, who bore the 
May-bush and crown at the head of the company. If on their 
arrival the clown had already disposed of the rolls and the 
brandy, and greeted the king with a speech and a glass of beer, 
his score was paid by the king ; otherwise he had to settle it 
himself. After church time the stately procession wound 
through the village. At the head of it rode the king, decked 

1 From information given me by dar aits Biihmen, pp. 265 sq. ; W. 
Miss A. Wyse of Halford. Mannhardt, fiaumkultus, p. 422. 

2 Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- 


Whitsun- with flowers and carrying the May-bush. Next came the 

tide Kmg c j own W jth his clothes turned inside out, a great flaxen beard 


on his chin, and the Whitsuntide crown on his head. Two 
riders disguised as guards followed. The procession drew 
up before every farmyard ; the two guards dismounted, shut 
the clown into the house, and claimed a contribution from 
the housewife to buy soap with which to wash the clown's 
beard. Custom allowed them to carry off any victuals which 
were not under lock and key. Last of all they came to the 
house in which the king's sweetheart lived. She was greeted 
as Whitsuntide Queen and received suitable presents to 
wit, a many-coloured sash, a cloth, and an apron. The king 
got as a prize, a vest, a neckcloth, and so. forth, and had the 
right of setting up the May-bush or Whitsuntide-tree before 
his master's yard, where it remained as an honourable token 
till the same day next year. Finally the procession took 
its way to the tavern, where the king and queen opened 
the dance. Sometimes the Whitsuntide King and Queen 
succeeded to office in a different way. A man of straw, as 
large as life and crowned with a red cap, was conveyed in a 
cart, between two men armed and disguised as guards, to a 
place where a mock court was waiting to try him. A great 
crowd followed the cart. After a formal trial the straw man 
was condemned to death and fastened to a stake on the 
execution ground. The young men with bandaged eyes 
tried to stab him with a spear. He who succeeded became 
king and his sweetheart queen. The straw man was known 
King and as the Goliath. 1 Near Grenoble, in France, a king and 
Queen of q ueen are chosen on the first of May and are set on a 
throne for all to see. 2 At Headington, near Oxford, children 
used to carry garlands from door to door on May Day. 
Each garland was borne by two girls, and they were followed 
by a lord and lady a boy and girl linked together by a 
white handkerchief, of which each held an end, and dressed 
with ribbons, sashes, and flowers. At each door they sang 
a verse : 

1 P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch nnd compares (Paris, 1854), p. 304; E. 
Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. (Leipsic, Cortet, Fetes religieuses, p. 161 ; W. 
J 903) PP- 125-129. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 423. 

2 D. Monnier, Traditions populaires 


" Gentlemen and ladies, 

We wish yon happy May ; 
We come to shew you a garland, 
Because it is May -day." 

On receiving money the lord put his arm about his 
lady's waist and kissed her. 1 At Fleuriers in Switzerland 
on the seventh of May 1843 a May-bridegroom (Epoux de 
Mai) and his bride were escorted in a procession of over two 
hundred children, some of whom carried green branches of 
beech. A number of May Fools were entrusted with the 
delicate duty of going round with the hat. The proceeds of 
their tact and industry furnished a banquet in the evening, and 
the day ended with a children's ball. 2 In some Saxon villages 
at Whitsuntide a lad and a lass used to disguise themselves and 
hide in the bushes or high grass outside the village. Then 
the whole village went out with music " to seek the bridal 
pair." When they found the couple they all gathered round 
them, the music struck up, and the bridal pair was led 
merrily to the village. In the evening they danced. In 
some places the bridal pair was called the prince and the 
princess. 3 

In a parish of Denmark it used to be the custom at whitsun- 
Whitsuntide to dress up a little girl as the Whitsun-bride tide Bride " 

r groom and 

(pinse-bruderi) and a little boy as her groom. She was Bride in 
decked in all the finery of a grown-up bride, and wore a 
crown of the freshest flowers of spring on her head. Her 
groom was as gay as flowers, ribbons, and knots could make 
him. The other children adorned themselves as best they 
could with the yellow flowers of the trollius and caltha. 
Then they went in great state from farmhouse to farmhouse, 
two little girls walking at the head of the procession as 
bridesmaids, and six or eight outriders galloping ahead 
on hobby-horses to announce their coming. Contributions 

1 J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, i. branch," Schweizerisches Archiv fur 

233 sq. ; W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, Volkskunde, xi. (1907) pp. 257 sq. 

p. 424. We have seen (p. 62) that 8 E. Sommer, Sagen, Miirchen and 

a custom of the same sort used to be Gebrduche aus Sachsen und Thurin- 

observed at Bampton-in-the-Bush in gen (Halle, 1843), pp. 151 sq. ; \V. 

Oxfordshire. Mannhardt, Baumkttltus, pp. 431 sq. 

The custom is now obsolete (E. Mogk, 

8 E. Hoffmann-Krayer, "Fruchtbar- in R. Wuttke's Stichsischt Volkskunde,- 

keitsriten iro schweizerischen Volks- Dresden, 1901, p. 309). 


of eggs, butter, loaves, cream, coffee, sugar, and tallow- 
candles were received and conveyed away in baskets. 
When they had made the round of the farms, some of 
the farmers' wives helped to arrange the wedding feast, 
and the children danced merrily in clogs on the stamped 
clay floor till the sun rose and the birds began to sing. 
All this is now a thing of the past. Only the old folks 
still remember the little Whitsun- bride and her mimic 
pomp. 1 

Mid- We have seen that in Sweden the ceremonies associated 

Bride'- 61 ' elsewhere with May Day or Whitsuntide commonly take 
groom and place at Midsummer. 2 Accordingly we find that in some 
Sweden 1 parts of the Swedish province of Blekinge they still choose a 
and Midsummer's Bride, to whom the " church coronet " is occa- 

sionally lent. The girl selects for herself a Bridegroom, and 
a collection is made for the pair, who for the time being are 
looked on as man and wife. The other youths also choose 
each his bride. 3 A similar ceremony seems to be still kept 
up in Norway, for a correspondent writes to me as follows in 
reference to the Danish custom of the Whitsun-bride : " It 
may interest you to know that on June 23, 1893, 1 witnessed 
at Ullensvang, Hardanger, Norway, a ceremony almost 
exactly the same as that described in your book. Wild 
flowers are scarce there, and the bride wore the usual metal 
crown, the attendants for the most part wearing the pretty 
Hardanger costume. The dancing took place in an un- 
lighted barn, as the farmer was afraid of fire. There were 
plenty of boys at the dance, but so far as I can remember, 
none in the procession. The custom is clearly dying out, 
and the somewhat reluctant bridegroom was the subject of 
a good deal of chaff from his fellows." 4 In Sardinia the 
Midsummer couples are known as the Sweethearts of St. 
John, and their association with the growth of plants is 
clearly brought out by the pots of sprouting grain which 
form a principal part of the ceremony. 5 

In the neighbourhood of Briangon (Dauphine") on May 

1 H. F. Feilberg, in Folk-lore, vi. 4 Mr. W. C. Crofts, in a letter to me 

(1895) PP- 194 sq- dated February 3, 1901, 9 Northwich 

1 See above, p. 65. Terrace, Cheltenham. 

3 L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden, 6 For details see Adonis, Attis, 

P- 257. Osiris, Second Edition, pp. 202 sq. 


Day the lads wrap up in green leaves a young fellow whose Forsaken 
sweetheart has deserted him or married another. He lies Bnde " 

groom or 

down on the ground and feigns to be asleep. Then a girl Bride of 
who likes him, and would marry him, comes and wakes him, 
and raising him up offers him her arm and a flag. So they tide. 
go to the alehouse, where the pair lead off the dancing. But 
they must marry within the year, or they are treated as old 
bachelor and old maid, and are debarred the company of the 
young folk. The lad is called the bridegroom of the month 
of May (le fianct du mots de May}. In the alehouse he puts 
off his garment of leaves, out of which, mixed with flowers, 
his partner in the dance makes a nosegay, and wears it at 
her breast next day, when he leads her again to the alehouse. 1 
Like this is a Russian custom observed in the district of 
Nerechta on the Thursday before Whitsunday. The girls 
go out into a birch-wood, wind a girdle or band round a 
stately birch, twist its lower branches into a wreath, and kiss 
each other in pairs through the wreath. The girls who kiss 
through the wreath call each other gossips. Then one of 
the girls steps forward, and mimicking a drunken man, flings 
herself on the ground, rolls on the grass, and feigns to fall 
fast asleep. Another girl wakens the pretended sleeper and 
kisses him ; then the whole bevy trips singing through the 
wood to twine garlands, which they throw into the water. 
In the fate of the garlands floating on the stream they read 
their own. 2 Here the part of the sleeper was probably at 
one time played by a lad. In these French and Russian 
customs we have a forsaken bridegroom, in the following a 
forsaken bride. On Shrove Tuesday the Slovenes of Ober- 
krain drag a straw puppet with joyous cries up and down 
the village ; then they throw it into the water or burn it, and 
from the height of the flames they judge of the abundance of 
the next harvest. The noisy crew is followed by a female 
masker, who drags a great board by a string and gives out 
that she is a forsaken bride. 3 

Viewed in the light of what has gone before, the 
awakening of the forsaken sleeper in these ceremonies prob- 

1 This custom was told to W. Mann- 2 W. Mannhardt, Baiimkultus, pp. 

hardt by a French prisoner in the war 434 sy. 
of 1870-71 (Baumkultus, p. 434). 3 Ibid. p. 435. 



ably represents the revival of vegetation in spring. But it 
is not easy to assign their respective parts to the forsaken 
bridegroom and to the girl who wakes him from his slumber. 
Is the sleeper the leafless forest or the bare earth of winter ? 
Is the girl who wakens him the fresh verdure or the genial 
sunshine of spring? It is hardly possible, on the evidence 
before us, to answer these questions. The Oraons of Bengal, 
it may be remembered, celebrate the marriage of earth in the 
springtime, when the sal-tree is in blossom. 1 But from this 
we can hardly argue that in the European ceremonies the 
sleeping bridegroom is " the dreaming earth " and the girl 
the spring blossoms. 

In the Highlands of Scotland the revival of vegetation 
m s P rm g used to be graphically represented on St. Bride's 
Day, the first of February. Thus in the Hebrides "the 
mistress and servants of each family take a sheaf of oats, and 
dress it up in women's apparel, put it in a large basket, and 
lay a wooden club by it, and this they call Briid's bed ; and 
then the mistress and servants cry three times, ' Briid is 
come, Briid is welcome.' This they do just before going to 
bed, and when they rise in the morning they look among 
the ashes, expecting to see the impression of Briid's club 
there ; which if they do, they reckon it a true presage of a 
good crop and prosperous year, and the contrary they take 
as an ill omen." 2 The same custom is described by another 
witness thus : " Upon the night before Candlemas it is usual 
to make a bed with corn and hay, over which some blankets 
are laid, in a part of the house, near the door. When it is 
ready, a person goes out and repeats three times, . . . 
' Bridget, Bridget, come in ; thy bed is ready.' One or more 
candles are left burning near it all night." 3 Similarly in the 

1 See above, pp. 76 sg. 

2 M. Martin, Description of the 
Western Islands of Scotland (London, 
1 673 [1703]), p. 119; id. in Pinker- 
ton's Voyages and Travels, iii. 613; 
W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 436. 
According to Martin, the ceremony 
took place on Candlemas Day, the 
second of February. But this seems 
to be a mistake. See J. G. Camp- 
bell, Witchcraft and Second Sight 
in the Highlands and Islands of Scot- 

land, pp. 247 sq. The Rev. James 
Macdonald, of Reay in Caithness, was 
assured by old people that the sheaf 
used in making Briid's bed was the 
last sheaf cut at harvest (J. Macdonald, 
Religion and Myth, p. 141). Later on 
we shall see that the last sheaf is often 
regarded as embodying the spirit of the 
corn, and special care is therefore taken 
of it. 

3 John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Scot- 
land and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth 


Isle of Man " on the eve of the first of February, a festival 
was formerly kept, called, in the Manks language, Laa'l 
Breeshey, in honour of the Irish lady who went over to the 
Isle of Man to receive the veil from St. Maughold. The 
custom was to gather a bundle of green rushes, and standing 
with them in the hand on the threshold of the door, to invite 
the holy Saint Bridget to come and lodge with them that 
night. In the Manks language, the invitation ran thus : 
' Brede, Brede, tar gys my thie tar dyn thie ayms nog/if. 
Foshil jee yn dorrys da Brede, as Ihig da Brede e Jieet staigh! 
In English : ' Bridget, Bridget, come to my house, come to 
my house to-night. Open the door for Bridget, and let 
Bridget come in.' After these words were repeated, the 
rushes were strewn on the floor by way of a carpet or bed 
for St. Bridget. A custom very similar to this was also 
observed in some of the Out-Isles of the ancient kingdom of 
Man." J In these Manx and Highland ceremonies it is 
obvious that St. Bride, or St. Bridget, is an old heathen 
goddess of fertility, disguised in a threadbare Christian cloak. 
Probably she is no other than the Celtic goddess Brigit, who 
will meet us again later on. 2 

Often the marriage of the spirit of vegetation in spring, May Bride 
though not directly represented, is implied by naming the su,^ 1 ' 
human representative of the spirit, " the Bride," and dressing Bride, 
her in wedding attire. Thus in some villages of Altmark at 
Whitsuntide, while the boys go about carrying a May-tree 
or leading a boy enveloped in leaves and flowers, the girls 
lead about the May Bride, a girl dressed as a bride with a 
great nosegay in her hair. They go from house to house, 
the May Bride singing a song in which she asks for a 
present, and tells the inmates of each house that if they 
give her something they will themselves have something the 

Century, edited by Alex. Allardyce the Highland one described in the 

(Edinburgh, 1888), ii. 447. At Ballina- text. 

sloe in County Galway it is customary J J. Train, Historical and Statistical 

to fasten a cross of twisted corn in the Account of the Isle of Man (Douglas, 

roof of the cottages on Candlemas Day. Isle of Man, 1845), ii. 116. 

The cross is fastened by means of a knife 2 See below, pp. 240 sqq. Brigit is 

stuck through a potato, and remains in the true original form of the name, which 

its place for months, if not for a year. has been corrupted into Breed, Bride, 

This custom (of which I was informed and Bridget. See Douglas Hyde, A 

by Miss Nina Hill in a letter dated Literary History of Ireland (London, 

May 5, 1898) maybe connected with 1899), p. 53, note 2. 


The Whit- whole year through ; but if they give her nothing they will 
Bridlfand themselves have nothing. 1 In some parts of Westphalia 
May Bride, two girls lead a flower-crowned girl called the Whitsuntide 
Bride from door to door, singing a song in which they ask 
for eggs. 2 At Waggum in Brunswick, when service is over 
on Whitsunday, the village girls assemble, dressed in white 
or. bright colours, decked with flowers, and wearing chaplets 
of spring flowers in their hair. One of them represents the 
May Bride, and carries a crown of flowers on a staff as a 
sign of her dignity. As usual the children go about from 
cottage to cottage singing and begging for eggs, sausages, 
cakes, or money. In other parts of Brunswick it is a boy 
clothed all in birch leaves who personates the May Bride.^ 
In Bresse in the month of May a girl called la Marine is 
tricked out with ribbons and nosegays and is led about by a 
gallant. She is preceded by a lad carrying a green May- 
tree, and appropriate verses are sung. 4 

1 A. Kuhn, Mdrkische Sagen und 3 R. Andree, Braunschweiger Volks- 
Marchen,pp.3lSsgg. ; W. Mannhardt, kunde (Brunswick, 1896), p. 248. 
Baumkultus, p. 437. 4 D. Monnier, Traditions fopulaires 

compares, pp. 283 sq. ; E. Cortet, Fftes 

2 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. religieuses, pp. 162 sq. ; W. Mannhardt, 
438. Baumkultus, pp. 439 sq. 



FROM the preceding examination of the spring and summer The 
festivals of Europe we may infer that our rude forefathers 
personified the powers of vegetation as male and female, and and Queen 
attempted, on the principle of homoeopathic or imitative fended to 
magic, to quicken the growth of trees and plants by repre- promote 

I- *u r ^u j -.- ,.u f the growth 

senting the marriage of the sylvan deities in the persons of f v egeta- 
a King and Queen of May, a Whitsun Bridegroom and tion b y 

~ 7> homoeo- 

Joride, and so torth. bucn representations were accordingly pathic 
no mere symbolic or allegorical dramas, pastoral plays 
designed to amuse or instruct a rustic audience. They were 
charms intended to make the woods to grow green, the fresh 
grass to sprout, the corn to shoot, and the flowers to blow. 
And it was natural to suppose that the more closely the 
mock marriage of the leaf-clad or flower-decked mummers 
aped the real marriage of the woodland sprites, the more 
effective would be the charm. Accordingly we may assume 
with a high degree of probability that the profligacy 
which notoriously attended these ceremonies l was at one 
time not an accidental excess but an essential part of the 
rites, and that in the opinion of those who performed them 
the marriage of trees and plants could not be fertile without 
the real union of the human sexes. At the present day it 
might perhaps be vain to look in civilised Europe for 
customs of this sort observed for the explicit purpose of 
promoting the growth of vegetation. But ruder races in 
other parts of the world have consciously employed the 
intercourse of 'the sexes as a means to ensure the fruitfulness 

1 See above, p. 67, and below, p. 104. 
VOL. M 97 H 


of the earth ; and some rites which are still, or were till 
lately, kept up in Europe can be reasonably explained only 
as stunted relics of a similar practice. The following facts 
will make this plain. 

intercourse For four days before they committed the seed to the earth 
of the sexes fae Pipiles of Central America kept apart from their wives 

practised _'_ i 

in order to " in order that on the night before planting they might indulge 
make the fa e [ r passions to the fullest extent ; certain persons are even 

crops grow. _ ' 

said to have been appointed to perform the sexual act at the 
very moment when the first seeds were deposited in the 
ground." The use of their wives at that time was indeed 
enjoined upon the people by the priests as a religious duty, 
in default of which it was not lawful to sow the seed. 1 The 
only possible explanation of this custom seems to be that 
the Indians confused the process by which human beings re- 
produce their kind with the process by which plants discharge 
the same function, and fancied that by resorting to the former 
they were simultaneously forwarding the latter. In the 
month of December, when the alligator pears begin to ripen, 
the Indians of Peru used to hold a festival called Acatay mita 
in order to make the fruit grow mellow. The festival lasted 
five days and nights, and was preceded by a fast of five days, 
during which they ate neither salt nor pepper and refrained 
from their wives. At the festival men and boys assembled 
stark naked in an open space among the orchards, and ran 
from there to a distant hill. Any woman whom they over- 
took on the way they violated. 2 In some parts of Java, at 
the season when the bloom will soon be on the rice, the 
husbandman and his wife visit their fields by night and there 
engage in sexual intercourse for the purpose of promoting 
the growth of the crop. 3 In the Leti, Sarmata, and some 
other groups of islands which lie between the western end of 
New Guinea and the northern part of Australia, the heathen 
population regard the sun as the male principle by whom 

1 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire den, 1889), p. 47. 

des nations civilistes du Mexique et de 2 P. J. de Arriaga, Extirpation de 

F4mi l rt$ueCentra/e(Pa.ris,i8$'7-l8$9), la idolatria del Pirn (Lima, 1621), pp. 

ii. 565; H. H. Bancroft, Native Races 36 sq. 

of the Pacific States, ii. 719 sq., Hi. 3 G. A. Wilken, " Het animisme bij 

507 ; O. Stoll, Die Ethnologic der de volken van den Indischen Archipel," 

Indianerstamme von Guatemala (Ley- De Indische Gids, June 1884, p. 958. 


the earth or female principle is fertilised. They call him 
Upu-lera or Mr. Sun, and represent him under the form 
of a lamp made of coco-nut leaves, which may be seen 
hanging everywhere in their houses and in the sacred fig-tree. 
Under the tree lies a large flat stone, which serves as a 
sacrificial table. On it the heads of slain foes were and are 
still placed in some of the islands. Once a year, at the 
beginning of the rainy season, Mr. Sun comes down into the 
holy fig-tree to fertilise the earth, and to facilitate his descent 
a ladder with seven rungs is considerately placed at his dis- 
posal. It is set up under the tree and is adorned with carved 
figures of the birds whose shrill clarion heralds the approach 
of the sun in the East. On this occasion pigs and dogs are 
sacrificed in profusion ; men and women alike indulge in a 
saturnalia ; and the mystic union of the sun and the earth is 
dramatically represented in public, amid song and dance, by 
the real union of the sexes under the tree. The object of 
the festival, we are told, is to procure rain, plenty of food 
and drink, abundance of cattle and children and riches from 
Grandfather Sun. They pray that he may make every she- 
goat to cast two or three young, the people to multiply, the 
dead pigs to be replaced by living pigs, the empty rice- 
baskets to be filled, and so on. And to induce him to grant 
their requests they offer him pork and rice and liquor, and 
invite him to fall to. In the Babar Islands a special flag is 
hoisted at this festival as a symbol of the creative energy 
of the sun ; it is of white cotton, about nine feet high, and 
consists of the figure of a man in an appropriate attitude. 1 

1 J. G. F. Riedel, De shiik en name of the festival is variously given 

kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en as porfke, porfka, porka, and purka. 

Papua, pp. 337, 372-375, 410 sq. ; In the island of Timor the marriage of 

G. W. W. C. Baron van Hoevell, in the Sun-god with Mother Earth is 

Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Land en deemed the source of all fertility and 

Volkenkunde, xxxiii. (1890) pp. 204 growth. See J. S. G. Gramberg, 

sq., 206 sq. ; id., in Internationales " Eene maand in de Binnenlanden van 

Archiv fur Ethnographic, viii. (1895) Timor," Verhandelingen van het Bata- 

p. 134; J. A. Jacobsen, Reisen in die viaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en 

Inselwelt des Banda-Meeres (Berlin, Wetenschappen, xxxvi. 206 sq. ; H. 

1896), pp. 123, 125; J. H. de Vries, Sondervan, "Timor en de Timor- 

"Reis door eenige eilandgroepen der eezen," Tijdschriftvan het Nederlandsch 

Residentie Amboina," Tijdschrift van Aardrijkskundig Genootschap, Tweede 

het konink. Nederlandsch Aardrijks- Serie, dl. v. (1888), Afdeeling meet 

kundig Genootschap, Tweede Serie, xvii. uitgebreide artikelen, p. 397. 
(1900) pp. 594, 612, 615 sq. The 


Among the Tangkhuls of Manipur, before the rice is sown 
and when it is reaped, the boys and girls have a tug-of-war 
with a tough rope of twisted creeper. Great jars of beer are 
set ready, and the strictness of their ordinary morality is 
broken by a night of unbridled licence. 1 It would be unjust 
to treat these orgies as a mere outburst of unbridled passion ; 
no doubt they are deliberately and , solemnly organised as 
essential to the fertility of the earth and the welfare of man. 
intercourse The same means which are thus adopted to stimulate the 
practised^ growth of the crops are naturally employed to ensure the 
order to fruitful ness of trees. The work known as The Agriculture 
bear fruit, of the Nabataeans contained apparently a direction that the 
grafting of a tree upon another tree of a different sort should 
be done by a damsel, who at the very moment of inserting 
the graft in the bough should herself be subjected to treat- 
ment which can only be regarded as a direct copy of the 
operation she was performing on the tree. 2 In some parts 
of Amboyna, when the state of the clove plantation indicates 
that the crop is likely to be scanty, the men go naked to the 
plantations by night, and there seek to fertilise the trees 
precisely as they would impregnate women, while at the same 
time they call out for " More cloves ! " This is supposed to 
make the trees bear fruit more abundantly. 3 In Java when 
a palm tree is to be tapped for wine, the man who proposes 
to relieve the tree of its superfluous juices deems it necessary 
to approach the palm in the character of a lover and a 
husband, as well as of a son. When he comes upon a 
palm which he thinks suitable, he will not begin cutting at 
the trunk until he has intimated as delicately as he can the 
reasons which lead him to perform that surgical operation, and 

1 T. C. Hodson, " The Native a few lines before. The first part of 
Tribes of Manipur," Journal of the that work appears to be lost, though 
Anthropological Institute, xxxi. (1901) other parts of it exist in manuscript at 
p. 307. Paris, Oxford, and elsewhere. See D. 

Chwolsohn, op. cit. i. 697 sqq. The 

2 Maimonides, translated by D. book is an early Mohammedan for- 
Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier und der Ssabis- gery ; but the superstitions it describes 
mus, ii. 475. It is not quite clear may very well be genuine. See A. 
whether the direction, which Maimo- von Gutschmid, Kleine Schriften, ii. 
nides here attributes to the heathen of 568-713. 

Harran, is taken by him from the 3 G. W. W. C. Baron van Hoevell, 

beginning of The Agriculture of the Ambon en meer bepaaldelijk de Oeliasers 
Nabataeans, which he had referred to (Dordrecht, 1875), pp. 62 sq. 


the ardent affection which he cherishes for the tree. For 
this purpose he holds a dialogue with the palm, in which he 
naturally speaks in the character of the tree as well as in his 
own. " O mother endang-reni I " he begins, " for the sake of 
you I have let myself be drenched by the rain and scorched 
by the sun ; long have I sought you ! Now at last have I 
found you. How ardently have I longed for you ! Often 
before have you given me the breast. Yet I still thirst. 
Therefore now I ask for four potfuls more." " Well, fair 
youth," replies the tree, " I have always been here. What 
is the reason that you have sought me ? " " The reason I 
have sought you is that I have heard you suffer from in- 
continentia urinae" " So I do," says the tree. " Will you marry 
me ? " says the man. " That I will," says the tree, " but first 
you must plight your troth and recite the usual confession d 
faith." On that the man takes a rattan leaf and. wraps it 
round the palm as a pledge of betrothal, after which he says 
the creed : " There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is 
his prophet." The maidenly and orthodox scruples of the 
tree having thus been satisfied, he embraces it as his bride. 
At first he attaches only a small dish to the trunk to receive 
the juices which exude from the cut in the bark ; a large dish 
might frighten the tree. In fastening the dish to the palm 
he says, " Bok-endang-reni ! your child is languishing away 
for thirst. He asks you for a drink." The tree replies, 
" Let him slake his thirst ! Mother's breasts are full to over- 
flowing." * We have already seen that in some parts of 
Northern India a mock marriage between two actors is 
performed in honour of a newly-planted orchard, 2 no doubt 
for the purpose of making it bear fruit. In the Nicobar 
Islands a pregnant woman is taken into the gardens in 
order to impart the blessing of fertility to the plants. 8 

The Baganda of Central Africa believe so strongly in 

1 J. Kreemer, " Tiang-deres," Mede- kende Volktnkundc van Nederlandsch- 

deelingen van ivege het Nederlandsche Indie (Leyden, 1893), p. 55)- 
Zendelinggenootschap, xxvi. (1882), pp. J Above, p. 26. 

128-132. This and the preceding 3 W. Svoboda, " Die Bewohner des 

custom have been already quoted by Nikobaren-Archipels," Internationales 

G. A. Wilken (""Het animisme bij de Archiv fur Ethnographie, v. (1892) pp. 

volken van den Indischen Archipel," 193 -V- For other examples of a fruit - 

De Indische Gids, June 1884, pp. 962 ful woman making trees fruitful, see 

sy. ; and Handleiding voor de vorgelij- above, vol. i. pp. 140 sy. 



in Uganda the intimate relation between the intercourse of the sexes 
parents of j ^ fertility of the ground that among them a barren 

twins are * 

supposed wife is generally sent away because she is supposed to pre- 
t t j e fertlhse vent her husband's garden from bearing fruit. On the 
plantains, contrary, a couple who have given proof of extraordinary 
fertility by becoming the parents of twins are believed by 
the Baganda to be endowed with a corresponding power of 
increasing the fruitfulness of the plantain-trees, which furnish 
them with their staple food. Some little time after the 
birth of the twins a ceremony is performed, the object of 
which clearly is to transmit the reproductive virtue of the 
parents to the plantains. The mother lies down on her 
back in the thick grass near the house and places a flower of 
the plantain between her legs ; then her husband comes and 
knocks the flower away with his genital member. Further, 
the parents go through the country, performing dances in 
the gardens of favoured friends, apparently for the purpose 
of causing the plantain-trees to bear fruit more abundantly. 
The same belief in the fertilising power of such parents prob- 
ably explains why in Uganda the father of twins is inviolable 
and may go into anybody's garden and take the produce at 
will. To distinguish him from the common herd his hair is 
cut in a special way, and he wears little bells at his ankles 
which tinkle as he walks. His sacred character is further 
manifested by a rule which he must observe after the round 
of visits has been paid, and the dances in the gardens are 
over. He has to remain at home until the next time that 
the army goes forth to battle, and in the interval he may 
neither dress his hair nor cut his finger-nails. When war 
has been proclaimed, his whole body is shaved and his nails 
cut. The clipped hair and nails he ties up in a ball, which 
he takes with him to the war, along with the bark cloth 
which "he wore at the dances. When he has killed a foe, he 
crams the ball into the dead man's mouth, ties the bark- 
cloth round his neck, and leaves them there on the battle- 
field. 1 Apparently the ceremony is intended to rid him of 

1 J. Roscoe, " Further Notes on the 
Manners and Customs of the Baganda," 
Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 
xxxii. (1902) pp. 32-35, 38, 80. The 
Peruvian custom described above (vol. i. 

p. 266) may in like manner have been 
intended to promote the growth of 
beans through the fertilising influence 
of the parents of twins. On the con- 
trary among the Bassari of Togo, in 


the peculiar sanctity or state of taboo which he contracted 
by the birth of twins, and to facilitate his return to ordinary 
life. For, to the mind of the savage, as we shall see later 
on, sanctity has its dangers and inconveniences, and the 
sacred man may often be glad to divest himself of it by 
stripping himself of those separable parts of his person the 
hair and nails to which the holy contagion is apt to cling. 

In various parts of Europe customs have prevailed both Relics of 
at spring and harvest which are clearly based on the same ^jj," s i 
crude notion that the relation of the human sexes to each Europe, 
other can be so used as to quicken the growth of plants. 
For example, in the Ukraine on St. George's Day (the 
twenty-third of April) the priest in his robes, attended by 
his acolytes, goes out to the fields of the village, where the 
crops are beginning to shew green above the ground, and 
blesses them. After that the young married people lie 
down in couples on the sown fields and roll several times 
over on them, in the belief that this will promote the growth 
of the crops. In some parts of Russia the priest himself is 
rolled by women over the sprouting crop, and that without 
regard to the mud and holes which he may encounter in his 
beneficent progress. If the shepherd resists or remonstrates, 
his flock murmurs, " Little Father, you do not really wish 
us well, you do not wish us to have corn, although you 
do wish to live on our corn." l In England it seems to 
have been customary for young couples to roll down a 
slope together on May Day ; on Greenwich-hill the custom 
was practised at Easter and Whitsuntide, 2 as it was till 
lately practised near Dublin on Whitmonday. 8 When 
we consider how closely these seasons, especially May Day 
and Whitsuntide, are associated with ceremonies for the 
revival of plant life in spring, we shall scarcely ,doubt 
that the custom of rolling in couples at such times had 
originally the same significance which it still has in Russia ; 

Western Africa, women who have given (Berlin, 1899), p. 510. 

birth to twins may not go near the farm 1 W. Mannhardt, Baumkullus, pp. 

at the. seasons of sowing and reaping, 480 sq. ; id., Mythologische Forschitn- 

lest they should destroy the crop. gen (Strasburg, 1884), p. 341. 

Only after the birth of another child 2 j. 'Br&nA t PopularAntiquities,\.l%l. 

does custom allow them to share again 3 My informant is Prof. W. Ridgeway. 

the labour of the fields. See H. The place was a field at the head of the 

Klose, Togo unter dentscher Flagge Dargle vale, near Enniskerry. 

io 4 


Relics of a 
custom of 


the growth 

sexes 6 


make the 

and when further we compare this particular custom with 
fa practice of representing the vernal powers of vegetation 

r r z 

by a bridal pair, and remember the traditions which even in 
our own countr y attach to May Day, 1 we shall probably do 
no injustice to our forefathers if we conclude that they once 
celebrated the return of spring with grosser rites, of which 
the customs I have referred to are only a stunted survival. 
Indeed, these rites in their grossest form are said to be still 
observed in various parts of Holland at Whitsuntide. 2 In 
some parts of Germany at harvest the men and women, who 
have reaped the corn, roll together on the field. 8 This 
again is probably a mitigation of an older and ruder custom 
designed to impart fertility to the fields by methods like 
those resorted to by the Pipiles of Central America long ago 
and by the cultivators of rice in Java at the present time. 
In Poso, when the rice-crop is not thriving, the farmer's wife 
sets bowls of rice and betel in various parts of the field ; then 
she lies down, draws her petticoat over her head, and pre- 
tends to fall asleep. But one of her children thereupon 
mimics the crowing of a cock, and at the sound she gets up, 
" because a new day has dawned." The intention of this 
ceremony, which the natives could not or would not explain 
to the Dutch missionary who reports it, may be to place the 
woman at the disposal of the god of the field. We are 
expressly told that there is a special god of the rice-fields 
named Puwe-wai, and that the ceremony in question is 
performed in his honour. 4 

To the student who cares to track the devious course of 
^ e human mind in its gropings after truth, it is of some 
interest to observe that the same theoretical belief in the 
sympathetic influence of the sexes on vegetation, which has 

1 See above, p. 67. 

2 G. W. W. C. Baron van Hoevell, 

in Internationales Archiv fur Ethno- 
... ... , o -\ . in. 

graphic, vni. (1895) p. 134 note. The 
yj/ r JT 

custom seems to go by the name of 

dauwtroppen or "dew-treading." As 

f i .... 
districts or places in which the practice 
_ f ;n i .1 c .u 

is still kept up the writer names South 
TT 11 , Vv j u t j 

Holland, Dordrecht, and Rotterdam. 

3 L. Strackerjan, Aberglaube tind 
Sagen aus dem Herzogthum Oldenburg 

(Oldenburg, 1867), ii. p. 78, 361; 
. Mannhardt ^^/^, p. 48, ; 
'* Mythologtsche Forschtmgen p. 340 

Compare Th. Siebs, "Das Saterland, 
7 .*1 .,., ,... ,', , , 
Zeitschrtft fur Volkskunde, ill. (189^?) 

P' ? '/' ~ -,,- -,. 

* A. C. Kruijt, " Een en ander 

, , . J ' .... 

aangaande net geestehjk en maatschap- 
b , r> Air 
peliik leven van den Poso-Alfoer. 
%, J , , ,. 
Meaedeehngen van wege net Neder- 

landsche Zendelinggenootsckap, xxxix. 
(1895) P- '3^' *&& x '- ( X 896) pp. l6sq. 


led some peoples to indulge their passions as a means of 
fertilising the earth, has led others to seek the same end by 
directly opposite means. From the moment that they sowed 
the maize till the time that they reaped it, the Indians of 
Nicaragua lived chastely, keeping apart from their wives and 
sleeping in a separate place. They ate no salt, and drank 
neither cocoa nor chicha, the fermented liquor made from 
maize ; in short the season was for them, as the Spanish 
historians observes, a time of abstinence. 1 To this day some 
of the Indian tribes of Central America practise continence, 
for the purpose of thereby promoting the growth of the crops. 
Thus we are told that before sowing the maize the Kekchi 
Indians sleep apart from their wives, and eat no flesh for five 
days, while among the Lanquineros and Cajaboneros the 
period of abstinence from these carnal pleasures extends to 
thirteen days. 2 So amongst some of the Germans of Tran- 
sylvania it is a rule that no man may sleep with his wife 
during the whole of the time that he is engaged in sowing 
his fields. 8 The same rule is observed at Kalotaszeg in 
Hungary ; the people think that if the custom were not 
observed the corn would be mildewed. 4 Similarly a Central 
Australian headman of the Kaitish tribe strictly abstains 
from marital relations with his wife all the time that he is 
performing magical ceremonies to make the grass grow ; 
for he believes that a breach of this rule would prevent 
the grass seed from sprouting properly. 5 In some of the 
Melanesian islands, when the yam vines are being trained, 
the men sleep near the gardens and never approach their 
wives ; should they enter the garden after breaking this 
rule of continence the fruits of the garden would be 

1 G. F. Oviedo y Valdes, Histoire of beans and of chilis, but only by 
du Nicaragua (published in Ternaux- Indians who do a large business in 
Compans' Voyages, relations et these commodities (ibid. p. 205). 
tnemoires originaux, etc.), Paris, 1840, 3 A> Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten u nd 
pp. 228 sq. ; A. de Herrera, General Gebrauc he unter den Sachscn Sieben- 
History of the Vast Continent and bUrgens (Hermannstadt, 1 880), p. 7. 
Islands called America ($>te\em?s trans- .. 

lation, London, 1725-26), iii. 298. * *; Temesvary, *"**** * 

2 C. Sapper, "Die Gebrauche und Aberglauben in der Geourtshilfe und 
religiosen Anschauungen der Kekchi- der Pflege der Neugebornen tn Ungarn 
Indianer," Internationales Archiv fur (Lepsic, 1900), p. 16. 
Ethnographie, vni. (1895) p. 203. 6 Spencer and Gillen, Northern 
Abstinence from women for several Tribes of Central Australia, p. 293. 
days is also practised before the sowing See above, vol. i. p. 88. 


Continence spoilt. 1 In the Motu tribe of New Guinea, when rain 
practised in k as f a u en plentifully and there is promise of a good crop 

order to * 

make the of bananas, one of the chief men becomes holy or taboo, 
cro ^ s and must live apart from his wife and eat only certain 
kinds of food. He bids the young men beat the drum and 
dance, " in order that by so doing there may be a large 
harvest. If the dancing is not given, there will be an end 
to the good growth ; but if it is continued, all will go well. 
People come in from other villages to assist, and will dance 
all night." 2 In the Mekeo district of British New Guinea, 
when a taboo has been put on the coco-nuts and areca-nuts 
to promote their growth, some fourteen or fifteen men act as 
watchmen to enforce the taboo. Every evening they go 
round the village armed with clubs and wearing masks or so 
covered with leaves that nobody would know them. All the 
time they are in office they may not chew betel nor drink 
coco-nut water, lest the areca-nuts (which are eaten with 
betel) and the coco-nuts should fail. Moreover, they may 
not live with their wives ; indeed, they may not even look at 
a woman, and if they pass one they must keep their eyes on 
the ground. 3 Among the Kabuis of Manipur, before the rice 
is sown and when it is reaped, the strictest chastity has to be 
observed, especially by the religious head of the village, who, 
besides always taking the omens on behalf of the villagers, 
is the first to sow and the first to reap. 4 Some of the 
tribes of Assam believe that so long as the crops remain 
ungarnered, the slightest incontinence might ruin all. 5 In the 
incense-growing region of Arabia in antiquity there were three 
families charged with the special care of the incense -trees. 
They were called sacred, and at the time when they cut the 
trees or gathered the incense they were forbidden to pollute 
themselves with women or with the contact of the dead ; 

1 R. H. Codrington, The Melanes- virtue'" (The Melanesia of British 
tans, p. 134. New Guinea, p. 101, note 2), 

3 A. C. Haddon, Head - hunters 

2 J. Chalmers, Pioneering in New (London, 1901), pp. 270-272, 275 sq\ 
Guinea (London, 1887), p. 181. The 4 T. C. Hodson, " The Native Tribes 
word which I have taken to mean of Manipur, "Journal of the Anthropo- 
"holy or taboo" is helaga. Mr. logical Institute, xxxi. (1901) p. 307. 
Chalmers does not translate or explain 5 T. C. Hodson, " The genna 
it. Dr. C. G. Seligmann says that the amongst the Tribes of Assam, "Journal 
word "conveys something of the idea of the Anthropological Institute, xxxvi. 
of 'sacred,' 'set apart,' 'charged with (1906) p. 94. 


the observance of these rules of ceremonial purity was be- 
lieved to increase the supply of incense. 1 Apparently the 
incense itself was deemed holy, for on being gathered it was 
deposited in the sanctuary of the Sun, where the merchants 
inspected and purchased it. 2 With ancient Greek husband- 
men it was a maxim that olives should always be planted 
and gathered by pure boys and virgins ; the uncommon 
fruitfulness of the olive-trees at Anazarbus in Cilicia was 
attributed to their being tended by young and innocent 
children. In default of such workers, the olive-gatherer had 
to swear that he had been faithful to his own wife ; for his 
fidelity was believed to ensure an abundant crop of fruit the 
following year. 3 

Again, the sympathetic relation supposed to exist illicit love 
between the commerce of the sexes and the fertility of the flight 1 
earth manifests itself in the belief that illicit love tends, the fruits 
directly or indirectly, to mar that fertility and to blight the 
crops. 4 Such a belief prevails, for example, among the 
Karens of Burma. They imagine that adultery or forni- 
cation has a powerful influence to injure the harvest. Hence 
if the crops have been bad for a year or two, and no rain 
falls, the villagers set down the dearth to secret sins of this 
kind, and say that the God of heaven and earth is angry 
with them on that account ; and they all unite in making 
an offering to appease him. Further, whenever adultery or 
fornication is detected, the elders decide that the sinners 
must buy a hog and kill it. Then the woman takes one 
foot of the hog, and the man takes another, and they scrape 
out furrows in the ground with each foot, and fill the 
furrows with the blood of the hog. Next they scratch the 
ground with their hands and pray : " God of heaven and 
earth, God of the mountains and hills, I have destroyed the 
productiveness of the country. Do not be angry with me, 
do not hate me ; but have mercy on me, and compassionate 
me. Now I repair the mountains, now I heal the hills, and 

1 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xii. 54 ; Solinus, Geoponica, ix. 3. 5 sg. 

xxxiii. 6sq., p. 1 66, ed. Th. Mommsen * With what follows compare 

(first edition). Psyche's Task, chapter iv. pp. 31 

2 Theophrastus, Histor. plant, ix. sqq., where I have adduced the same 
4. 5 sq. evidence to some extent in the same 

3 Palladius, De re rustics, i. 6. 14 ; words. 



illicit love the streams and the lands. May there be no failure of 
supposed crops may there be no unsuccessful labours, or unfortunate 

to blight J 

the fruits of efforts in my country. Let them be dissipated to the foot 
e earth. ^ ^ i lor j zon _ Make thy paddy fruitful, thy rice abundant. 
Make the vegetables to flourish. If we cultivate but little, 
still grant that we may obtain a little." After each has 
prayed thus, they return to the house and say they have 
repaired the earth. 1 The Battas of Sumatra think that if 
an unmarried woman is big with child, it is necessary to give 
her in marriage at once, even to a man of lower rank ; for 
otherwise the people will be infested by tigers, and the 
crops in the field will not yield an abundant return. The 
crime of incest, in their opinion, would blast the whole 
harvest if the wrong were not speedily repaired. Epidemics 
and other calamities that affect the whole people are almost 
always traced by them to incest, by which is to be under- 
stood any. marriage that conflicts with their customs. 2 

Similar views are held by various tribes of Borneo. Thus 
when the rain pours down steadily day after day and week 

may cause after week, and the crops are rotting in the fields, the Dyaks 
of Borneo come to the conclusion that some one has been 
indulging in fleshly lusts ; so the elders lay their heads 
together and adjudicate on all cases of incest and bigamy, 
and purify the earth with the blood of pigs, which appears 
to possess in a high degree the valuable property of atoning 
for moral guilt. For three days the villages are tabooed 
and all labour discontinued ; the inhabitants remain at home, 
and no strangers are admitted. Not long ago the offenders, 
whose lewdness had thus brought the whole country into 
danger, would have been punished with death or at least 
slavery. A Dyak may not marry his first cousin unless he 
first performs a special ceremony called bergaput to avert 
evil consequences from the land. The couple repair to 


and spoil 
the crops. 

1 F. Mason, " On dwellings, works 
of art, laws, etc., of the Karens," 

Journal of the Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, xxxvii. (1868) Part ii. pp. 
147 sq. Compare A. R. M'Mahon, 
The Karens of the Golden Chersonese 
(London, 1876), pp. 334 sq. 

2 J. B. Neumann, " Het Pane- en 
Bila - stroomgebied op het eiland 

Sumatra," Tijdschrift van het Neder- 
landsch Aardrijksknndig Genootschaf, 
Tweede Serie, dl. iii. Afdeeling, mecr 
uitgebreide artikelen, No. 3 (1886), 
pp. 514 sq. ; M. Joustra, " Het leven, 
de zed en en gewoonten der Bataks," 
Mededeelingen van wege het Neder- 
landsche Zendelinggenootschap, xlvi. 
(1902) p. 411. 


the water -side, fill a small pitcher with their personal 
ornaments, and sink it in the river ; or instead of a jar they 
fling a chopper and a plate into the water. A pig is then 
sacrificed on the bank, and its carcase, drained of blood, is 
thrown in after the jar. Next the pair are pushed into 
the water by their friends and ordered to bathe together. 
Lastly, a joint of bamboo is filled with pig's blood, and the 
couple perambulate the country and the villages round 
about, sprinkling the blood on the ground. After that they 
are free to marry. This is done, we are told, for the sake of 
the whole country, in order that the rice may not be blasted. 1 
The Bahaus or Kayans, a tribe in the interior of Borneo, Kayan 
believe that adultery is punished by the spirits, who visit the Jjfuher 
whole tribe with failure of the crops and other misfortunes, fornication 
Hence in order to avert these calamities from the innocent 
members of the tribe, the two culprits, with all their posses- 
sions, are put in quarantine on a gravel bank in the middle 
of the river ; then in order thoroughly to disinfect them, pigs 
and fowls are killed, and with the blood priestesses smear the 
property of the guilty pair. Finally the two are set on a 
raft, with sixteen eggs, and allowed to drift down the 
stream. They may save themselves by swimming ashore, 
but this is perhaps a mitigation of an older sentence of 
death by drowning. Young people shower long grass- 
stalks, which stand for spears, at the shamefaced and 
dripping couple. 2 The Blu-u Kayans of the same region 
similarly imagine that an intrigue between an unmarried 
pair is punished by the spirits with failure of the harvest, 
of the fishing, and of the hunt. Hence the delinquents 

1 H. Ling Roth, " Low's natives of In respectable Dyak families, when an 

Borneo," Journal of 'the Anthropological unmarried girl is found with child and 

Institute, xxi. (1892) pp. 113 sq., 133, the father is unknown, they sacrifice a 

xxii. (1893) P- 2 4 > *d., Natives of pig and sprinkle the doors with its 

Sarawak and British North Borneo, blood to wash away the sin (Spenser St. 

i. 401. Compare Rev. J. Perham, John, Life in the Forests of the Far 

" Petara, or Sea Dyak Gods, "Journal of East* i. 64). In Ceram a person 

the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic convicted of unchastity has to expiate 

Society, No. 8, December 1 88 1, p. 150; his guilt by smearing every house in the 

H. Ling Roth, Natives of Sarawak and village with the blood of a pig and a 

British North Borneo, i. 180. Accord- fowl. See A. Bastian, Indonesitn, i. 

ing to Archdeacon Perham, "Every (Berlin, 1884) p. 144. 
district traversed by an adulterer is 

believed to be accursed of the gods until 2 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer durck 

the proper sacrifice has been offered." Borneo (Leyden, 1904-1907), i. 367. 


have to appease the wrath of the spirits by sacrificing a pig 
and some rice. 1 

incest and Among the Macassars and Bugineese of Southern Celebes 
seduction j ncest j s a capital crime. "In the Bugineese language 
to be a this misdeed is called sApa-tAna, which, literally translated, 
bad* ' signifies that the ground (tAna) which has been polluted with 
weather the blood of such a person must above all be shunned (sdpa). 
oTcrops 1 ^ When we remember how afraid of evil spirits a native is in 
in Celebes, passing even a spot that has been stained with innocent 
blood, we can easily conceive what passes in his mind at the 
thought of the blood of one who has been guilty of such a 
crime. When the rivers dry up and the supply of fish runs 
short, when the harvest and the produce of the gardens mis- 
carry, when edible fruits fail, and especially when sickness 
is rife among the cattle and horses, as well as when civil 
strife breaks out and the country suffers from any other 
widespread calamity, the native generally thinks that earth 
and air have been sullied with the blood of persons who 
have committed incest. The blood of such people should 
naturally not be shed. Hence the punishment usually 
inflicted on them is that of drowning. They are tied up 
in a sack and thrown into the sea. Yet they get with them 
on their journey to eternity the necessary provisions, con- 
sisting of a bag of rice, salt, dried fish, coco-nuts and so on, 
not forgetting three quids of betel." 2 Among the Tomori 
of Central Celebes a person guilty of incest is throttled ; no 
drop of his blood may fall on the ground, for if it did, the 
rice would never grow again. The union of uncle and niece 
is regarded by these people as incest, but it can be expiated 
by an offering. A garment of the man and one of the 
woman are laid on a copper vessel ; the blood of a sacrificed 
animal, either a goat or a fowl, is allowed to drip on the 
garments, and then the vessel with its contents is suffered 

1 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer durch The similar Roman penalty for parri- 
Borneo, ii. 99 ; id. , In Centraal Borneo cide {Digest, xlviii. 9. 9; Valerius 
(Leyden, 1900), ii. 278. Maximus, i. I. 13 ; J. E. B. Mayor's 

2 B. F. Matthes, " Over de field's of note on Juvenal Sat. viii. 214) may 
gewoonten der Makassaren en Boeg- have been adopted for a similar reason, 
ineezen," Verslage'n en Mededeelingen But in that case the scourging which 
der koninklijke Akademie van Weten- preceded the drowning can hardly have 
schappen, Afdeeling Letterkunde, Derde been originally a part of the punish- 
Reeks, II. (Amsterdam, 1885) p. 182. ment. 


to float down the river. 1 Among the Tolalaki, another tribe 
of Central Celebes, persons who have defiled themselves with 
incest are shut up in a basket and drowned. No drop of 
their blood may be spilt on the ground, for that would hinder 
the earth from ever bearing fruit again. 2 When it rains in 
torrents, the Galelareese of Halmahera say that brother and 
sister, or father and daughter, or in short some near relations 
are having illicit relations with each other, and that every 
human being must be informed of it, for then only will the 
rain cease to descend. The superstition has repeatedly caused 
blood relations to be accused, rightfully or wrongfully, of in- 
cest. The people also regard other alarming natural pheno- 
mena, for instance a violent earthquake or the eruption of a 
volcano, as consequences of crimes of the same sort. Persons 
charged with such offences are brought to Ternate ; it is 
said that formerly they were often drowned on the way 
or, on being haled thither, were condemned to be thrown 
into the volcano. 8 

In some parts of Africa, also, it is believed that breaches Breaches 
of sexual morality disturb the course of nature, particularly 

by blighting the fruits of the earth. Thus the negroes of supposed 

} . r . , to prevent 

Loango suppose that the intercourse of a man with an rain and so 
immature girl is punished by God with drought and con- l b i'g ht 

. .the fruits 

sequent famine, until the culprits atone for their sin by O f the 
dancing naked before the king and an assembly of the people, e ^ a in 
who throw hot gravel and bits of glass at the pair. For 
example, in the year 1898, it was discovered that a long 
drought was caused by the misconduct of three girls, who 
were with child before they had passed through what is 
called the paint-house, that is, before they had been painted 
red and secluded for a time in token that they had attained 
to the age of puberty. The people were very angry and 

1 A. C. Kruijt, "Eenige ethno- Verhalen en Overleveringen der 
grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de Galelareezen," Bijdragen tot de Taal- 
Toboengkoe en de Tomori," Mededeel- Land- en Volkenkunde van Neder- 
ingen van wege het Nederlandsche Zen- landsch - Indie, xlv. (1895) p. 514. 
delinggenootschap, xliv. (1900) p. In the Banggai Archipdngo, to the 
235 east of Celebes, earthquakes are ex- 

2 A. C. Kruijt, "Van Posso naar plained as punishments inflicted by 
Mori," Mededeelingen van wege het evil spirits for indulgence in illicit love 
Nederlandsche Zendelinggenootschap, (F. S. A. de Clercq, Bijdragen tot de 
xliv. (1900) p. 162. Kennisder Residentie Tentate (Leydcn, 

3 M. J. van Baarda, " Fabelen, 1890), p. 132). 


Breaches tried to punish or even kill the girls. 1 Amongst the Bavili 
of sexual ^ L oan r O j t j s believed that if a man breaks the marriage 


supposed law by marrying a woman of his mother's clan, God will in 
rainTnTso like manner punish the crime by withholding the rains in 
to blight their due season. 2 Similar notions of the blighting influence 
the earth in f sexual crime appear to be entertained by the Nandi of 
Africa. British East Africa, for amongst them a girl who has been 
gotten with child by a warrior, may never look inside of a 
granary for fear of spoiling the corn. 3 Among the Basutos 
likewise " while the corn is exposed to view, all defiled persons 
are carefully kept from it. If the aid of a man in this state 
is necessary for carrying home the harvest, he remains at 
some distance while the sacks are filled, and only approaches 
to place them upon the draught oxen. He withdraws as 
soon as the load is deposited at the dwelling, and under no 
pretext can he assist in pouring the corn into the baskets 
in which it is preserved." 4 The nature of the defilement 
which thus disqualifies a man for handling the corn is not 
mentioned, but probably it would include unchastity. We 
may conjecture that it was for a similar reason that the Basoga 
of Central Africa used to punish severely the seduction of a 
virgin. " If a man was convicted of such a crime, and the 
woman's guilt was discovered, he and she were sent at night 
time to Kaluba's village, where they were tied to a tree. This 
tall spreading incense-tree was thought to be under the protec- 
tion of a spirit called Kakua Kambuzi. Next morning the 
erring couple were discovered by people in the surrounding 
plantations, who released them. They were then allowed to 
settle near the tree of the protecting spirit." This practice 
of tying the culprits to a sacred tree may have been thought 
to atone for their crime and so to ensure the fertility of the 
earth which they had imperilled. The notion perhaps was 
to deliver the criminals into the power of the offended tree- 
spirit ; if they were found alive in the morning, it was a sign 
that he had pardoned them. " Curiously enough, the Basoga 

1 O. Dapper, Description de TAfrique 3 A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, their 
(Amsterdam, 1686), p. 326; R. E. Language and Folk-lore (Oxford, 1909), 
Dennett, At the Back of the Black p. 76. 

Man's Mind (London, 1906), pp. 53, 
- 67-71. * Rev. E. Casalis, The Basutos 

2 R. E. Dennett, op. cit. p. 52. (London, 1861), p. 252. 


also held in great abhorrence anything like incest amongst 
domestic animals that is to say, they greatly disapproved 
of intercourse between a bull calf and its mother-cow, or 
between a bull and a cow that were known to be brother 
and sister. If this occurred, the bull and cow were sent by 
night to a fetish tree and tied there. The next morning 
the chief of the district appropriated the animals and turned 
them to his own use." 1 Following out the same train of incest of 
thought, the Toradjas of Central Celebes ingeniously employ ^J^ 
the incest of animals as a rain-charm. For they believe that as a rain- 
the anger of the gods at incest or bestiality manifests itself Africa. '" 
in the form of violent storms, heavy rain, or long drought. 
Accordingly they think that it is always in their power to 
enrage the gods by committing incest and so to procure 
rain when it is needed. However, they abstain from per- 
petrating the crime among themselves, first, because it 
would be necessary to put the culprits to death, and second, 
because the storms thus raised would be so furious that 
they would do more harm than good. But they fancy that the 
incest, real or simulated, of animals is a lighter offence, which 
by discomposing, without exasperating, the higher powers 
will disturb the balance of nature just enough to improve 
the weather. A ceremony of this sort was witnessed by a 
missionary. Rain was wanted, and the headman of the 
village had to see that it fell. He took his measures 
accordingly. Attended by a crowd he carried a cock and 
a little sow to the river. Here the animals were killed, laid 
side by side in an intimate embrace, and wrapped tightly up 
in a piece of cotton. Then the headman engaged in prayer. 
" O gods above and gods below," said he, " if you have pity 
on us, and will that we eat food this year, give rain. If you 
will not give rain, well we have here buried a cock and a 
sow in an intimate embrace." By which he meant to say, 
" Be angry at this abomination which we have committed, 
and manifest your anger in storms." ~ 

These examples suffice to prove that among many savage 
races breaches of the marriage laws are thought to blast the 

1 Sir Harry Johnston, The Uganda regen verdrijven bij de Toradja's van 
Protectorate (London, 1902), ii. 718 Midden Celebes," Tijdschrift voor In- 
sq. dische Tool- Land- en Volkenkunde, 

2 A. C. Kruijt, "Regen lokken en xliv. (1901) p. 4. 



Similar fruits of the earth through excessive rain or excessive drought. 
notions of Similar notions of the disastrous effects of sexual crimes may 

the blight- ........ 

ing effect be detected among some of the civilised races of antiquity, 

Ina w ^ seem not to have limited the supposed sterilising influ- 

be detected ence of such offences to the fruits of the earth, but to have 

extended it also to women and cattle. 1 Thus among the 
races of Hebrews we read how Job, passionately protesting his 
antiqi ity, j nnocence before God, declares that he is no adulterer ; 
example, j? or that," says he, " were an heinous crime ; yea, it were an 
jew; ng iniquity to be punished by the judges : for it is a fire that 
consumeth unto Destruction, and would root out all mine 
increase." 5 In this passage the Hebrew word translated 
" increase " commonly means " the produce of the earth ; " 3 
and if we give the word its usual sense here, then Job affirms 
adultery to be destructive of the fruits of the ground, which 
is just what many savages still believe. This interpretation 
of his words is strongly confirmed by two narratives in 
Genesis, where we read how Sarah, Abraham's wife, was 
taken into his harem by a king who did not know her to be 
the wife of the patriarch, and how thereafter God visited the 
king and his household with great plagues, especially by 
closing up the wombs of the king's wives and his maid- 
servants, so that they bore no children. It was not till the 
king had discovered and confessed his sin, and Abraham had 
prayed God to forgive him, that the king's women again 
became fruitful. 4 These narratives seem to imply that 
adultery, even when it is committed in ignorance, is a cause 
of plague and especially of sterility among women. Again, 
in Leviticus, after a long list of sexual crimes, we read: 5 
" Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things : for in all 
these the nations are defiled which I cast out from before 
you : and the land is defiled : therefore I do visit the 

1 Probably a similar extension of the suffer from other calamities. See 

superstition to animal life occurs also Colonel P. R. T. Gurdon, The Khasis 

among savages, though the authorities (London, 1907), pp. 94, 123. 

I have consulted do not mention it. A 2 Job xxxi. n sq. (Revised Version). 

trace, however, of such an extension 3 nxnn. See Hebrew and English 

appears in a belief entertained by the Lexicon,' by F. Brown, S. R. Driver, 

Khasis of Assam, that if a man defies an d Ch. A. Briggs (Oxford, 1906), p. 

tribal custom by marrying a woman of IQO. 

his own clan, the women of the tribe * Genesis xii. 10-20 xx. 1-18. 

will die in childbed and the people will 5 Leviticus xviii. 24 so. 


iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomiteth out her 
inhabitants." This passage appears to imply that the land 
itself was somehow physically tainted by sexual transgressions 
so that it could no longer support the inhabitants. 

It would seem that the ancient Greeks and Romans Blighting 
entertained similar notions as to the wasting effect of incest. effe ^ 


According to Sophocles the land of Thebes suffered from to incest 
blight, from pestilence, and from the sterility both of women ^ c ient 
and of cattle under the reign of Oedipus, who had unwittingly Greeks and 
slain his father and wedded his mother, and the Delphic Ir 
oracle declared that the only way to restore the prosperity 
of the country was to banish the sinner from it, as if 
his mere presence withered plants, animals, and women. 1 
No doubt the poet and his hearers set down these public 
calamities in great part to the guilt of parricide, which 
rested on Oedipus ; but they can hardly have failed to 
lay much also of the evil at the door of his incest with his 
mother. Again, in ancient Italy, under the Emperor Claudius, 
a Roman noble was accused of incest with his sister. He 
committed suicide, his sister was banished, and the emperor 
ordered that certain ancient ceremonies traditionally derived 
from the laws of King Servius Tullius should be performed, 
and that expiation should be made by the pontiffs at the 
sacred grove of Diana, 2 probably the famous Arician grove, 
which has furnished the starting-point of our enquiry. 
As Diana appears to have been a goddess of fertility in 
general and of the fruitfulness of women in particular, the 
atonement made at her sanctuary for incest may perhaps be 
accepted as evidence that the Romans, like other peoples, 
attributed to sexual immorality a tendency to blast the fruits 
both of the earth and of the womb. This inference is 
strengthened by a precept laid down by grave Roman writers 
that bakers, cooks, and butlers ought to be strictly chaste 
and continent, because it was most important that food and 
cups should be handled either by persons under the age of 
puberty, or at all events by persons who indulged very 
sparingly in sexual intercourse ; for which reason if a baker, 
a cook, or a butler broke this rule of continence it was his 
bounden duty to wash in a river or other running water 

1 Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 22 sqq. t 95 sqq. 2 Tacitus, Annals, xii. 4 and 8. 


before he applied himself again to his professional duties. 
But for all such duties the services of a boy or of a virgin 
were preferred. 1 The Celts of ancient Ireland similarly 
believed that incest blighted the fruits of the earth. Accord- 
ing to legend Munster was afflicted in the third century 
of our era with a failure of the crops and other mis- 
fortunes. When the nobles enquired into the matter, 
they were told that these calamities were the result of 
an incest which the king had committed with his sister. 
In order to put an end to the evil they demanded of the 
king his two sons, the fruit of his unholy union, that they 
might consume them witty fire and cast their ashes into 
the running stream. However, one of the sons, Core 
by name, is said to have been purged of his inherited 
taint by being sent out of Ireland to an island, where a 
Druid purified him every morning, by putting him on the 
back of a white cow with red ears, and pouring water 
over him, till one day the cow jumped into the sea and 
became a rock, no doubt taking the sin of Core's father 
away with her. After that the boy was brought back to 
Erin. 2 

Belief in Thus the belief that incest or sexual crime in general 

ing effect nas Pwer to blast the fruits of the earth is widespread and 
of incest probably goes back to a very remote antiquity ; it may long 
helped to have preceded the rise of agriculture. We may conjecture 

institute that in its origin the belief was magical rather than religious ; 

bidden in other words, that the blight was at first supposed to be 

degrees. a dj rec t consequence of the act itself rather than a punish- 

ment inflicted on the criminal by gods or spirits. Conceived 

as an unnatural union of the sexes, incest might be thought 

to subvert the regular processes of reproduction, and so to 

prevent the earth from yielding its fruits and to hinder 

animals and men from propagating their kinds. At a later 

time the anger of spiritual beings would naturally be invoked 

in order to give a religious sanction to the old taboo. If this 

1 Columella, Dere rustica, xii. 2 sq., translated by J. O'Mahony (New York, 
appealing to the authority of M. Ambi- 1857), pp. 337 sq. ; P. W. Joyce, 
vius, Maenas Licinius, and C. Matius. Social History of Ancient Ireland 
See on this subject below, p. 205. (London, 1903), ii. 512 sq. ; J. Rhys, 

Celtic Heathendom (London and Edin- 

s G. Keating, History of Ireland, burgh, 1888), pp. 308 sq. 


was so, it is possible that something of the horror which 
incest has excited among most, though by no means all, 
races of men, sprang from this ancient superstition and has 
been transmitted as an instinct in many nations long after 
the imaginary ground of it had been forgotten. Certainly 
a course of conduct which was supposed to endanger or 
destroy the general supply of food and therefore to strike 
a blow at the very life of the whole people, could not but 
present itself to the savage imagination as a crime of the 
blackest dye, fraught with the most fatal consequences to 
the public weal. How far such a superstition may in the 
beginning have operated to prevent the union of near kin, 
in other words, to institute the system of prohibited degrees 
which still prevails among the great majority of mankind, 
both savage and civilised, is a question which deserves to be 
considered by the historians of marriage. 1 

If we ask why it is that similar beliefs should logically Expiana- 
lead, among different peoples, to such opposite modes of tu 
conduct as strict chastity and more or less open debauchery, contradic- 
the reason, as it presents itself to the primitive mind, is j^g"^ 6 
perhaps not very far to seek. If rude man identifies him- customs, 
self, in a manner, with nature ; if he fails to distinguish the 
impulses and processes in himself from the methods which 
nature adopts to ensure the reproduction of plants and 
animals, he may leap to one of two conclusions. Either 
he may infer that by yielding to his appetites he will 
thereby assist in the multiplication of plants and animals ; 
or he may imagine that the vigour which he refuses to 
expend in reproducing his own kind, will form as it 
were a store of energy whereby other creatures, whether 
vegetable or animal, will somehow benefit in propagating 
their species. Thus from the same crude philosophy, the 
same primitive notions of nature and life, the savage may 
derive by different channels a rule either of profligacy or 
of asceticism. 

To readers bred in a religion which is saturated with indirect 
the ascetic idealism of the East, the explanation which I ^ e e fit of of 
have given of the rule of continence observed under certain these 
circumstances by rude or savage peoples may seem far-fetched Sou, 

1 Compare Tottmism and Exogamy, iv. 153 sqq. 


The ascetic and improbable. They may think that moral purity, which 
T* of is so intimately associated in their minds with the observance 

chastity J 

not under- of such a rule, furnishes a sufficient explanation of it ; they 
thesava e ma y holci with Milton l that chastity in itself is a noble 
virtue, and that the restraint which it imposes on one of 
the strongest impulses of our animal nature marks out those 
who can submit to it as men raised above the common herd, 
and therefore worthy to receive the seal of the divine appro- 
bation. However natural this mode of thought may seem 
to us, it is utterly foreign and indeed incomprehensible to 
the savage. If he resists on occasion the sexual instinct, it 
is from no high idealism, no ethereal aspiration after moral 
purity, but for the sake of some ulterior yet perfectly definite 
and concrete object, to gain which he is prepared to sacrifice 
the immediate gratification of his senses. That this is or 
may be so, the examples I have cited are amply sufficient 
to prove. They shew that where the instinct of self-pre- 
servation, which manifests itself chiefly in the search for food, 
conflicts or appears to conflict with the instinct which con- 
duces to the propagation of the species, the former instinct, 
as the primary and more fundamental, is capable of over- 
mastering the latter. In short, the savage is willing to 
restrain his sexual propensity for the sake of food. Another 
object for the sake of which he consents to exercise the same 
self-restraint is victory in war. Not only the warrior in the 
field but his friends at home will often bridle their sensual 
appetites from a belief that by so doing they will the more 

1 " Next (for hear me out now, afterward any of them by word or deed 

readers) that I may tell ye whither my breaking that oath, I judged it the 

younger feet wandered ; I betook me same fault of the poet as that which is 

among those lofty fables and romances attributed to Homer, to have written 

which recount in solemn cantos the indecent things of the gods. Only 

deeds of knighthood founded by our this my mind gave me, that every free 

victorious kings, and from hence had and gentle spirit, without that oath, 

in renown over all Christendom. There ought to be born a knight, nor needed 

I read it in the oath of every knight to expect the gilt spur or the laying of 

that he should defend to the utmost a sword upon his shoulder to stir him 

expense of his best blood, or of his up both by his counsel and his arm, to 

life, if it so befell him, the honour and secure and protect the weakness of any 

chastity of virgin or matron; from attempted chastity" (Milton, "Apology 

whence even then I learned what a for Smectymnuus," Complete Collection 

noble virtue chastity sure must be, to of the Historical, Political, and Afis- 

the defence of which so many worthies, cellaneous Works of John Milton (Lon- 

by such a dear adventure of themselves, don, 1738), vol. i. p. in), 
had sworn ; and if I found in the story 


easily overcome their enemies. 1 The fallacy of such a belief, 
like the belief that the chastity of the sower conduces to the 
growth of the seed, is plain enough to us ; yet perhaps the 
self-restraint which these and the like beliefs, vain and false 
as they are, have imposed on mankind, has not been without 
its utility in bracing and strengthening the breed. For strength 
of character in the race as in the individual consists mainly 
in the power of sacrificing the present to the future, of dis- 
regarding the immediate temptations of ephemeral pleasure 
for more distant and lasting sources of satisfaction. The 
more the power is exercised the higher and stronger becomes 
the character ; till the height of heroism is reached in men 
who renounce the pleasures of life and even life itself for 
the sake of keeping or winning for others, perhaps in distant 
ages, the blessings of freedom and truth. 

1 For examples of chastity observed by the warriors themselves in the field 

at home by the friends of the absent will be given in the second part of this 

warriors, see above, vol. i. pp. 128, 131, work. Meanwhile see The Golden 

133. Examples of chastity observed Bough^\. 328, note 2. 


I . Diana as a Goddess of Fertility 

Dramatic IN the last chapter we saw that according to a widespread 
mar " ages belief, which is not without a foundation in fact, plants repro- 
goddesses duce their kinds through the sexual union of male and female 
to promo elements, and that on the principle of homoeopathic or imitative 
vegetation, magic this reproduction can be stimulated by the real or 
mock marriage of men and women, who masquerade for the 
time being as spirits of vegetation. Such magical dramas have 
played a great part in the popular festivals of Europe, and 
based as they are on a very crude conception of natural law, 
it is clear that they must have been handed down from a 
remote antiquity. We shall hardly, therefore, err in assuming 
that they date from a time when the forefathers of the civilised 
nations of Europe were still barbarians, herding their cattle 
and cultivating patches of corn in the clearings of the vast 
forests, which then covered the greater part of the continent, 
from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Ocean. But if these 
old spells and enchantments for the growth of leaves and 
blossoms, of grass and flowers and fruit, have lingered down to 
our own time in the shape of pastoral plays and popular merry- 
makings, is it not reasonable to suppose that they survived in 
less attenuated forms some two thousand years ago among 
the civilised peoples of antiquity ? Or, to put it otherwise, 
is it not likely that in certain festivals of the ancients we 
may be able to detect the equivalents of our May Day, 
Whitsuntide, and Midsummer celebrations, with this difference, 


that in those days the ceremonies had not yet dwindled into 
mere shows and pageants, but were still religious or magical 
rites, in which the actors consciously supported the high 
parts of gods and goddesses ? Now in the first chapter of 
this book we found reason to believe that the priest who 
bore the title of King of the Wood at Nemi had for his 
mate the goddess of the grove, Diana herself. May not he 
and she, as King and Queen of the Wood, have been 
serious counterparts of the merry mummers who play the King 
and Queen of May, the Whitsuntide Bridegroom and Bride 
in modern Europe? and may not their union have been 
yearly celebrated in a theogamy or divine marriage ? Such 
dramatic weddings of gods and goddesses, as we shall see 
presently, were carried out as solemn religious rites in many 
parts of the ancient world ; hence there is no intrinsic 
improbability in the supposition that the sacred grove at 
Nemi may have been the scene of an annual ceremony of 
this sort. Direct evidence that it was so there is none, but 
analogy pleads in favour of the view, as I shall now 
endeavour to shew. 

Diana was essentially a goddess of the woodlands, as Diana a 
Ceres was a goddess of the corn and Bacchus a god of the ^ "j^ 53 
vine. 1 Her sanctuaries were commonly in groves, indeed woodlands. 
every grove was sacred to her, 2 and she is often associated 
with the forest god Silvanus in dedications. 3 We must not Sanctity of 
forget that to the ancients the sanctity of a holy grove was ^J ves in 
very real and might not be violated with impunity. For antiquity. 
example, in Attica there was a sanctuary of Erithasean 
Apollo, and it was enacted by law that any person caught in 
the act of cutting trees in it, or carrying away timber, fire- 
wood, or fallen leaves, should be punished with fifty stripes, 
if he was a slave, or with a fine of fifty drachms, if he was a 
freeman. The culprit was denounced by the priest to the king, 
that is, to the sacred official or minister of state who bore the 

1 Speaking of the one God who 2 Servius on Virgil, Georg. iii. 

reveals himself in many forms and 332: "TV./w, itt diximus, et oninis 

under many names, Augustine says : quercus Jovi est consecrate, et omnis 

" Ipse in aether e sit Jupiter, ipse in lucus Dianae." 

cure Juno, ipse in mare Neptunus ... 3 W. H. Roscher, Lexikon dergriec h. 

Liber in vitieis, Ceres in frumentis, tind rbm. Mythologic, i. 1005 ; H. 

Diana in silvis" etc. (De civitate Dei, Dessau, Inscriptions Latinae selectae, 

iv. II). Nos. 3266-3268. 


royal title. 1 Similarly it was the duty of the sacred men at 
Andania, in Messenia, to scourge slaves and fine freemen 
who cut wood in the grove of the Great Goddesses. 2 In 
Crete it was forbidden, under pain of curses and fines, to 
fell timber, sow corn, and herd or fold flocks within the 
precinct of Dictaean Zeus. 3 In Italy like customs prevailed. 
Near Spoletium there was a sacred grove from which 
nothing might be taken, and in which no wood might be 
cut except just so much as was needed for the annual 
sacrifice. Any person who knowingly violated the sanctity 
of the grove had to expiate his offence by sacrificing an ox 
to Jupiter, and to pay besides a fine of three hundred pence. 4 
In his treatise on farming Cato directs that before thinning 
a grove the Roman husbandman should offer a pig as an 
expiatory sacrifice to the god or goddess of the place, and 
should entreat his or her favour for himself, his children, and 
his household. 5 The Fratres Arvales or Brethren of the 
Tilled Fields were a Roman college of twelve priests, who 
performed public religious rites for the purpose of making 
the crops to grow, and they wore wreaths of ears of corn as 
a badge of their office. 6 Their sacrifices were offered in the 
grove of the goddess Dia, situated five miles down the Tiber 
from Rome. So hallowed was this grove, which is known 
to have included laurels and holly-oaks, that expiatory 
sacrifices of sows and lambs had to be offered when a rotten 
bough fell to the ground, or when an old tree was laid low 
by a storm or dragged down by a load of snow on its 
branches. And still more elaborate expiation had to be 
made with the slaughter of sows, sheep, and bulls when any 
of the sacred trees were struck by lightning and it was 
necessary to dig them up by the roots, split them, burn 
them, and plant others in their room. 7 At the annual 

1 Dittenberger, Sylloge inscriptionum lines 80 sqq. Compare id. No. 569 ; 
Graecarum,'* No. 568 ; Ch. Michel, Pausanias, ii. 28. 7. 

Recneil d 'inscriptions grecques, No. 4 H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae 

686 ; E. S. Roberts, Introduction to selectae, No. 4911. 

Greek Epigraphy, ii., No. 139. 6 Cato, De agri cultura, 139. 

2 Dittenberger, op. cit. No. 653, 6 Varro, De lingua Latina, v. 85, 
lines 79 sqq. ; Ch. Michel, op. cit., ed. C. O. Muller ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. 
No. 694. As to the grove see xviii. 6. 

Pausanias, iv. 33. 4 sq. 7 G. Henzen, Acta Fro/rum Arva- 

3 Dittenberger, op. cit., No. 929, Hum (Berlin, 1874), pp. 136-143; H. 


festival of the Parilia, which was intended to ensure the 
welfare of the flocks and herds, Roman shepherds prayed to 
be forgiven if they had entered a hallowed grove, or sat 
down under a sacred tree, or lopped a holy bough in order 
to feed a sick sheep on the leaves. 1 

Nor was this sense of the indwelling divinity of the Sense of 
woods confined to the simple rustics who, tending their ^ e w ^ it 
flocks in the chequered shade, felt the presence of spirits in shared by 
the solemn stillness of the forest, heard their voices in the Roman 
sough of the wind among the branches, and saw their writers. 
handiwork in the fresh green of spring and the fading gold 
of autumn. The feeling was shared by the most cultivated 
minds in the greatest age of Roman civilisation. Pliny says 
that " the woods were formerly the temples of the deities, 
and even now simple country folk dedicate a tall tree to a 
god with the ritual of the olden time ; and we adore sacred 
groves and the very silence that reigns in them not less 
devoutly than images that gleam with gold and ivory." 2 
Similarly Seneca writes : " If you come upon a grove of old 
trees that have shot up above the common height and shut 
out the sight of the sky by the gloom of their matted 
boughs, you feel there is a spirit in the place, so lofty is the 
wood, so lone the spot, so wondrous the thick unbroken 
shade." 3 

Thus the ancients, like many other people in various The break- 
parts of the world, were deeply impressed with the sanctity 

of holy groves, and regarded even the cutting of a bough in Bough a 
them as a sacrilege which called for expiation. If therefore solemn sig- 
a candidate for the priesthood of Diana at Nemi had to nificance, 
break a branch of a certain tree in the sacred grove before p i ec e of 
he could fight the King of the Wood, we may be sure that bray ado. 
the act was a rite of solemn significance, and that to treat it 
as a mere piece of bravado, a challenge to the priest to come 
on and defend his domain, would be to commit the commonest 
of all errors in dealing with the past, that, namely, of inter- 

Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae selectae, 3 Seneca, Epist. iv. 12. 3. See 

ii., Nos. 5042, '5043, 5045, 5046, further L. Preller, Romischc Mytho- 
5048. logic? i. 1 08 sqq. For evidence of the 

poets he refers to Virgil, Georg. iii. 

1 Ovid, Fash, iv. 749-755- ^ ^ . Tibullus> L Vn ; Ovid, 

2 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xii. 3. A mores, iii. I. I sq. 


preting the customs of other races and other generations by 
reference to modern European standards. In order to 
understand an alien religion the first essential is. to divest 
ourselves, as well as we can, of our own familiar preposses- 
sions, and to place ourselves at the point of view of those 
whose faith and practice we are studying. To do this at all 
is difficult ; to do it completely is perhaps impossible ; yet 
the attempt must be made if the enquiry is to progress 
instead of returning on itself in a vicious circle. 

Diana not But whatever her origin may have been, Diana was not 
goddess always a mere goddess of trees. Like her Greek sister 
of trees, Artemis, she appears to have developed into a personifica- 
Artemis! a tion f the teeming life of nature, both animal and vegetable. 
personifi- As mistress of the greenwood she would naturally be thought 
the teem- to own the beasts, whether wild or tame, that ranged through 
mg hfe of it ? lurking for their prey in its gloomy depths, munching the 
both ' fresh leaves and shoots among the boughs, or cropping the 
animal and herbage in the open glades and dells. Thus she might come 


A deity of to ^ e t ^ ie patron goddess both of hunters and herdsmen, just 
the woods as Silvanus was the god not only of woods, but of cattle. 2 
Similarly in Finland the wild beasts of the forest were regarded 

as the herds of the woodland God Tapio and of his stately 
the woods, an d beautiful wife. No man might slay one of these animals 
both game without the gracious permission of their divine owners. 

and cattle. .... 

rience the hunter prayed to the sylvan deities, and vowed 
rich offerings to them if they would drive the game across 
his path. And cattle also seem to have enjoyed the protec- 
tion of those spirits of the woods, both when they were in 
their stalls and while they strayed in the forest. 8 So in the 
belief of Russian peasants the spirit Leschiy rules both the 
wood and all the creatures in it. The bear is to him what 
the dog is to man ; and the migrations of the squirrels, the 
field-mice, and other denizens of the woods are carried out in 
obedience to his behests. Success in the chase depends on 
his favour, and to assure himself of the spirit's help the 

1 On Diana as a huntress see H. 2 Virgil, Aen. t viii. 600 sg., with 

Dessau, Inscriptions* Latinae seleclae, Servius's note. 
Nos. 3257-3266. For indications of 

her care for domestic cattle see Livy, 3 M. A. Castren, Vorlesungen iiber 

i. 45 ; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, die finnischt Mythologie (St. Peters- 

4 ; and above, vol. i. p. 7. burg, 1853), pp. 92-99. 


huntsman lays an offering, generally of bread and salt, on 
the trunk of a tree in the forest. In White Russia every 
herdsman must present a cow to Leschiy in summer, and in 
the Government of Archangel some herdsmen have won his 
favour so far that he even feeds and tends their herds for 
them. 1 Similarly the forest-god of the Lapps ruled over all 
the beasts of the forest ; they were viewed as his herds, and 
good or bad luck in hunting depended on his will. 2 So, too, 
the Samagitians deemed the birds and beasts of the woods 
sacred, doubtless because they were under the protection of 
the sylvan god. 3 Before the Gayos of Sumatra hunt deer, 
wild goats, or wild pigs with hounds in the woods, they 
deem it necessary to obtain the leave of the unseen Lord 
of the forest. This is done according to a prescribed form 
by a man who has special skill in woodcraft. He lays down 
a quid of betel before a stake which is cut in a particular 
way to represent the Lord of the Wood, and having done 
so he prays to the spirit to signify his consent or refusal. 4 

We have seen that at Diana's festival it was customary The 
to crown hunting dogs, to leave wild beasts in peace, and to 
perform a purificatory ceremony for the benefit of young dogs on 
people. 5 Some light is thrown on the meaning of these ^y^vas 
customs by a passage in Arrian's treatise on hunting. He probably a 
tells us that a good hound is a boon conferred by one of the t p ^ c c e * e _ 
gods upon the huntsman, who ought to testify his gratitude ony to 
by sacrificing to the Huntress Artemis. Further, Arrian 

goes on to say : " It is right that after a successful chase a the i uilt 

,7,. - . / i i * having 

man should sacrifice and dedicate the first-fruits of his bag killed 
to the goddess, in order to purify both the hounds and the s ame - the 

r * creatures 

hunters, in accordance with old custom and usage. He tells O f the 
us that the Celts were wont to form a treasury for the goddess god 
Artemis, into which they paid a fine of two obols for every 
hare they killed, a drachm for every fox, and four drachms 
for every roe. Once a year, on the birthday of Artemis, 

1 P. v. Stenin, " Uber den Geister- Asiana atque Europea," in Novus Orbis 

glauben in Russland," Globus, Ivii. regionum ac insularum veteribus in- 

(1890), p. 283: cognitarum, p. 457. 

8 J. Abercromby, The Pre- and * C. Snouck Hurgronje, Het Gajo- 

Proto-historic Finns (London, 1898), land en eijne Bewoners (Batavia, 1903), 

i. 161. pp. 35 1 . 359- 

8 Mathias Michov, " De Sarmatia 6 See vol. i. p. 14. 


The crown- they opened the treasury, and with the accumulated fines 
igdogs nt a purchased a sacrificial victim, it might be a sheep, a goat, or 
form of a ca if. Having slain the animal and offered her share to the 
Huntress Artemis, they feasted, both men and dogs ; and 
they crowned the dogs on that day " in order to signify," 
says Arrian, " that the festival was for their benefit." 1 The 
Celts to whom Arrian, a native of Bithynia, here refers were 
probably the Galatians of Asia Minor ; but doubtless the 
custom he describes was imported by these barbarians, along 
with their native tongue 2 and the worship of the oak, 3 from 
their old home in Central or Northern Europe. The Celtic 
divinity whom Arrian identifies with Artemis may well have 
been really akin both to her and to the Italian Diana. We 
know from other sources that the Celts revered a woodland 
goddess of this type ; thus Arduinna, goddess of the forest 
of the Ardennes, was represented, like Artemis and Diana, 
with a bow and quiver. 4 In any case the custom described 
by Arrian is good evidence of a belief that the wild beasts 
belong to the goddess of the wilds, who must be compensated 
for their destruction ; and, taken with what he says of the 
need of purifying the hounds after a successful chase, the 
Celtic practice of crowning them at the annual festival of 
Artemis may have been meant to purge them of the stain 
they had contracted by killing the creatures of the goddess. 
The same explanation would naturally apply to the same 
custom observed by the Italians at the festival of Diana. 
Cattle But why, it may be asked, should crowns or garlands 

crowned to cleanse dogs from the taint of bloodshed ? An answer to 
them from this question is indicated by the reason which the South 
witchcraft. Slavonian peasant assigns for crowning the horns of his cows 
with wreaths of flowers on St. George's Day, the twenty- 
third of April. He does it in order to guard the cattle 
against witchcraft ; cows that have no crowns are regarded 

1 Arrian, Cynegeticus, 33 sq. Patrologia Latina, vol. xxvi. col. 

2 The Galatians retained their Celtic 357). 

speech as late as the fourth century of 3 See below, p. 363. 

our era, for Jerome says that in his day 4 H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae 

their language hardly differed from selectae, No. 4633 ; Ihm, in Pauly- 

that of the Treveri, a Celtic tribe on Wissowa's Real-Encydopddie der classi- 

the Moselle, whose name survives in schen Altertumswissenschaft, ii. 616, 

Treves. See Jerome, Commentar. in s.v. " Arduinna " ; compare id. i. 

Epist. adGalatas, lib. ii. praef. (Migne's 104, s.v. " Abnoba." 


as given over to the witches. In the evening the chaplets 
are fastened to the door of the cattle-stall, and remain there 
throughout the year. A herdsman who fails to crown his 
beasts is scolded and sometimes beaten by his master. 1 The 
German and French custom of crowning cattle on Midsummer 
Day 2 probably springs from the same motive. For on Mid- 
summer Eve, just as on Walpurgis Night, witches are very 
busy holding their nocturnal assemblies and trying to steal 
the milk and butter from the cows. To guard against them 
some people at this season lay besoms crosswise before the 
doors of the stalls. Others make fast the doors and stop up 
the chinks, lest the witches should creep through them on 
their return from the revels. In Swabia all the church bells 
used to be kept ringing from nine at night till break of day 
on Midsummer morning to drive away the infernal rout from 
honest folk's houses. South Slavonian peasants are up 
betimes that morning, gather the dew from the grass, and 
wash the cows with it ; that saves their milk from the 
hellish charms of the witches. 8 

Now when we observe that garlands of flowers, like Similarly 
hawthorn and other green boughs, 4 avail to ward off the ^ " w 
unseen powers of mischief, we may conjecture that the hunting 
practice of crowning dogs at the festival of a huntress ogs r 

1 F. S. Krauss, Volksglaube und asses and mill-stones were crowned at 
religioner Branch der Sudslaven Vesta's festival on the ninth of June 
(Miinster i. W., 1890), p. 125. (Propertius, v. i. 21 ; Ovid, Fasti, vi. 

2 J. H. Schmitz, Sitten und Brduche, 311 sq.). The original motive of all 
Lieder, Sprtichwbrter und Rdthsel these customs may have been the one 
des Eifler Volkes (Treves, 1856-1858), indicated in the text. Perhaps the 
i. 42 sq. ; A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, same explanation might be found to 
Norddeutsche Sagen, Mdrchen und . apply to certain other cases of wearing 
Gebrduche, pp. 393 sq. ; Ch. Beau- wreaths or crowns. 

quier, Les Mois en Franche-Comti 3 Tettau und Temme, Die Volkssagen 

(Paris, 1900), p. 90. In Sweden and Ostpreussens, Litthauens und West- 

parts of Germany cattle are crowned preussens, pp. 263 sq. ; A. Kuhn und 

on the day in spring when they are W. Schwartz, Norddeutsche Sagen, 

first driven out to pasture, which is Mdrchen und Gebrduche, p. 392 ; 

sometimes at Whitsuntide (A. Kuhn, Reinsberg - Duringsfeld, Das festliche 

Die Herabkunft des Feuers, 2 pp. 163 JaAr, p. 181 ; id., Calendrier beige, 

sq.; L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden, i. 423 sq.; A. Birlinger, Volksthum- 

pp. 246 sq., A. Kuhn, Mdrkische liches aus Schwaben, i. p. 278, 437 ; 

Sagen und Mdrchen, pp. 315 sq., R. Eisel, Sagenbuch des Voigtlandes, 

327 sq.; P. Drechsler, Sitte, Brauch p. 210; F. J. Wiedemann, Aus dem 

und Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. 123). inneren unddusseren Leben der Ehsten, 

Amongst the Romans cattle were p. 363 ; F. S. Krauss, Volksglaube und 

crowned at the Ambarvalia (Tibullus, religioser Brauch de r Sudslaven, p. 128. 

ii. i. 7 sq.; Ovid, Fasti, i. 663) ; and * See above, pp. 52-55. 



have been 
meant to 

against the 
spirits of 
the beasts 
they had 

as the 
Diana was 
also a 
of crops 
and of 

goddess was intended to preserve the hounds from the 
angry and dangerous spirits of the wild beasts which they 
had killed in the course of the year. Fantastical as this 
explanation may sound to us, it is perfectly in accordance 
with the ideas of the savage, who, as we shall see later on, 
resorts to a multitude of curious expedients for disarming 
the wrath of the animals whose life he has been obliged to 
take. Thus conceived, the custom in question might still 
be termed a purification ; but its original purpose, like that 
of many other purificatory rites, would be not so much to 
cleanse moral guilt, as to raise a physical barrier against the 
assaults of malignant and mischievous spirits. 1 

But Diana was not merely a patroness of wild beasts, a 
mistress of woods and hills, of lonely glades and sounding 
rivers ; conceived as the moon, and especially, it would seem, 
as the yellow harvest moon, she filled the farmer's grange 
with goodly fruits, and heard the prayers of women in 
travail. 2 In her sacred grove at Nemi, as we have seen, she 
was especially worshipped as a goddess of childbirth, who 
bestowed offspring on men and women. 3 Thus Diana, like 
the Greek Artemis, with whom she was constantly identified, 
may be described as a goddess of nature in general and of 
fertility in particular. 4 We need not wonder, therefore, 
that in her sanctuary on the Aventine she was represented 
by an image copied from the many-breasted idol of the 
Ephesian Artemis, with all its crowded emblems of exuberant 
fecundity. 5 Hence too we can understand why an ancient 

1 In Nepaul a festival known as 
Khicha Puja is held, at which worship 
is offered to dogs, and garlands of 
flowers are placed round the necks of 
every dog in the country (W. Crooke, 
Popular Religion and Folk-lore of 
Northern India, Westminster, 1896, 
ii. 221). But as the custom is appar- 
ently not limited to hunting dogs, the 
explanation suggested above would 
hardly apply. 

2 Catullus, xxxiv. 9-20 ; Cicero, 
De natura deorum, ii. 26. 68 sq.; 
Varro, De lingua Latina, v. 68 sq. 
It deserves to be remembered that 
Diana's day was the thirteenth of 
August, which in general would be 
the time when the splendid harvest 

moon was at the full. Indian women 
in Peru used to pray to the moon to 
grant them an easy delivery. See P. 
J. de Arriaga, Extirpation de la 
idolatria del Piru (Lima, 1621), 
p. 32. 

3 See above, vol. i. p. 12. 

4 In like manner the Greeks con- 
ceived of the goddess Earth as the 
mother not only of corn but of cattle 
and of human offspring. See the 
Homeric Hymn to Earth (No. 30). 

5 Strabo, iv. i. 4 and 5, pp. 
179 sq. The image on the Aventine 
was copied from that at Marseilles, 
which in turn was copied from the one 
at Ephesus. 


Roman law, attributed to King Tullius Hostilius, prescribed 
that, when incest had been committed, an expiatory sacrifice 
should be offered by the pontiffs in the grove of Diana. 1 
For we know that the crime of incest is commonly supposed 
to cause a dearth ; 2 hence it would be meet that atonement 
for the offence should be made to the goddess of fertility. 

Now on the principle that the goddess of fertility must As a god- 
herself be fertile, it behoved Diana to have a male partner, 

Her mate, if the testimony of Servius may be trusted, was Diana had 
that Virbius who had his representative, or perhaps rather be fertile, 
his embodiment, in the King of the Wood at Nemi. 3 The a d for 
aim of their union would be to promote the fruitfulness of purpose 
the earth, of animals, and of mankind ; and it might natur- ^^ d a 
ally be thought that this object would be more surely partner. 
attained if the sacred nuptials were celebrated every year, 
the parts of the divine bride and bridegroom being played 
either by their images or by living persons. No ancient 
writer mentions that this was done in the grove at Nemi ; 
but our knowledge of the Arician ritual is so scanty that the 
want of information on this head can hardly count as a fatal 
objection to the theory. That theory, in the absence of 
direct evidence, must necessarily be based on the analogy of 
similar customs practised elsewhere. Some modern examples 
of such customs, more or less degenerate, were described in 
the last chapter. Here we shall consider their ancient 

2. The Marriage of the Gods 

At Babylon the imposing sanctuary of Bel rose like a Marriages 
pyramid above the city in a series of eight towers or stories, o d !? e in 
planted one on the top of the other. On the highest tower, Babylonia 
reached by an ascent which wound about all the rest, there 
stood a spacious temple, and in the temple a great bed, 
magnificently draped and cushioned, with a golden table 
beside it. In the temple no image was to be seen, and no 
human being passed the night there, save a single woman, 
whom, according to the Chaldaean priests, the god chose 

1 Tacitus, Annals, xii. 8. The incest, might result in some public 

Romans feared that the marriage of calamity (Tacitus, Annals, xii. 5). 
Claudius with his paternal cousin 8 See above, pp. 107 sqq. 

Agrippina, which they regarded as 3 See above, vol. i. pp. 20 sg. t 40. 




of the gods 
in Baby- 
lonia and 

of the god 
Ammon to 
the Queen 
of Egypt. 

from among all the women of Babylon. They said that the 
deity himself came into the temple at night and slept in the 
great bed ; and the woman, as a consort of the god, might 
have no intercourse with mortal man. 1 As Bel at Babylon 
was identified with Marduk, the chief god of the city, 2 the 
woman who thus shared his bed was doubtless one of the 
" wives of Marduk " mentioned in the code of Hammurabi. 3 
At Calah, which was for some time the capital of Assyria 
before it was displaced by Nineveh, 4 the marriage of the god 
Nabu appears to have been annually celebrated on the third of 
the month lyyar or Airu, which corresponded to May. For 
on that day his bed was consecrated in the city, and the god 
entered his bedchamber, to return to his place on the 
following day. The ceremonies attending the consecration 
of the couch are minutely described in a liturgical text. 
After the appropriate offerings had been presented, the 
officiating priestess purified the feet of the divine image with 
a sprig of reed and a vessel of oil, approached the bed thrice, 
kissed the feet of the image, then retired and sat down. 
After that she burned cedar wood dipped in wine, set before 
the image the heart of a sheep wrapped in a cloth, and 
offered libations. Aromatic woods were consecrated and 
burnt, more libations and offerings were made, tables were 
spread for various divinities, and the ceremony ended with a 
prayer for the King. The god also went in procession to a 
grove, riding in a chariot beside his charioteer. 5 

At Thebes in Egypt a woman slept in the temple of 
Ammon as the consort of the god, and, like the human wife 
of Bel at Babylon, she was said to have no commerce with 

1 Herodotus, i. 181 sq. 

2 M. Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia 
And Assyria, pp. 117 sq. ; L. W. 
King, Babylonian Mythology and 
Religion, pp. 18, 21. 

3 H. Winckler, Die Gesetze Ham- 
murabis' 1 (Leipsic, 1903), p, 31 
182. The expression is translated 
" votary of Marduk " by Mr C. H. W. 
Johns (Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, 
Contracts, and Letters, Edinburgh, 1 904, 
p. 60). " The votary of Marduk is 
the god's wife vowed to per- 
petual chastity, and is therefore dis- 
tinct from the devotees of Istar. Like 

the ordinary courtesan, these formed a 
separate class and enjoyed special 
privileges " (S. A. Cook, The Laws of 
Moses and the Code of Hammurabi, 
London, 1903, p. 148). 

4 M. Jastrow, op. cit. pp. 42 sq. 

5 C. Johnston in Journal of the 
American Oriental Society, xviii. First 
Half (1897), pp. 153-155; R- F. 
Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian 
Literature (New York, 1901), p. 249. 
For the equivalence of lyyar or Airu 
with May see Encyclopaedia Biblica, 
s.v. "Months," iii. coll. 3193 sq. 


a man. 1 In Egyptian texts she is often mentioned as " the 
divine consort," and usually she was no less a personage 
than the Queen of Egypt herself. For, according to the 
Egyptians, their monarchs were actually begotten by the 
god Ammon, who assumed for the time being the form of 
the reigning king, and in that disguise had intercourse with 
the queen. The divine procreation is carved and painted in 
great detail on the walls of two of the oldest temples in 
Egypt, those of Deir el Bahari and Luxor ; and the inscrip- 
tions attached to the paintings leave no doubt as to the 
meaning of the scenes. The pictures at Deir el Bahari, 
which represent the begetting and birth of Queen Hatshop- 
sitou, are the more ancient, and have been reproduced with 
but little change at Luxor, where they represent the beget- 
ting and birth of King Amenophis III. The nativity is 
depicted in about fifteen scenes, which may be grouped in 
three acts : first, the carnal union of the god with the queen ; 
second, the birth ; and third, the recognition of the infant 
by the gods. The marriage of Ammon with the queen is 
announced by a prologue in heaven ; Ammon summons his 
assessors, the gods of Heliopolis, reveals to them the future 
birth of a new Pharaoh, a royal princess, and requests them 
to make ready the fluid of life and of strength, of which they 
are masters. Then the god is seen approaching the queen's 
bedchamber ; in front of him marches Thoth, with a roll 
of papyrus in his hand, who, to prevent mistakes, recites the 
official names of the queen, the spouse of the reigning king 
(Thothmes I. at Deir el Bahari, Thothmes IV. at Luxor), 
the fairest of women. Then Thoth withdraws behind Ammon, 
lifting his arm behind the god in order to renew his vital 
fluid at this critical moment. Next, according to the inscrip- 
tion, the mystery of incarnation takes place. Ammon lays 
aside his godhead and becomes flesh in the likeness of the 
king, the human spouse of the queen. The consummation 
of the divine union follows immediately. On a bed of state 
the god and the queen appear seated opposite each other, 
with their legs crossed. The queen receives from her hus- 
band the symbols of life and strength, while two goddesses, 
Neit and Selkit, the patronesses of matrimony, support the 

1 Herodotus, i. 182. 


Marriage feet of the couple and guard them from harm. The text 
of the god ^j^ encloses the scene sets forth clearly the reality of this 

Ammon to 

the Queen mystic union of the human with the divine. " Thus saith 
' gypt ' Ammon-Ra, king of the gods, lord of Karnak, he who rules 
over Thebes, when he took the form of this male, the King 
of Upper and Nether Egypt, Thothmes I. (or Thothmes IV.), 
giver of life. He found the queen then when she lay in the 
glory of her palace. She awoke at the fragrance of the god, 
and marvelled at it. Straightway his Majesty went to- 
wards her, took possession of her, placed his heart in her, 
and shewed himself to her in his divine form. And upon 
his coming she was uplifted at the sight of his beauty, the 
love of the god ran through all her limbs, and the smell of 
the god and his breath were full of the perfumes of Pounit. 
And thus saith the royal spouse, the royal mother Ahmasi 
(or Moutemouaa), in presence of the majesty of this glorious 
god, Ammon, lord of Karnak, lord of Thebes, ' Twice great 
are thy souls ! It is noble to behold thy countenance when 
thou joinest thyself to my majesty in all grace ! Thy dew 
impregnates all my limbs.' Then, when the majesty of the 
god had accomplished all his desire with her, Ammon, the 
lord of the two lands, said to her : ' She who is joined to 
Ammon, the first of the nobles, verily, such shall be the name 
of the daughter who shall open thy womb, since such is the 
course of the words that came forth from thy mouth. She 
shall reign in righteousness in all the earth, for my soul is 
hers, my heart is hers, my will is hers, my crown is hers, 
truly, that she may rule over the two lands, that she may 
guide the souls of all living.' " 

Nativity of After the begetting of the divine child for we must 

e dmne remember that the kings and queens of Egypt were regarded 

kings as divinities in their lifetime another series of scenes repre- 

on P th S e ented sents the ^shioning of its body and its birth. The god 

monu- Khnoumou, who in the beginning of time moulded gods 

and men on his potter's wheel, is seen seated at his wheel 

modelling the future king or queen and their doubles those 

spiritual duplicates or external souls which were believed 

to hover invisible about both men and gods all through life. 

In front of Khnoumou kneels Hiqit, the frog-headed goddess, 

" the great magician " ; she is holding out to the newly- 


created figures the symbol of life, the crux ansata ?, in order 
that they may breathe and live. Another scene represents 
the birth. At Deir el Bahari the queen has already been 
delivered, and is presenting her daughter to several goddesses, 
who have acted the part of midvvives. At Luxor the double 
of the royal infant is born first ; the goddesses who serve as 
nurses have him in their arms, and the midwives are pre- 
paring to receive the real child. Behind the queen are the 
goddesses who watch over childbirth, led by Isis 'and Neph- 
thys ; and all around the spirits of the East, the West, the 
North, and the South are presenting the symbol of life or 
uttering acclamations. In a corner the grotesque god Bes 
and the female hippopotamus Api keep off all evil influence 
and every malignant spirit. 

We shall probably not err in assuming, with some These 
eminent authorities, that the ceremonies of the nativity of [ 
the Pharaohs, thus emblazoned on the walls of Egyptian ably 
temples, were copied from the life ; in other words, that the f^ the 
carved and painted scenes represent a real drama, which life - 
was acted by masked men and women whenever a queen 
of Egypt was brought to bed. " Here, as everywhere else 
in Egypt," says Professor Maspero, " sculptor and painter 
did nothing but faithfully imitate reality. Theory required 
that the assimilation of the kings to the gods should be 
complete, so that every act of the royal life was, as it were, 
a tracing of the corresponding act of the divine life. From 
the moment that the king was Ammon, he wore the costume 
and badges of Ammon the tall hat with the long plumes, 
the cross of life, the greyhound-headed sceptre and thus 
arrayed he presented himself in the queen's bedchamber to 
consummate the marriage. The assistants also assumed the 
costume and appearance of the divinities whom they incar- 
nated ; the men put on masks of jackals, hawks, and 
crocodiles, while the women donned masks of cows or frogs, 
according as they played the parts of Anubis, Khnoumou, 
Sovkou, Hathor, or Hiqit ; and I am disposed to believe 
that the doubles of the new-born child were represented by 
as many puppets as were required by the ceremonies. 
Some of .the rites were complicated, and must have tked 
excessively the mother and child who underwent them ; but 


they are nothing to those that have been observed in similar 
circumstances in other lands. In general, we are bound to 
hold that all the pictures traced on the walls of the temples, 
in. which the person of the king is concerned, correspond 
to a real action in which disguised personages played the 
part of gods." l 

Human In the decline of Egypt from the eleventh century 

wives of onwa rd, the wives of Ammon at Thebes were called 

Ammon in 

the decline on to play a conspicuous part in the government of 
of Egypt. t j ie coun t r y The strong grip of the Pharaohs was 
relaxed and under their feeble successors the empire 
crumbled away into a number of petty independent 
states. In this dissolution of the central authority the 
crafty high priests of Ammon at Thebes contrived to 
usurp regal powers and to reign far and wide in the name 
of the deity, veiling their rescripts under the guise of oracles 
of the god, who, with the help of a little jugglery, com- 
placently signified his assent to their wishes by nodding 
his head or even by speech. But curiously enough under 
this pretended theocracy the nominal ruler was not the 
priest himself, but his wife, the earthly consort of Ammon. 
Thus Thebes became for a time a ghostly principality 
governed ostensibly by. a dynasty of female popes. Their 
office was hereditary, passing by rights from mother to 
daughter. But probably the entail was, often broken by 
the policy or ambition of the men who stood behind the 
scenes and worked the religious puppet-show by hidden 
wires to the awe and astonishment of the gaping vulgar. 
Certainly we know that on one occasion King Psammetichus 
First foisted his own daughter into the Holy See by dedi- 
cating her to Ammon under a hypocritical profession of 
gratitude for favours bestowed on him by the deity. And 
the female pope had to submit to the dictation with the 

1 G. Maspero, in Journal des Sav- masquerades in which the king and 

ants, annee 1899, pp. 401-406 ; A. other men and women figured as gods 

Moret, Du caracttre religieux de la and goddesses. As to the Egyptian 

royauti Pharaoniqne (Paris, 1902), pp. doctrine of the spiritual double or ex- 

48-73; A. Wiedemann, Herodots ternal soul (Ka), see A. Wiedemann, 

zweites Buck (Leipsic, 1890), pp. 268 The Ancient Egyptian Doctrine of the 

sq. M. Moret shares the view of Immortalityof the Soul (Lon&on, 1895), 

Prof. Maspero that the pictures, or pp. IO sqq. 
rather painted reliefs, were copied from 


best grace she could assume, protesting her affection for 
the adopted daughter who had ousted her own daughter 
from the throne. 1 

At a later period, when Egypt lay under the heel of Human 
Rome, the character of " the divine consort " of Ammon " n ^ " 
at Thebes had greatly changed. For at the beginning of in Roman 
our era the custom was to appoint a young and beautiful Ul 
girl, the scion of one of the noblest houses, to serve 
Ammon as his concubine. The Greeks called these 
maidens Pallades, apparently after their own virgin goddess 
Pallas ; but the conduct of the girls was by no means 
maidenly, for they led the loosest of lives till puberty. Then 
they were mourned over and given in marriage. 2 Their 
graves were shown near Thebes. 3 The reason why their 
services ended at puberty may have been that as concubines 
of the god they might not bear children to mortal fathers ; 
hence it was deemed prudent to terminate their relations 
with the divinity before they were of an age to become 
mothers. It was an Egyptian doctrine that a mortal woman 
could conceive by a god, but that a goddess could not con- 
ceive by a mortal man. 4 The certainty of maternity and 
the uncertainty of paternity suggest an obvious and prob- 
ably sufficient ground for this theological distinction. 

Apollo was said to spend the winter months at Patara Apollo and 
in Lycia and the summer months in the island of Delos, and P h e ^ r s at 
accordingly he gave oracles for one half of the year in the Patara. 
one place, and for the other half in the other. 5 So long as 
he tarried at Patara, his prophetess was shut up with him 
in the temple every night. 6 At Ephesus there was a college The 
of sacred men called Essenes or King Bees who held office Artemis at 
for a year, during which they had to observe strict chastity Ephesus. 
and other rules of ceremonial purity. 7 How many of them 

1 A. Erman, Die dgyptische Reli- pp. 350 sq., 357 sq. ; C. P. Tiele, 

gion (Berlin, 1905, pp. 75, 165 sq. ; Gesehichte der Religion im Altertum, 

compare id. , Agypten und dgyptisches \. (Gotha, 1896) p. 66. 
Leben im Altertum, pp. 400^. As 2 Strabo, xvii. I. 46, p. 816. 

to the ghostly rule of the high priests 3 Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, i. 47. 

of Ammon at Thebes see further G. * Plutarch, Quaestiones conviviales, 

Maspero, Histoire ancienne des peuples viii. I. 6 sq. ; id., Numa, 4. 
de F Orient classique, les premieres 5 Servius on Virgil, Aen, iv. 143. 

mttees des peuples (Paris, 1897), pp. Compare Horace, Odes, iii. 62 sqq, 
5S9 s 'N-> J- tt- Breasted, A History of 6 Herodotus, i. 182. 
the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1908), T Pausanias, viii. 13. i. As to the 




The there were at a time we do not know, but there must have 

\rterri It been several, for in Ephesian inscriptions they are regularly 
Ephesus. referred to in the plural. They cannot have been bound to 
lifelong celibacy, for in one of the inscriptions an Essen 
mentions his wife. 1 Possibly they were deemed the annual 
husbands of Artemis, the great many-breasted goddess of 
fertility at Ephesus, whose association with the bee is 
vouched for by the figures of bees which appear commonly 
both on her statues and on the coins of Ephesus. 2 If this 
conjecture is right, the King Bees and their bee -goddess 
Artemis at Ephesus would be closely parallel to the King of 
the Wood and his woodland-goddess Diana at Nemi, as these 
latter are interpreted by me. The rule of chastity imposed 
on the King Bees during their year of office would be easily 
explicable on this hypothesis. As the temporary husbands 
of the goddess they would be expected for the time being to 
have no intercourse with mortal women, just as the human 
wives of Bel and Ammon were supposed to have no 
commerce with mortal men. 
Marriage At Athens the god of the vine, Dionysus, was annually 

mar " e d to the Queen, and it appears that the consummation 
Queen at of the divine union, as well as the espousals, was enacted at 
the ceremony ; but whether the part of the god was played 
by a man or an image we do not know. Attic law required 
that the Queen should be a burgess and should never have 
known any man but her husband. She had to offer certain 

meaning of the title Essen see Calli- 
machus, Hymn to Zeus, 16 ; Hesychius, 
Suidas, and Etymologicum Magnum, 
s.v. "Eff<ri)i>. The ancients mistook 
the Queen bee for a male, and hence 
spoke of King bees. See Aristotle, 
Histor. animal, v. 21 sq., ix. 40, pp. 
553' 623 sqq., ed. Bekker ; id., De 
animalium generatione, iii. IO, p. 760, 
ed. Bekker ; Aelian, Nat. animal. \. 
IO, v. 10 sq. ; Virgil, Georg. iv. 21, 
68 ; W. Walter-Tornow, De opium 
mellisque apud veteres significatione 
(Berlin, 1894), pp. 30 sqq. The 
Essenes or King Bees are not to be 
confounded with the nominal kings 
(Basileis) of Ephesus, who probably 
held office for life. See above, vol. i. 
P- 47- 

J J. T. Wood, Discoveries at Ephesus, 
Inscriptions from the Temple of Diana, 
pp. 2, 14 ; Inscriptions from the 
Augusteum, p. 4 ; Inscriptions from 
the City and Suburbs, p. 38. 

2 See B. V. Head, Coins of Ephesus 
(London, 1880), and above, vol. i. pp. 
Z1 S 1- Modern writers sometimes assert 
that the priestesses of the Ephesian 
Artemis were called Bees. Certain 
other Greek priestesses were un- 
doubtedly called Bees, and it seems 
not improbable that the priestesses of 
the Ephesian Artemis bore the same 
title and represented the goddess in 
her character of a bee. But no ancient 
writer, so far as I know, affirms it. See 
my note on Pausanias, viii. 13. I. 


secret sacrifices on behalf of the state, and was permitted to 
see what no foreign woman might ever behold, and to enter 
where no other Athenian might set foot. She was assisted 
in the discharge of her solemn functions by fourteen sacred 
women, one for each of the altars of Dionysus. The old 
Dionysiac festival was held on the twelfth day of the month 
Anthesterion, corresponding roughly to our February, at 
the ancient sanctuary of Dionysus in the Marshes, which 
was never opened throughout the year save on that one 
day. At this festival the Queen exacted an oath of 
purity and chastity from the fourteen sacred women at the 
altar. Possibly her marriage was celebrated on the same 
day, though of that we have no positive evidence, and we 
learn from Aristotle that the ceremony took place, not 
at the sanctuary in the marshes, but in the old official 
residence of the King, known as the Cattle-stall, which stood 
near the Prytaneum or Town-hall on the north-eastern slope 
of the Acropolis. 1 But whatever the date of the wedding, 
its object can hardly have been any other than that of 
ensuring the fertility of th; vines and other fruit-trees, of 
which Dionysus was the god. Thus both in form and in 
meaning the ceremony would answer to the nuptials of the 
King and Queen of May. Again, the story, dear to poets 

1 Demosthenes, Contra Neaer. 73- which were held in them, it is tempting 
78, pp. 1369-1371 ; Aristotle, Con- to conjecture that the sacred marriage 
stitution of Athens, iii. 5 ; Hesychius, took place in the Marriage Month 
s.w. Aiovtjffov and 7 * papal ; (Gamelion), answering to our January. 
Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. yepaipai ; But more probably that month was 
Pollux, viii. 108 ; K. F. Hermann, named after the sacred marriage of 
Gottesdienstlichc Alterthumer? 32. 15, Zeus and Hera, which was celebrated 
58. 1 1 sqq. ; Aug. Mommsen, Feste at Athens and elsewhere. See below, 
der Stadt Athen im Altertum (Leipsic, p. 143. This is the view of W. H. 
1898), pp. 391 sqq. From Demos- Roscher (Juno und Hera, p. 73, n. 
thenes, I.e., compared with Thucydides, 217) and Aug. Mommsen (Feste der 
ii. 15, it seems certain that the oath Stadt Athen, p. 383). From the name 
was administered by the Queen at the Cattle-stall, applied to the scene of the 
time and place mentioned in the text. marriage, Miss J. E. Harrison in- 
Formerly it was assumed that her geniously conjectured that in the rite 
marriage to Dionysus was celebrated Dionysus may have been represented 
at the same place and time ; but the as a bull (Prolegomena to the Study of 
assumption as to the place was dis- Greek Religion, p. 537). The con- 
proved by the discovery of Aristotle's jecture was anticipated by Prof. U. 
Constitution of Athens, and with it the von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Arts- 
assumption as to the time falls to the toteles und Athen (Berlin, 1893), ii. 
ground. As the Greek months were 42. Dionysus was often conceived by 
commonly named after the festivals the Greeks in the form of a bull. 


Dionysus and artists, of the forsaken and sleeping Ariadne, waked and 
and wedded by Dionysus, resembles so closely the little drama 

acted by French peasants of the Alps on May Day, 1 that, 
considering the character of Dionysus as a god of vegeta- 
tion, we can hardly help regarding it as the reflection of a 
spring ceremony like the French one. In point of fact the 
marriage of Dionysus and Ariadne was believed by Preller 
to have been acted every spring in Crete. 2 His evidence, 
indeed, is inconclusive, but the view itself is probable. If I 
am right in comparing the two, the chief difference between 
the French and the Greek ceremonies appears to have been 
that in the former the sleeper was a forsaken bridegroom, in 
the latter a forsaken bride ; and the group of stars in the 
sky, in which fancy saw Ariadne's wedding crown, 3 may have 
been only a translation to heaven of the garland worn by 
the Greek girl who played the Queen of May. 

Marriage If at Athens, and probably elsewhere, the vine-god was 

of Zeus married to a queen in order that the vines might be loaded 

with n 

Demeter at with clusters of grapes, there is reason to think that a 
,ieusis. marriage of a different kind, intended to make the fields 
wave with yellow corn, was annually celebrated not many 
miles off, beyond the low hills that bound the plain of 
Athens on the west. In the great mysteries solemnised at 
Eleusis in the month of September the union of the sky- 
god Zeus with the corn-goddess Demeter appears to have 
been represented by the union of the hierophant with the 
priestess of Demeter, who acted the parts of god and 
goddess. But their intercourse was only dramatic or 
symbolical, for the hierophant had temporarily deprived 
himself of his virility by an application of hemlock. The 
torches having been extinguished, the pair descended into a 
murky place, while the throng of worshippers awaited in 
anxious suspense the result of the mystic congress, on which 
they believed their own salvation to depend. After a time 
the hierophant reappeared, and in a blaze of light silently 
exhibited to the assembly a reaped ear of corn, the fruit of 
the divine marriage. Then in a loud voice he proclaimed, 

1 Above, pp. 92 sq. his Griechische Mythologie^ ed. C. 

2 L. Preller, Ausgewahlte Aufsdtze Robert, i. 68 1 sqq. 

(Berlin, 1864), pp. 293-296; compare 3 Hyginus, Astronomica, i. 5. 




" Queen Brimo has brought forth a sacred boy Brimos," by 
which he meant, " The Mighty One has brought forth the 
Mighty." The corn-mother in fact had given birth to her 
child, the corn, and her travail-pangs were enacted in the 
sacred drama. 1 This revelation of the reaped corn appears 
to have been the crowning act of the mysteries. Thus 
through the glamour shed round these rites by the poetry 
and philosophy of later ages there still looms, like a distant 
landscape through a sunlit haze, a simple rustic festival 

1 Tertullian, Ad nat tones, ii. 7, 
" Cur rapitur sacerdos Cereris si non 
iate Ceres passa est?" Asterius Ama- 
senus, Encomium in sanctos martyres, 
in Migne's Patrologia Graeca, xl. col. 
324, OVK tKel (at Eleusis) TO KaTafidffiov 
Tb ffKOTeivdv, Kal al crefj.val TOV lepo- 
(f>dvTQv irpbs TT]V lepeiav ffWTVxlai, 

fffievvwrai, Kal 6 iroXi>y Kal dvapLOfj.-rjros 
ST)/J.OS TTIV ffUTrjptav avrwv elcai vofd- 
foi/tri Ta (v T(p ffKortf irapa TUIV Suo 
jrpaTr6fj,fva ; Psellus, Quaenam sunt 
Graecorum of intones de daemonibus, p. 
39, ed. J. F. Boissonade, Ta 84 ye 
/j.vffT^pia TOVTUV, ola avTlKa Ta 'EXeu- 
ffivia, TOV fjiv6iKbv viroKplverai Afa 
UJ.yvvfj.evov Trj ATyot, ffyovv T-Q Ai7/ii>rpt 
. . . 'TiroKplveTai 5e Kal rds Trjs ArjoOs 
tiSTvay. 'iKCTTjp/at yovv avrlKO. Arjovs 
Kal xoX?)s Travis Kal KapSiaXyiai. 'E^>' 
o?s Kai Tt TpayoffKeXes fjdfj/rjfia ira.6aj.vb- 
fj.evov irepl roty 5t5ty/xoty, Sri-rep 6 
5tKa$ dwoTivvvs r^y /3/ay r 
Tpdyov 6pxeis diroTfj.<j}v, 
rai/TTjy KaTfOeTo Sxrirtp di) Kal eavrov 
(compare Arnobius, Adversus nationes, 
v. 20-23) ! Schol. on Plato, Gorgias, 
p. 497 c, 'EreXetVo 5^ Tavra (the Eleu- 
sinian mysteries) KOI Aijot *cai Kopj), 
Sn Tavn/jv fiv H\ovrii)v dpird!-eie, Aijot 
dt fuydr) Zei/y ; Hippolytus, Refutatio 
omnium haeresium, v. 8, pp. 162, 
164, ed. Duncker and Schneidewin, 
Atyovcri Si avrbv (God), <p^(fl, 4>pi^yey 
Kal x^ oe P ol> ffTdxw Tcffepifffdvov, Kal 
fjiera roi)y i'p^ay 'AOrjvaiot fivovvrts 
'E\tv<rlvta, Kal twiSetKvuvTes ro?y iv- 
oirTfvovai Tb fJ^ya. Kal 0av/jMffTbv Kal 

iv ffiuiry, Tfdeptfffdvov ffTdxw '0 
aTaxvs oCr6y foTt Kal irapa 'A6 
o irapa TOV dxo-po-KTi}plffTOV <fXi)ffTi\p 
r^Xeioy fj.4yas, Kaffdirep awr6y 6 Zepo- 
<pdvTi)s, OVK diroKfKOfJ.idvos fUv, <iy 6 
"Amy, evvovx'icff^ v os St Sia Kuveiov 
Kal iraffav iraprfrr)fj.{vos TT\V ffapKiKTjv 

ytveaiv, VVKT^S 4v 'EXeuaiW virb 
irvpl Te\uv ret ^ie7cXa Kal appifra 
fj.vtrr/ipia /3o Kal K^Kpaye \tywv lepbv 
treKe ir6Tvia Kovpov Bpt/xw Bpt,u6^, 
TovTtvTiv Irxypa Icr-xypbv- In combin- 
ing and interpreting this fragmentary 
evidence I have followed Mr. P. 
Foucart (Recherches sur Forigine et la 
nature des mysteres d Eleusis, Paris, 
i895,pp.48^.; id.,Les Grands My stores 
d 1 Eleusis, Paris, 1900, p. 69), and Miss 
J. E. Harrison {Prolegomena to the Study 
of Greek Religion, pp. 549 sqq.). In 
antiquity it was believed that an 
ointment or plaster of hemlock applied 
to the genital organs prevented them 
from discharging their function. See 
Dioscorides, De materia medica, iv. 
79; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxv. 154. 
Dr. J. B. Bradbury, Downing Pro- 
fessor of Medicine in the University of 
Cambridge, informs me that this belief is 
correct. "Although conium [hemlock] 
is not used as an anaphrodisiac at the 
present day, there can be no doubt 
that it has this effect. When rubbed 
into the skin it depresses sensory 
nerve-endings and is absorbed. After 
absorption it depresses all sympathetic 
nerve-cells. Both these effects would 
tend to diminish organic reflexes such 
as aphrodisia" (Dr. W. E. Dixon, 
Pharmacological Laboratory, Cam- 
bridge). Pausanias seems to imply 
that the hierophant was forbidden to 
marry (ii. 14. i). It may have been 
so in his age, the second century of 
our era ; but an inscription of the first 
century B.C. shews that at that time it 
was lawful for him to take a wife. See 
P. Foucart, Let Grands Mysteres 
d' Eleusis, pp. 26 sqq. (extract from the 
Mtmoires de PAcadtmic des Inscriptions 
et Belles- Lettres, vol. xxxvii. ). 


designed to cover the wide Eleusinian plain with a plenteous 
harvest by wedding the goddess of the corn to the sky-god, 
who fertilised the bare earth with genial showers. 
Marriage of But Zeus was not always the sky-god, nor did he always 
Zeus and marr y the corn-goddess. If in antiquity a traveller, quitting 
piataea. Eleusis and passing through miles of olive-groves and corn- 
fields, had climbed the pine-clad mountains of Cithaeron and 
descended through the forest on their northern slope to 
Piataea, he might have chanced to find the people of that 
little Boeotian town celebrating a different marriage of 
the great god to a different goddess. The ceremony is 
described by a Greek antiquary whose note -book has 
fortunately preserved for us not a few rural customs of 
ancient Greece, of which the knowledge would otherwise 
have perished. 

Every few years the people of Piataea held a festival 
which they called the Little Daedala. On the day of the 
festival they went out into an ancient oak forest, the trees 
of which were of gigantic girth. There they set some boiled 
meat on the ground, and watched the birds that gathered 
round it. When a raven was observed to carry off a piece 
of the meat and perch on an oak, the people followed it and 
cut down the tree. With the wood of the tree they made 
an image, dressed it as a bride, and placed it on a bullock- 
cart with a bridesmaid beside it. It seems then to have 
been drawn to the banks of the river Asopus and back to 
the town, attended by a piping and dancing crowd. After 
the festival the image was put away and kept till the cele- 
bration of the Great Daedala, which fell only once in sixty 
years, and was held by all the people of Boeotia. On this 
occasion all the images, fourteen in number, that had accumu- 
lated from the celebrations of the Little Daedala were dragged 
on wains in procession to the river Asopus, and then to the 
top of Mount Cithaeron. There an altar had been constructed 
of square blocks of wood fitted together, with brushwood 
heaped over it. Animals were sacrificed by being burned 
on the altar, and the altar itself, together with the images, 
was consumed by the flames. The blaze, we are told, rose 
to a prodigious height and was seen for many miles. To 
explain the origin of the festival a story ran that once 


upon a time Hera had quarrelled with Zeus and left him in 
high dudgeon. To lure her back Zeus gave out that he 
was about to marry the nymph Plataea, daughter of the 
river Asopus. He had a fine oak cut down, shaped and 
dressed as a bride, and conveyed on a bullock-cart. Trans- 
ported with rage and jealousy, Hera flew to the cart, 
and tearing off the veil of the pretended bride, discovered 
the deceit that had been practised on her. Her rage now 
turned to laughter, and she became reconciled to her husband 
Zeus. 1 

The resemblance of this festival to some of the European Resem- 
spring and midsummer festivals is tolerably close. We have ^^ 
seen that in Russia at Whitsuntide the villagers go out into Piataean 
the wood, fell a birch-tree, dress it in woman's clothes, and toThe^ 
bring it back to the village with dance and song. On the spring 
third day it is thrown into the water. 2 Again, we have seen summer 
that in Bohemia on Midsummer Eve the village lads fell a festivals of 

i i j 1*1 modern 

tall fir or pine-tree in the wood and set it up on a height, Europe. 
where it is adorned with garlands, nosegays, and ribbons, 
and afterwards burnt. 8 The reason for burning the tree 
will appear afterwards ; the custom itself is not uncommon 
in modern Europe. In some parts of the Pyrenees a tall 
and slender tree is cut down on May Day and kept till 
Midsummer Eve. It is then rolled to the top of a hill, set 
up, and burned. 4 In Angouleme on St. Peter's Day, the 
twenty-ninth of June, a tall leafy poplar is set up in the 
market-place and burned. 5 Near Launceston in Cornwall 
there is a large tumulus known as Whiteborough, with a 
fosse round it. On this tumulus " there was formerly a 
great bonfire on Midsummer Eve ; a large summer pole was 
fixed in the centre, round which the fuel was heaped up. It 
had a large bush on the top of it. Round this were parties 
of wrestlers contending for small prizes." The rustics believed 
that giants were buried in such mounds, and nothing would 
tempt them to disturb their bones. 6 In Dublin on May- 

1 Pausanias, ix. 3 ; Plutarch, quoted 6 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 
by Eusebius, Praepar, Evang. in. I sq. 177 sq. 

2 Above, p. 64. 

3 Above, p.- 66. e J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, i. 

4 W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 318 sq. ; W. Mannhardt, Baumkulttts, 
177. P- 178. 


morning boys used to go out and cut a May-bush, bring it 
back to town, and then burn it. 1 

Ail such Probably the Boeotian festival belonged to the same class 

ceremonies Q f r j tes j^ represented the marriage of the powers of vege- 
originaiiy tation the union of the oak-god with the oak -goddess 2 - 

in spring or midsummer, just as the same event is repre- 
intended sentcd in modern Europe by a King and Queen or a Lord 
abouTthe anc * Lady of the May. In the Boeotian, as in the Russian, 
effects ceremony the tree dressed as a woman stands for the English 
dramatic- 3 ' May-pole and May-queen in one. All such ceremonies, it 
ally re- must be remembered, are not, or at least were not originally, 
mere spectacular or dramatic exhibitions. They are magical 
rites designed to produce the effect which they dramati- 
cally set forth. If the revival of vegetation in spring is 
mimicked by the awakening of a sleeper, the mimicry is 
intended actually to quicken the growth of leaves and 
blossoms ; if the marriage of the powers of vegetation is 
simulated by a King and Queen of May, the idea is that the 
powers thus personated will really be rendered more pro- 
ductive by the ceremony. In short, all these spring and 
midsummer festivals fall under the head of homoeopathic or 
imitative magic. The thing which people wish to bring 
about they represent dramatically, and the very representation 
is believed to effect, or at least to contribute to, the produc- 
tion of the desired result. In the case of the Daedala the 
story of Hera's quarrel with Zeus and her sullen retirement 
may perhaps without straining be interpreted as a mythical 
expression for a bad season and the failure of the crops. 
The same disastrous effects were attributed to the anger and 
seclusion of Demeter after the loss of her daughter Proser- 
pine. 3 Now the institution of a festival is often explained 
by a mythical story, which relates how upon a particular 
occasion those very calamities occurred which it is the real 

1 W. Hone, Every Day Book, ii. Pallas is represented with her olive-tree 
595 sf- 5 W. Mannhardt, Baumktiltus, and her owl ; so that the conjunction of 
p. 178- the oak with Hera cannot be accidental. 

2 With regard to Zeus as an oak-god See W. Helbig, Fuhrerdurch die offent- 
see below, pp. 358 sq. Hera appears lichen Sammlungen klassischen Alter- 
withan oak-tree and her sacred bird the turner in Rom* (Leipsic, 1899), i. 397, 
peacock perched on it in a group which No. 587. 

is preserved in the Palazzo degli Con- 

servatori at Rome. In the same group 3 Pausanias, viii. 42. 


object of the festival to avert ; so that if we know the myth 
told to account for the historical origin of the festival, we can 
often infer from it the real intention with which the festival 
was celebrated. If, therefore, the origin of the Daedala was 
explained by a story of a failure of crops and consequent 
famine, we may infer that the real object of the festival was 
to prevent the occurrence of such disasters ; and, if I am right 
in my interpretation of the festival, the object was supposed 
to be effected by dramatically representing the marriage of 
the divinities most concerned with the production of trees 
and plants. The marriage of Zeus and Hera was acted 
at annual festivals in various parts of Greece, 1 and it is 
at least a fair conjecture that the nature and intention 
of these ceremonies were such as I have assigned to the 
Plataean festival of the Daedala ; in other words, that Zeus 
and Hera at these festivals were the Greek equivalents of the 
Lord and Lady of the May. Homer's glowing picture of 
Zeus and Hera couched on fresh hyacinths and crocuses, 2 
like Milton's description of the dalliance of Zephyr with 
Aurora, " as he met her once a-Maying," was perhaps painted 
from the life. 

The sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera had, as was 
natural, its counterpart among the northern kinsfolk of the 
Greeks. In Sweden every year a life-size image of Frey, The god 
the god of fertility, both animal and vegetable, was drawn 

about the country in a waggon attended by a beautiful girl wife in 
who was called the god's wife. She acted also as his 

1 At Cnossus in Crete, Diodorus he infers that the custom of the sacred 

Siculus, v. 72 ; at Samos, Lactantius, marriage was once common to all the 

Instit. i. 17 (compare Augustine, Greek tribes. 
De civitate Dei, vi. 7) ; at Athens, 

Photius, Lexicon, s.v. lepbv ydfiov ; 2 Iliad, xiv. 347 sqq. Hera was 

Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. lepofj.v-f)- worshipped under the title of Flowery 

yttwes, p. 468. 52. A fragment of Phere- at Argos (Pausanias, ii. 22. i; compare 

cydes relating to the marriage of Zeus Etymol. Magn. s.v. "Avfffia, p. 108, 

and Hera came to light some years ago. line 48), and women called Flower- 

See Grenfell and Hunt, New Classical bearers served in her sanctuary (Pollux, 

and other Greek and Latin Papyri iv. 78). A great festival of gathering 

(Oxford, 1807), p. 23 ; H. Weil, in flowers was celebrated by Peloponne- 

Revu^des Etudes grecques, x. (1897) sian women in spring (Hesychius, s.v. 

pp. 0*9. The subject has been dis- tipoffA.vOeia, compare Photius, Lexicon, 

cussed by W. H. Roscher (Juno und s.v. 'HpodvOia). The first of May is still 

Hera, Leipsic, 1875, PP- 7 2 *??) a festival of flowers in Peloponnese. 

From the wide prevalence of the rite See Folk-lore, i. ( 1 890) pp. 518 sqq. 


The god priestess in his great temple at Upsala. Wherever the 
Frey and wafrC r On came with the image of the god and his blooming: 

his human ""fa^ ' => 

wife in young bride, the people crowded to meet them and offered 
Sweden. sacr jfi ces f or a fruitful year. Once on a time a Norwegian 
exile named Gunnar Helming gave himself out to be Frey 
in person, and rode about on the sacred waggon dressed up 
in the god's clothes. Everywhere the simple folk welcomed 
him as the deity, and observed with wonder and delight 
that a god walked about among men and ate and drank 
just like other people. And when the months went by, and 
the god's fair young wife was seen to be with child, their joy 
waxed greatly, for they thought, " Surely this is an omen of 
a fruitful season." It happened that the weather was then 
so mild, and the promise of a plenteous harvest so fair, that 
no man ever remembered such a year before. But one night 
the god departed in haste, with his wife and all the gold and 
silver and. fine raiment which he had got together ; and 
though the Swedes made after him, they could not catch 
him. He was over the hills and far away in Norway. 1 
Similar Similar ceremonies appear to have been observed by the 
n peasantry of Gaul in antiquity ; for Gregory of Tours, writ- 
ing in the sixth century of our era, says that at Autun the 
people used to carry about an image of a goddess in a 
waggon drawn by oxen. The intention of the ceremony 
was to ensure the safety of the crops and vines, and the 
rustics danced and sang in front of the image. 2 The old 
historian identifies the goddess with Cybele, the Great 
Mother goddess of Phrygia, and the identification would 
seem to be correct. For we learn from another source that 
men wrought up to a pitch of frenzy by the shrill music of 
flutes and the clash of cymbals, sacrificed their virility 

1 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie* on Tacitus I.e., and especially K. 

i. 176; P. Herrmann, Nordische Mullenhoff, Deutsche Altertumskunde, 

Mythologie (Leipsic, 1903), pp. 198 iv. (Berlin, 1900) pp. 468 sq. 
sqg., 217, 520, 529; E. H. Meyer, 

Mythologie der Gennanen (Strasburg, 2 Gregory of Tours, De gloria con- 

I 93) PP- 366 sq. The procession of fessorum, 77 (Migne's Patrologia 

Frey and his wife in the waggon is Latina, Ixxi. col. 884). Compare 

doubtless the same with the procession Sulpicius Severus, Vita S. Martini, 

of Nerthus in a waggon which Tacitus 12 : " Quia esset haec Gallorum 

describes (Germania, 40). Nerthus rusticis consuetude, sitmilacra dae- 

seems to be no other than Freya, the monum candido tecta velamine misera 

wife of Frey. See the commentators per agros sues circumfe>~re dementia" 


to the goddess, dashing the severed portions of themselves 
against her image. 1 Now this religious castration was a 
marked feature of the Phrygian worship of Cybele, but it is 
alien to Western modes of thought, although it still finds 
favour with a section of the barbarous, fanatical, semi- 
Oriental peasantry of Russia. 2 But whether of native or of 
Eastern origin the rites of the goddess of Autun closely 
conformed to those of the great Phrygian goddess and 
appear to have been, like them, a perverted form of the 
Sacred Marriage, which was designed to fertilise the earth, 
and in which eunuchs, strange as it may seem, personated 
the lovers of the goddess. 3 

Thus the custom of marrying gods either to images or to The 

human beings was widespread among the nations of anti- 

quity. The ideas on which such a custom is based are too gods to 
crude to allow us to doubt that the civilised Babylonians, [ i 
Egyptians, and Greeks inherited it from their barbarous or persons is 

found also 

savage forefathers. This presumption is strengthened when am0 ng 
we find rites of a similar kind in vogue among the lower u nci ^ li se d 
races. Thus, for example, we are told that once upon a custom of 
time the Wotyaks of the Malmyz district in Russia were ^ 
distressed by a series of bad harvests. They did not know 
what to do, but at last concluded that their powerful but 
mischievous god Keremet must be angry at being unmarried. 
So a deputation of elders visited the Wotyaks of Cura and 
came to an understanding with them on the subject. Then 
they returned home, laid in a large stock of brandy, and 
having made ready a gaily decked waggon and horses, they 
drove in procession with bells ringing, as they do when they 
are fetching home a bride, to the sacred grove at Cura. 
There they ate and drank merrily all night, and next morn- 
ing they cut a square piece of turf in the grove and took it 
home with them. After this, though it fared well with the 
people of Malmyz, it fared ill with the people of Cura ; for 
in Malmyz the bread was good, but in Cura it was bad. 

1 " Passio Sancti Symphoriani," See N. Tsakni, La Russie sectaire, pp. 
chs. 2 and 6 (Migne's Patrologia Graeca, 74 sqq. 

v. 1463, 1466). 

2 These crazy wretches castrate men 3 As to this feature in the ritual of 
and mutilate women. ' Hence they are Cybele, see Adonis, Attis t Osiris, 
known as the Skoptsy ("mutilated"). Second Edition, pp. 219 sqq. 



Hence the men of Cura who had consented to the marriage 
were blamed and roughly handled by their indignant fellow- 
villagers. " What they meant by this marriage ceremony," 
says the writer who reports it, " it is not easy to imagine. 
Perhaps, as Bechterew thinks, they meant to marry Keremet 
to the kindly and fruitful Mukyldin, the Earth-wife, in order 
that she might influence him for good." l This carrying of 
turf, like a bride, in a waggon from a sacred grove resembles 
the Plataean custom of carting an oak log as a bride from 
an ancient oak forest ; and we have seen ground for thinking 
that the Plataean ceremony, like its Wotyak counterpart, was 
intended as a charm to secure fertility. When wells are 
dug in Bengal, a wooden image of a god is made and 
married to the goddess of water. 2 

Custom Often the bride destined for the god is not a log cr a 

of the clod, but a living woman of flesh and blood. The Indians 


Indians, of a village in Peru have been known to marry a beautiful 

girl, about fourteen years of age, to a stone shaped like a 

human being, which they regarded as a god (huaca). All 

the villagers took part in the marriage ceremony, which 

lasted three days, and was attended with much revelry. 

The girl thereafter remained a virgin and sacrified to the 

idol for the people. They shewed her the utmost reverence 

Marriage and deemed her divine. 3 The Blackfoot Indians of North 

of a woman America used to worship the Sun as their chief god, and they 

to the Sun B * 

among the held a festival every year in his honour. Four days before 
tlie new moon of August the tribe halted on its march, and 
all hunting was suspended. Bodies of mounted men were 
on duty day and night to carry out the orders of the high 
priest of the Sun. He enjoined the people to fast and to 
take vapour baths during the four days before the new 
moon. Moreover, with the help of his council, he chose the 
Vestal who was to represent the Moon and to be married to 
the Sun at the festival. She might be either a virgin or a 
woman who had had but one husband. Any girl or woman 
found to have discharged the sacred duties without fulfilling 
the prescribed conditions was put to death. On the third 

1 Max Buch, Die Wotjaken (Stutt- 3 P. J. de Arriaga, Extirpation de 
gart, 1882), p. 137. la idolatria del Piru (Lima, 1621), 

2 E. A. Gait, in Census of India, p. 20. 

vol. vi. part i. p. 190. 


day of preparation, after the last purification had been 
observed, they built a round temple of the Sun. Posts were 
driven into the ground in a circle ; these were connected 
with cross-pieces, and the whole was covered with leaves. 
In the middle stood the sacred pole, supporting the roof. A 
bundle of many small branches of sacred wood, wrapped in 
a splendid buffalo robe, crowned the summit of the temple. 
The entrance was on the east, and within the sanctuary 
stood an altar on which rested the head of a buffalo. 
Beside the altar was the place reserved for the Vestal. 
Here, on a bed prepared for her, she slept " the sleep of war," 
as it was called. Her other duties consisted in maintaining 
a sacred fire of fragrant herbs, in presenting a lighted pipe 
to her husband the Sun, and in telling the high priest the 
dream she dreamed during " the sleep of war." On learning 
it the priest had it proclaimed to the whole nation to the 
beat of drum. 1 Every year about the middle of March, Marriage 
when the season for fishing with the drag-net began, the fishTngnets 
Algonquins and Hurons married their nets to two young among the 
girls, aged six or seven. At the wedding feast the net was an " 
placed between the two maidens, and was exhorted to take quins. 
courage and catch many fish. The reason for choosing the 
brides so young was to make sure that they were virgins. 
The origin of the custom is said to have been this. One 
year, when the fishing season came round, the Algonquins 
cast their nets as usual, but took nothing. Surprised at 
their want of success, they did not know what to make of it, 
till the soul or genius (pki) of the net appeared to them in 
the likeness of a tall well-built man, who said to them in a 
great passion, " I have lost my wife and I cannot find one 
who has known no other man but me ; that is why you do 
not succeed, and why you never will succeed till you give 
me satisfaction on this head." So the Algonquins held a 
council and resolved to appease the spirit of the net by 
marrying him to two such very young girls that he could 
have no ground of complaint on that score for the future. 
They did so, and the fishing turned out all that could be 
wished. The thing got wind among their neighbours the 
Hurons, and they adopted the custom. A share of the 

1 Father Lacombe, in Missions Catholiqucs, ii. (1869) pp. 359 sg. 


catch was always given to the families of the two girls who 
acted as brides of the net for the year. 1 

Sacred The Oraons of Bengal worship the Earth as a goddess, 

onhe ag< * nt * annually celebrate her marriage with the Sun-god 
Sun-god Dharme at the time when the sal tree is in blossom. The 
goddess' ceremony is as follows. All bathe, then the men repair to 
among the the sacred grove (sarna), while the women assemble at the 
house of the village priest. After sacrificing some fowls to 
the Sun-god and the demon of the grove, the men eat and 
drink. " The priest is then carried back to the village on 
the shoulders of a strong man. Near the village the 
women meet the men and wash their feet. With beating 
of drums and singing, dancing, and jumping, all proceed to 
the priest's house, which has been decorated with leaves and 
flowers. Then the usual form of marriage is performed 
between the priest and his wife, symbolizing the supposed 
union between Sun and Earth. After the ceremony all eat 
and drink and make merry ; they dance and sing obscene 
songs, and finally indulge in the vilest orgies. The object 
is to move the mother earth to become fruitful." 2 Thus the 
Sacred Marriage of the Sun and Earth, personated by the 
priest and his wife, is celebrated as a charm to ensure the 
fertility of the ground ; and for the same purpose, on 
the principle of homoeopathic magic, the people indulge in 
a licentious orgy. Among the Sulka of New Britain, at 
the village of Kolvagat, a certain man has charge of two 
stone figures which are called respectively " Our grandfather " 
(ngur es) and " Our grandmother " (ngur pei). They are 
said to be kept in a house built specially for the purpose. 
Fruits of the field are offered to them and left beside them 
to rot. When their guardian puts the two figures with their 
faces turned towards each other, the plantations are believed 
to flourish ; but when he sets them back to back, there is 
dearth and the people suffer from eruptions on the skin. 3 

1 Relations des Jdsuites, s6j6, p. the Oraos," Journal of the Asiatic 
109, and 1639, p. 95 (Canadian re- Society of Bengal, Ixxii. part iii. (Cal- 
print) ; Charlevoix, Histoire de la Nou- cutta, 1904) p. 12. For another 
velle France, v. 225 ; Chateaubriand, account of the ceremonies held by the 
Voyage en Amerique (Paris, 1870), pp. Oraons in spring see above, pp. 76 sq. 
140-142. 3 P. Rascher, "Die Sulka," Archiv 

2 Rev. F. Hahn, "Some Notes fiir Anthropologie, xxix. (1904) p. 
on the Religion and Superstitions of 217. 


This turning of the two images face to face may be 
regarded as a simple form of Sacred Marriage be- 
tween the two divine powers represented by them, who 
are clearly supposed to control the fertility of the 

At the village of Bas Doda, in the Gurgaon district of Marriage 
North-Western India, a fair is held on the twenty - sixth f g^ 
of the month Chait and the two following days. We are India and 
told that formerly girls of the Dhinwar class used to be nca " 
married to the god at these festivals, and that they always 
died soon afterwards. Of late years the practice is said to 
have been discontinued. 1 In Behar during the month of 
Sawan (August) crowds of women, calling themselves Nagin 
or " wives of the snake," go about for two and a half days 
begging ; during this time they may neither sleep under a 
roof nor eat salt. Half the proceeds of their begging is given 
to Brahmans, and the other half spent in salt and sweet- 
meats, which are eaten by all the villagers. 2 Amongst the 
Ewe-speaking peoples of the Slave Coast in West Africa 
human wives of gods are very common. In Dahomey 
they swarm, and it has even been estimated that every 
fourth woman is devoted to the service of some deity. 
The chief business of these female votaries is prostitution. 
In every town there is at least one seminary where the 
handsomest girls, between ten and twelve years of age, 
are trained. They stay for three years, learning the 
chants and dances peculiar to the worship of the gods, 
and prostituting themselves to the priests and the inmates 
of the male seminaries. At the end of their noviciate 
they become public harlots. But no disgrace attaches to 
their profession, for it is believed that they are married to 
the god, and that their excesses are caused and directed by 
him. Strictly speaking, they should confine their favours 
to the male worshippers at the temple, but in practice they 
bestow them indiscriminately. Children born of such unions 
belong to the deity. As the wives of a god, these sacred 
women may not marry. But they are not bound to the 
service of the divinity for life. Some only bear his name and 

1 W. Crooke, Popular Religion atid minster, 1896), ii. 1 1 8. 
Folk-lore of Northern India (West- 2 W. Crooke, op. cit. ii. 138. 


sacrifice to him on their birthdays. 1 Amongst these poly- 
gamous West African gods the sacred python seems to be 
particularly associated with the fertility of the earth ; for he is 
invoked in excessively wet, dry, and barren seasons, and the 
time of year when young girls are sought out to be his 
brides is when the millet is beginning to sprout. 2 
Women It deserves to be remarked that the supernatural being 

married to w hom women are married is often a god or spirit of water. 

to water- 

gods. Thus Mukasa, the god of the Victoria Nyanza lake, who was 
propitiated by the Baganda every time they undertook a long 
voyage, had virgins provided for him to serve as his wives. 
Like the Vestals they were bound to chastity, but unlike 
the Vestals they seem to have been often unfaithful. The 
custom lasted until Mwanga was converted to Christianity. 3 
The Akikuyu of British East Africa worship the snake 
of a certain river, and at intervals of several years they 
marry the snake-god to women, but especially to young 
girls. For this purpose huts are built by order of the 
medicine-men, who there consummate the sacred marriage 
with the credulous female devotees. If the girls do not 
repair to the huts of their own accord in sufficient numbers, 
they are seized and dragged thither to the embraces of the 
deity. The offspring of these mystic unions appears to 
be fathered on God (Ngaf) ; certainly there are children 
among the Akikuyu who pass for children of God. 4 In 
Kengtung, one of the principal Shan states of Upper 
Burma, the spirit of the Nawng Tung lake is regarded as 
very powerful, and is propitiated with offerings in the eighth 
month (about July) of each year. A remarkable feature of 
the worship of this spirit consists in the dedication to him of 
four virgins in marriage. Custom requires that this should 
be done once in every three years. It was actually done 
by the late king or chief (Sawbwa) in 1893, but down to 
1901 the rite had not been performed by his successor. The 
following are the chief features of the ceremony. The 
virgins who are to wed the spirit of the lake must be of 
pure Hkon race. Orders are sent out for all the Hkon of 

1 A. B. Ellis, The Ewe -speaking 3 Sir Harry Johnston, The Uganda 
Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. 139-142. Protectorate (London, 1902), ii. 677. 

2 Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 4 From notes sent to me by Mr. 
Edition, pp. 58 sq. A. C. Hollis, 2ist May 1908. 


the valley to attend. From the unmarried women of suit- 
able age, ten are selected. These are as beautiful as may 
be, and must be without spot or blemish. Four maidens out 
of the ten are chosen by lot, and carefully dressed in new 
garments. A festival is held, usually at the house of the 
Chief Minister, where the girls sit on a raised platform. 
Four old women, thought to be possessed by spirits, enter 
and remain as long as the feast lasts. During this time 
anything they may want, such as food, betel, or cheroots, is 
handed to them by the four girls. Apparently the old 
women pass for representatives of the spirit, and hence they 
are waited on by the maidens destined to be his wives. 
Dotage, blindness, or any great infirmity of age seems to be 
accounted possession by a spirit for the purposes of this func- 
tion. When the feast is over, the maidens are formally 
presented to the spirit, along with the various sacrifices and 
offerings. They are next taken to the chiefs residence, where 
strings are tied round their wrists by the ministers and elders 
to guard them against ill-luck. Usually they sleep a night 
or two at the palace, after which they may return to their 
homes. There seems to be no objection to their marrying 
afterwards. If nothing happens to any of the four, it is be- 
lieved that the spirit of the lake loves them but little ; but 
if one of them dies soon after the ceremony, it shews that 
she has been accepted by him. The spirit is propitiated 
with the sacrifice of pigs, fowls, and sometimes a buffalo. 1 

In this last custom the death of the woman is regarded Egyptian 
as a sign that the god has taken her to himself. Some- frowning 
times, apparently, it has not been left to the discretion of a & irlasa 

...... i i , . i i , sacrifice to 

the divine bridegroom to take or leave his human bride ; t he Nile. 
she was made over to him once for all in death. When the 
Arabs conquered Egypt they learned that at the annual 
rise of the Nile the Egyptians were wont to deck a young 
virgin in gay apparel and throw her into the river as a 
sacrifice, in order to obtain a plentiful inundation. The 
Arab general abolished the barbarous custom. 2 It is 

1 J. G. Scott and J. P. Hardiman, toms of the Modern Egyptians (Paisley 
Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the and London, 1895), chap. xxvi. p. 
Shan States^ part ii. vol. i. (Rangoon, 500. The authority for the statement 
1901) p. 439. is the Arab historian Makrizi. 

2 E. W. Lane, Manners and Cus- 


said that under the Tang dynasty the Chinese used to marry 
a young girl to the Yellow River once a year by drowning 
her in the water. For this purpose the witches chose the 
fairest damsel they could find and themselves superintended 
the fatal marriage. At last the local mandarin, a man of 
sense and humanity, forbade the custom. But the witches 
disregarded his edicts and made their preparations for the 
usual murder. So when the day was come, the magistrate 
appeared on the scene with his soldiers and had all the 
witches bound and thrown into the river to drown, telling 
them that no doubt the god would be able to choose 
his bride for himself from among them. 1 The princes 
of Koepang, a state in the East Indian island of Timor, 
deemed themselves descended from crocodiles ; and on 
the coronation of a new prince a solemn sacrifice was 
made to the crocodiles in presence of the people. The 
offerings consisted of a pig with red bristles and a young 
girl prettily dressed, perfumed, and decked with flowers. 
She was taken down to the bank of the river and set on a 
sacred stone in a cave. Then one of the prince's guards 
summoned the crocodiles. Soon one of the beasts appeared 
and dragged the girl down into the water. The people 
thought that he married her, and that if he did not find her 
a maid he would bring her back. 2 On festal occasions in 
the same state a new-born girl was sometimes dedicated to 
a crocodile, and then, with certain ceremonies of consecra- 
tion, brought up to be married to a priest. 8 It is said that 
once, when the inhabitants of Cayeli in Buru another East 
Indian island were threatened with destruction by a swarm 
of crocodiles, they ascribed the misfortune to a passion 
which the prince of the crocodiles had conceived for a 
certain girl. Accordingly, they compelled the damsel's 
father to dress her in bridal array and deliver her over to 
the clutches of her crocodile lover. 4 

A usage of the same sort is reported to have prevailed 

1 The North China Herald, 4th May Timor, p. 21); A. Bastian, Indonesien, 
1906, p. 235. ii. (Berlin, 1885) p. 8. 

2 G. A. Wilken, " Het animisme o A .. 

.... .. , ' T ,. , . , . 3 A. Bastian, op. (it. p. II. 

bij de volken van den Indischen Archi- 

pel," De Indische Gtds, June 1884, p. 4 A. Bastian, InJonesien i. (Berlin, 

994 (referring to Veth, Het eiland 1884) p. 134. 


in the Maldive Islands before the conversion of the inhabi- Virgin 
tants to Islam. The famous Arab traveller Ibn Batutah 
has described the custom and the manner in which it came to a jinnee 
to an end. He was assured by several trustworthy natives, n f ^ se 
whose names he gives, that when the people of the islands Maldive 
were idolaters there appeared to them every month an evil 
spirit among the jinn, who came from across the sea in the 
likeness of a ship full of burning lamps. The wont of the 
inhabitants, as soon as they perceived him, was to take a 
young virgin, and, having adorned her, to lead her to a heathen 
temple that stood on the shore, with a window looking out 
to sea. There they left the damsel for the night, and when 
they came back in the morning they found her a maid no 
more, and dead. Every month they drew lots, and he upon 
whom the lot fell gave up his daughter to the jinnee of the 
sea. In time there came to them a Berber named Abu 
'Iberecat, who knew the Coran by heart. He lodged in the 
house of an old woman of the isle of Mahal. One day, 
visiting his hostess, he found that she had gathered her 
family about her, and that the women were weeping as if 
there were a funeral. On enquiring into the cause of their 
distress, he learned that the lot had fallen on the old woman, 
and that she had an only daughter, who must be slain by 
the evil jinnee. Abu 'Iberecat said to the old dame, " I will 
go this night instead of thy daughter." Now he was quite 
beardless. So when the night was come they took him, and 
after he had performed his ablutions, they put him in the 
temple of idols. He set himself to recite the Coran ; then 
the demon appeared at the window, but the man went on 
with his recitation. No sooner was the jinnee within hear- 
ing of the holy words than he dived into the sea. When 
morning broke, the old woman and her family and the people 
of the island came, according to their custom, to carry away 
the girl and burn her body. They found the stranger repeat- 
ing the Coran, and took him to their king, whose name was 
Chenourazah, and made him relate his adventure. The 
king was astonished at it. The Berber proposed to the 
king that he should embrace Islam. Chenourazah said to 
him, " Tarry with us till next month ; if thou shalt do what 
thou hast done, and shalt escape from the evil jinnee, I will 


The jinnee be converted." The stranger abode with the idolaters, and 
of the sea Q QC J disposed the king's heart to receive the true faith. So 

and his 

bride in the before the month was out he became a Mussalman, he and 
island^ ^is wives and his children and the people of his court. And 
when the next month began, the Berber was conducted to 
the temple of idols ; but the demon did not appear, and the 
Berber set himself to recite the Coran till break of day. 
Then the Sultan and his subjects broke the idols and 
demolished the temple. The people of the island embraced 
Islam and sent messengers to the other isles, and their 
inhabitants were converted likewise. But by reason of the 
demon many of the Maldive Islands were depopulated 
before their conversion to Islam. When Ibn Batutah him- 
self landed in the country he knew nothing of these things. 
One night, as he was going about his business, he heard of 
a sudden people saying in a loud voice, " There is no God 
but God," and " God is great." He saw children carrying 
copies of the Coran on their heads, and women beating on 
basins and vessels of copper. He was astonished at what 
they did, and he said, " What has happened ? " They 
answered, " Dost thou not behold the sea ? " He looked 
towards the sea, and beheld in the darkness, as it were, a 
great ship full of burning lamps and cressets. They said to 
him, " That is the demon. It is his wont to shew himself 
once a month ; but after we have done that which thou hast 
seen, he returns to his place and does us no manner of 
harm." l 

The story It occurred to me that this myth of the demon lover may 

on^the have been based on some physical phenomenon, electrical, 

phosphor- lunar, or otherwise, which is periodically seen at night in 

theTea! tne Maldive Islands. Accordingly I consulted Professor J. 

Stanley Gardiner, our foremost authority on the archipelago. 

His answer, which confirms my conjecture, runs thus : " A 

peculiar phosphorescence, like the glow of a lamp hidden by 

a roughened glass shade, is occasionally visible on lagoon 

shoals in the Maldives. I imagine it to have been due to 

some single animal with a greater phosphorescence than any 

at present known to us. A periodical appearance at some 

1 Voyages cTIbn Batoutah, texte par C. Defremery et B. R. Sanguinetti 
arabe, afcompagni d'une traduction, (Paris, 1853-1858), iv. 126-130. 


phase of the moon due to reproduction is not improbable 
and has parallels. The myth still exists in the Maldives, but 
in a rather different form." He adds that "a number of 
these animals might of course appear on some shoal near 
Male," the principal island of the group. To the eyes of 
the ignorant and superstitious such a mysterious glow, 
suddenly lighting up the sea in the dusk of the evening, 
might well appear a phantom ship, hung with burning lamps, 
bearing down on the devoted islands, and in the stillness of 
night the roar of the surf on the barrier reef might sound in 
their ears like the voice of the demon calling for his prey. 1 

3. Sacrifices to Water-spirits 

Ibn Batutah's narrative of the demon lover and his mortal stories of 
brides closely resembles a well-known type of folk-tale, of^^^ 3 
which versions have been found from Japan and Annam in meda type. 
the East to Senegambia, Scandinavia, and Scotland in the 
West. The story varies in details from people to people, 
but as commonly told it runs thus. A certain country is 
infested by a many-headed serpent, dragon, or other monster, 
which would destroy the whole people if a human victim, 
generally a virgin, were not delivered up to him periodically. 
Many victims have perished, and at last it has fallen to the 
lot of the king's own daughter to be sacrificed. She is 
exposed to the monster, but the hero of the tale, generally 
a young man of humble birth, interposes in her behalf, slays 
the monster, and receives the hand of the princess as his 
reward. In many of the tales the monster, who is sometimes 
described as a serpent, inhabits the water of a sea, a lake, or 
a fountain. In other versions he is a serpent or dragon who 
takes possession of the springs of water, and only allows the 
water to flow or the people to make use of it on condition of 
receiving a human victim. 2 

1 The Thanda Pulayans, on the west Britain fancy that the mysterious glow 

coast of India, think that the phos- comes from souls bathing in the water, 

phorescence on the surface of the sea See P. Rascher, " Die Sulka," Archiv 

indicates the presence of the spirits of fur Anthropologie, xxix. (1904) p. 216. 

their ancestors, who are fishing in the * For a list of these tales, with 

backwaters. See E. Thurston, Ethno- references to the authorities, see my 

graphic Notes 'in Southern India, p. note on Pausanias, ix. 26. 7. To the 

293. Similarly the Sulkas of New examples there referred to add I. V. 


Water- It would probably be a mistake to dismiss all these tales 

spirits con- inventions of the story-teller. Rather we may 

ceived as " J J 

serpents or suppose that they reflect a real custom of sacrificing girls or 
women t o be the wives of water-spirits, who are very often 
conceived as great serpents or dragons. Elsewhere I have 
cited many instances of this belief in serpent-shaped spirits 
of water ; l here it may be worth while to add a few 
more. Thus the Warramunga of Central Australia perform 
elaborate ceremonies to appease or coerce a gigantic, but 
purely mythical water-snake who is said to have destroyed 
a number of people. 2 Some of the natives of western 
Australia fear to approach large pools, supposing them to be 
inhabited by a great serpent, who would kill them if they 
dared to drink or draw water there by night. 3 The Indians 
of New Granada believed that when the mother of all man- 
kind, named Bachue, was grown old, she and her husband 
plunged into the Lake of Iguague, where they were 
changed into two enormous serpents, which still live in the 
lake and sometimes shew themselves. 4 The Oyampi 
Indians of French Guiana imagine that each waterfall 
has a guardian in the shape of a monstrous snake, who 
lies hidden under the eddy of the cascade, but has some- 
times been seen to lift up its huge head. To see it is fatal. 
Canoe and Indians are then dragged down to the bottom, 
where the monster swallows all the men, and sometimes the 
canoe also. Hence the Oyampis never name a waterfall till 
they have passed it, for fear that the snake at the bottom of 
the water might hear its name and attack the rash intruders. 5 
The Huichol Indians of Mexico adore water. Springs 
are sacred, and the gods in them are mothers or serpents, 
that rise with the clouds and descend as fructifying rain. 6 
The Tarahumares, another Indian tribe of Mexico, think 

Zingerle, Kinder- und Hausmdrchen 2 Spencer and Gillen, Northern 

aus Tirol, Nos. 8, 21, 35, pp. 35 sqq., Tri&es of Central Australia, pp. 226 

IOO sqq., 178 sqq. ; G. F. Abbott, sqq. 

Macedonian Folk-lore, pp. 270 sqq. 3 R. Salvado, Mtmoires historiques 

This type of story has been elaborately sur f Australie (Paris, 1854), p. 262. 
investigated by Mr. E. S. Hartland 4 H. Ternaux-Compans, Essai sur 

( The Legend of Perseus, London, 1 894- Tancien Cundinamarca, pp. 6 sq. 
1896), but he has not discussed the 6 H. Coudreau, Chez nos Indiens 

custom of the sacred marriage, on which (Paris, 1895), PP- 33 S 1- 
the story seems to be founded. . 8 C. Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico 

1 Note on Pausanias, ix. 10. 5. (London, 1903), ii. 57. 


that every river, pool, and spring has its serpent, who causes 
the water to come up out of the earth. All these water-serpents 
are easily offended ; hence the Tarahu mares place their 
houses some little way from the water, and will not sleep 
near it when they are on a journey. Whenever they con- 
struct weirs to catch fish, they take care to offer fish to the 
water-serpent of the river ; and when they are away from 
home and are making pinole, that is, toasted maize-meal, 
they drop the first of the pinole into the water as an 
offering to the serpents, who would otherwise try to seize 
them and chase them back to their own land. 1 In Basuto- 
land the rivers Ketane and Maletsunyane tumble, with a roar 
of waters and a cloud of iridescent spray, into vast chasms 
hundreds of feet deep. The Basutos fear to approach the 
foot of these huge falls, for they think that a spirit in the 
shape of a gigantic snake haunts the seething cauldron 
which receives the falling waters. 2 

The perils of the sea, of floods, of rapid rivers, of deep Sacrifices 
pools and lakes, naturally account for the belief that water- ^^0 
spirits are fickle and dangerous beings, who need to be water- 
appeased by sacrifices. Sometimes these sacrifices consist of Sf 
animals, such as horses and bulls, 3 but often the victims are 
human beings. Thus at the mouth of the Bonny River 
there is a dangerous bar on which vessels trading to the 
river have been lost. This is bad for business, and accord- 
ingly the negroes used to sacrifice a young man annually to 
the spirit of the bar. The handsomest youth was chosen 
for the purpose, and for many months before the ceremony 
he lodged with the king. The people regarded him as 
sacred or ju-ju, and whatever he touched, even when he 
passed casually through the streets, shared his sanctity and 

1 C. Lumholtz, op. cit. i. 402 sq. genootschap, xiii. (1869) p. 72 ; A. 

D'Orbieny, Voyage dans fAm^rique 

* T. I Faiidough, "Notes on the Me ridionale, ii. 93, 160 (see above, 

Basutos Journal of the African ]6 p Blumentritt, "Uber die 

Society, No. 14, January 1905, p. 201. - ngebo y rcnen der Insel Palawan und 

3 To the examples given in my note der Inselgruppe der Talamianen," 
on Pausanias viii. 7. 2, add Ph. Pau- Globus, lix. (1891) p. 167; W. 
litschke, Ethnographic Nordost-Afrikas, Crooke, Popular Religion and Folk- 
die geistige Culttir der Dandkil, Galla lore of Northern India (Westminster, 
und Somdl (Berlin, 1896), pp. 46, 50 ; 1896), i. 46; Father Guilleme, in 
" De Dajaks op Borneo, " Mededcclingen Annalcs de la Propagation de la Foi, 
van wege hct Nederlandsche Zendeling- Ix. (1 888) p. 252. 

i 5 8 


of human 
beings to 

sacrifices belonged to him. Hence whenever he appeared in public 
^ inhabitants fled before him, lest he should touch their 
garments or anything they might be carrying. He was 
kept in ignorance of the fate in store for him, and no one 
might inform him of it under pain of death. On an 
appointed day he was taken out to the bar in a canoe and 
induced to jump into the water. Then the rowers plied 
their paddles and left him to drown. A similar ceremony 
used to be performed at the New Calabar River, but the 
victim was a culprit. He was thrown into the water to be 
devoured by the sharks, which are there the principal fetish 
or ju-ju. 1 The chiefs of Duke Town, on the same coast of 
Guinea, were wont to make an annual offering to the river. 
A young woman of a light colour, or an albino, was chosen 
as the victim. On a set day they decked her with finery, 
took her down to Parrot Island, and with much ceremony 
plunged her in the stream. The fishermen of Efiat, at the 
mouth of the river, are said still to observe the rite in order 
to ensure a good catch of fish. 2 The King of Dahomey 
used to send from time to time a man, dressed out with the 
insignia of office, to Whydah to be drowned at the mouth 
of the river. The intention of the sacrifice was to attract 
merchant ships. 3 When a fisherman has been carried off 
by a crocodile, some of the natives on the banks of Lake 
Tanganyika take this for a sign that the spirit deems him- 
self slighted, since he is obliged to come and find victims for 
himself instead of having them presented to him. Hence 
the sorcerers generally decide that a second victim is 
wanted ; so, having chosen one, they bind him hand 
and foot and fling him into the lake to feed the crocodiles. 4 
The crater of the volcano Tolucan in Mexico encloses two 
lakes of clear cold water, surrounded by gloomy forests of 
pine. Here, in the eighteenth month of the Toltec year, 
answering to February, children beautifully dressed and 
decked with flowers and gay feathers used to be drowned as 

1 W. F. W. Owen, Narrative of London, 1901), p. 43. 

Voyages to explore the Shores of Africa, 
Arabia, and Madagascar (London, 

1833). 354 *9- 

? H. Goldie, Calabar and its 
Mission, New Edition (Edinburgh and 

3 Annales de la Propagation de la 
Foi, xxxiii. (1861) p. 152. 

4 Father Guilleme, in Annales de 
la Propagation de la Foi, Ix. (i! 

P- 253- 


an offering to Tlaloc, the god of the waters, who had a fine 
temple on the spot. 1 The Chams of Annam have traditions 
of a time when living men were thrown into the sea every 
year in order to propitiate the deities who looked after the 
fishing, and when children of good family were drowned in 
the water-channels in order that the rice-fields might be duly 
irrigated. 2 

This last instance brings out a more kindly aspect of the Water- 
water-spirits. If these beings are dreaded by the fisherman ^J^ ^ 
and the mariner who tempt the angry sea, and by the beneficent 
huntsman who has to swim or ford the rushing rivers, they dispense " 
are viewed in a different light by the shepherd and the fertility, 
husbandman in hot and arid lands, where the pasture for the 
cattle and the produce of the fields alike depend on the 
supply of water, and where prolonged drought means 
starvation and death for man and beast. To men in such 
circumstances the spirits of the waters are beneficent beings, 
the dispensers of life and fertility, whether their blessings 
descend as rain from heaven or well up as springs of 
bubbling water in the parched desert. In the Semitic East, 
for example, where the rainfall is precarious or confined to 
certain seasons, the face of the earth is bare and withered 
for most of the year, except where it is kept fresh by irriga- 
tion or by the percolation of underground water. Here, 
accordingly, the local gods or Baalim had their seats 
originally in spots of natural fertility, by fountains and the 
banks of rivers, in groves and tangled thickets and green glades 
of mountain hollows and deep watercourses. As lords of the 
springs and subterranean waters they were supposed to be 
the sources of all the gifts of the land, the corn, the wine and 
the oil, the wool and the flax, the vines and the fig-trees. 8 

Where water-spirits are thus conceived as the authors of Water- 
fertility in general, it is natural that they should be held to ^'"^ ^ n " 
extend the sphere of their operations to men and animals ; bestowing 
in other words, that the power of bestowing offspring on 
barren women and cattle should be ascribed to them. This 
ascription comes out clearly in a custom observed by Syrian 

1 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire leurs religions," Revue de fhistoire 
des nations civilisees du Mexique et de des religions, xxiv. (1891) p. 213. 

f Amerique-Centrale, i. 327 sq. 8 W. Robertson Smith, Religion of 

2 E. Aymonier, " Les Tchames et the Semites? pp. 96-104. 



Water- women at the present day. Some of the channels of the 
spirits con- Qrontes are used for irrigation, but at a certain season of 

ceived as ' 

bestowing the year the streams are turned off and the dry bed of the 
3n S \vorm:n channels is cleared of mud and any other matter that might 
clog the flow of the water. The first night that the water is 
turned on again, it is said to have the power of procreation. 
Accordingly barren women take their places in the channel, 
waiting for the embrace of the water-spirit in the rush of the 
stream. 1 Again, a pool of water in a cave at Juneh enjoys 
the same reputation. The people think a childless couple 
who bathe in the water will have offspring. 2 In India many 
wells are supposed to cure sterility, which is universally 
attributed to the agency of evil spirits. The water of seven 
wells is collected on the night of the Diwali or feast of 
lamps, and barren women bathe in it in order to remove 
their reproach. There is a well in Orissa where the priests 
throw betel-nuts into the mud. Childless women scramble for 
the nuts, and she who finds them will be a happy mother 
before long. For the same reason, after childbirth an Indian 
mother is taken to worship the village well. She walks 
round it in the course of the sun and smears the plat- 
form with red lead, which may be a substitute for blood. A 
Khandh priest will take a childless woman to the meeting 
of two streams, where he makes an offering to the god of 
births and sprinkles the woman with water in order to rid her of 
the influence of the spirit who hinders conception. 3 In the 
Punjaub a barren woman who desires to become a mother 
will sometimes be let down into a well on a Sunday or 
Tuesday night during the Diwali festival. After stripping 
herself of her clothes and bathing in the water, she is drawn 
up again and performs the chaukpurna ceremony with 
incantations taught by a wizard. When this ceremony 
has been performed, the well is supposed to run dry ; its 
quickening and fertilising virtue has been abstracted by the 
woman. 4 The Indian sect of the Vallabhacharyas or Maha- 
rajas believe that bathing in a sacred well is a remedy for 

1 S. I. Curtiss, Primitive Semitic 
Religion To-day (Chicago, 1902), p. 

2 S. I. Curtiss, op, at. p. 119. 

1 W. Crooke, Popular Religion and 

Folk-lore of Northern India (West- 
minster, 1896), ii. 50^., 225 sq. 

4 Census of India, 1901, vol. xvii., 
Punjab, p. 164. 


barrenness in women. 1 In antiquity the waters of Sinue^sa Water- 
in Campania were thought to bless childless wives with ^^ 
offspring. 2 To this day Syrian women resort to hot springs bestowing 
in order to obtain children from the saint or jinnee of the 
waters. 3 In Scotland the same fertilising virtue used to be, 
and probably still is, ascribed to certain springs. Wives who 
wished to become mothers formerly resorted to the well of 
St. Fillan at Comrie, and to the wells of St. Mary at White- 
kirk and in the Isle of May. 4 In the Aran Islands, off the 
coast of Galway, women desirous of children pray at St. 
Eany's Well, by the Angels' Walk, and the men pray at the 
rag well by the church of the Four Comely Ones at Onaght. 5 
Child's Well in Oxford was supposed to have the virtue of 
making barren women to bring forth. 6 Near Bingfield in 
Northumberland there is a copious sulphur spring known as 
the Borewell. On the Sunday following the fourth day of 
July, that is about Midsummer Day, according to the old 
style, great crowds of people used to assemble at the well 
from all the surrounding hamlets and villages. The scene 
was like a fair, stalls for the sale of refreshments being 
brought and set up for the occasion. The neighbouring 
slopes were terraced, and seats formed for the convenience 
of pilgrims and visitors. Barren women prayed at the 
well that they might become mothers. If their faith was 
strong enough, their prayers were heard within the year. 7 

In Greek mythology similar ideas of the procreative Love of 
power of water meet us in the stories of the loves of rivers ^l 
for women and in the legends which traced the descent of in Greek 
heroes and heroines from river-gods. 8 In Sophocles's play" 1 
of The Trachinian Women Dejanira tells how she was 

1 W. Crooke, Tribes and Castes of 1893), p. 112. 

the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, 6 A. C. Haddon and C. R. Browne, 

iv. 425. As to the sect of the Maha- " The Ethnography of the Aran 

rajas, see above, vol. i. pp. 406 sq. Islands," Proceedings of the Royal 

2 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxi. 8. Irish Academy, ii. (1893) p. 819. 

3 S. I. Curtiss, Primitive Semitic 6 R. C. Hope, The Legendary Lore 
Religion To-day, pp. n6sy.; Mrs. H. of the Holy Wells of England (London, 
H. Spoer, "The Powers of Evil in 1893), p. 122. 

Jerusalem," Folk-lore, xviii. (1907) p. 7 R. C. Hope, op. cit. pp. 107 sq. 

55 ; A. Jaussen, Cottlumes des Arabes 8 See, for example, Pausanias, ii. 15. 

aupays de Moab (Paris, 1908), p. 360. 5, v. 7. 2 sq., vi. 22. 9, vii. 23. I sq., 

* J. M. Mackinlay, Folk-lore of viii. 43. i, ix. I. I sq., ix. 34. 6 

Scottish Lochs and Springs (Glasgow, and 9. 



wooed by the river Achelous, who came to her father and 
river-spmts c ] a i mec j h er hand, appearing in the likeness now of a bull 

for women ** ' 

in Greek now of a serpent, and now of a being with the body of a 
mythology. man anc j t ke front of an ox, while streams of water flowed 
from his shaggy beard. She relates, too, how .glad she was 
when Hercules presented himself and vanquished the river- 
god in single combat and took her to wife. 1 The legend 
perhaps preserves a reminiscence of that custom of providing 
a water-god with a human wife which has been practised 
elsewhere. The motive of such a custom may have varied 
with the particular conception which happened to prevail of 
the character of the water-god. Where he was supposed to 
be a cruel and destructive being, who drowned men and laid 
waste the country, a wife would be offered simply to keep 
him in good humour, and so prevent him from doing mischief. 
But where he was viewed as the procreative power on whom 
the fertility of the earth and the fecundity of men and 
animals depended, his marriage would be deemed necessary 
for the purpose of enabling him to discharge his beneficent 
functions. This belief in the amorous character of rivers 
comes out plainly in a custom which was observed at Troy 
down to classical times. Maidens about to marry were 
wont to bathe in the Scamander, saying as they did so, 
" Scamander, take my virginity." A similar custom appears 
to have been observed at the river Maeander, and perhaps 
in other parts of the Greek world. Occasionally, it would 
seem, young men took advantage of the practice to ravish 
the girls, and the offspring of such a union was fathered on 
the river-god. 2 The bath which a Greek bride and bride- 
groom regularly took before marriage appears to have been 
intended to bless their union with offspring through the 
fertilising influence of the water-nymphs. 3 

Thus it would appear that in many parts of the world a 

1 Sophocles, Jrachiniae, 6 sqq. of Aeschines are spurious, but there is 
The combat of Hercules with the no reason to doubt that the custom 
bull-shaped river-god in presence of here described was actually observed. 
Dejanira is the subject of a red-figured 

vase painting. See Miss J. E. Harrison, 3 See the evidence collected by Mr. 

Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Floyd G. Ballentine, " Some Phases of 

Religion* (Cambridge, 1908), Fig. 133, the Cult of the Nymphs," Harvard 

p. 434. Studies in Classical Philology, xv. 

2 Aeschines, Epist. x. The letters (1904) pp. 97 syq. 


custom has prevailed of sacrificing human beings to water- in Europe 
spirits, and that in not a few cases the ceremony has taken JJ^JJ, 
the form of making over a woman to the spirit to be his a woman 
wife, in order either to pacify his fury or to give play to his spirit*^ 
generative powers. Where the water-spirit was regarded as y ives on 'y 
female, young men might be presented to her for a similar ^ 
purpose, and this may be the reason why the victims pageants. 
sacrificed to water-spirits are sometimes males. Among 
civilised peoples these customs survive for the most part 
only in popular tales, of which the legend of Perseus and 
Andromeda, with its mediaeval counterpart of St. George 
and the Dragon, is the most familiar example. But 
occasionally they appear to have left traces of themselves in 
ceremonies and pageants. Thus at Furth in Bavaria a Mid- 
drama called the Slaying of the Dragon used to be acted sunimer 

J custom of 

every year about Midsummer, on the Sunday after Corpus slaying the 

Christi Day. Crowds of spectators flocked from the 
neighbourhood to witness it. The scene of the performance Bavaria. 
was the public square. On a platform stood or sat a 
princess wearing a golden crown on her head, and as many 
silver ornaments on her body as could be borrowed for the 
purpose. She was attended by a maid of honour. Opposite 
her was stationed the dragon, a dreadful monster of painted 
canvas stretched on a wooden skeleton and moved by two 
men inside. From time to time the creature would rush 
with gaping jaws into the dense crowd of spectators, who 
retreated hastily, tumbling over each other in their anxiety 
to escape. Then a knight in armour, attended by his men- 
at-arms, rode forth and asked the princess what she did " on 
this hard stone," and why she looked so sad. She told him 
that the dragon was coming to eat her up. On that the 
knight bade her be of good cheer, for that with his sword he 
would rid the country of the monster. With that he 
charged the dragon, thrusting his spear into its maw and 
taking care to stab a bladder of bullock's blood which was 
there concealed. The gush of blood which followed was an 
indispensable part of the show, and if the knight missed his 
stroke he was unmercifully jeered and taunted by the crowd. 
Having despatched the monster with sword and pistol, the 
knight then hastened to the princess and told her that he 


had slain the dragon who had so long oppressed the town. 
In return she tied a wreath round his arm, and announced 
that her noble father and mother would soon come to give 
them half the kingdom. The men-at-arms then escorted 
the knight and the princess to the tavern, there to end the 
day with dance and revelry. Bohemians and Bavarians 
came from many miles to witness this play of the Slaying 
of the Dragon, and when the monster's blood streamed forth 
they eagerly mopped it up, along with the blood-soaked 
earth, in white cloths, which they afterwards laid on the 
flax-fields, in order that the flax might thrive and grow tall. 
For the " dragon's blood " was thought to be a sure protec- 
tion against witchcraft. 1 This use of the blood suffices to 
prove that the Slaying of the Dragon at Furth was not a 
mere popular spectacle, but a magical rite designed to 
fertilise the fields. As such it probably descended from a 
very remote antiquity, and may well have been invested with 
a character of solemnity, if not of tragedy, long before it 
degenerated into a farce. 

St. Remain More famous was the dragon from which, according to 
delivers Wend, St. Remain delivered Rouen, and far more im- 


from a pressive was the ceremony with which, down to the French 
dragon. Revolution, the city commemorated its deliverance. The 
stately and beautiful edifices of the Middle Ages, which still 
adorn Rouen, formed a fitting background for a pageant 
which carried the mind back to the days when Henry II. 
of England and Richard Cceur-de-Lion, Dukes of Nor- 
mandy, still had their palace in this ancient capital of 
their ancestral domains. Legend ran that about the year 
520 A.D. a forest or marsh near the city was infested by a 

1 F. Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen and Palermo, 1900), pp. 323 sq. In 
Mythologie, i. 107-110, ii. 550. At this custom the fertility charm remains, 
Ragusa in Sicily an enormous effigy of though the marriage ceremony appears 
a dragon, with movable tail and eyes, to be absent. As to the mummers' 
is carried in procession on St. George's play of St George, see E. K. Cham- 
Day (April 23rd) ; and along with it bers, The Mediaeval Stage (Oxford, 
two huge sugar loaves, decorated with 1903), i. 205^^.; A. Beatty, "The 
flowers, figure in the procession. At St. George, or Mummers', Plays," 
the end of the festival these loaves are Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy 
broken into little bits, and every farmer of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, xv. part 
puts one of the pieces in his sowed ii. (October, 1906) pp. 273-324. A 
fields to ensure a good crop. See G. separate copy of the latter work was 
Pitre, Feste patronali in Sicilia (Turin kindly sent to me by the author. 


monstrous beast in the shape of a serpent or dragon, which 
every day wrought great harm to Rouen and its neighbour- 
hood, devouring man and beast, causing boats and mariners 
on the river Seine to perish, and inflicting other woes in- 
numerable on the commonwealth. At last the archbishop, 
St. Romain, resolved to beard the monster in his den. He 
could get none to accompany him but a prisoner condemned 
to death for murder. On their approach the dragon made 
as though he would swallow them up ; but the archbishop, 
relying on the divine help, made the sign of the cross, and 
at once the monster became so gentle that he suffered the 
saint to bind him with his stole and the murderer to lead 
him like a lamb to the slaughter. Thus they went in pro- 
cession to a public place in Rouen, where the dragon was 
burnt in the presence of the people and its ashes cast into 
the river. The murderer was pardoned for his services ; 
and the fame of the deed having gone abroad, St. Romain, 
or his successor St. Ouen, whose memory is enshrined in in memory 
a church of dreamlike beauty at Rouen, obtained from King deliverance 
Dagobert in perpetuity a privilege for the archbishop, dean, the arch- 
and canons of the cathedral, to wit, that every year on cha^ter^f 
Ascension Day, the anniversary of the miracle, they should Rouenwere 
pardon and release from prison a malefactor, whomsoever allowed to 


they chose, and whatever the crime of which he had been P^ 011 a 

., rr-i .... . i-, 1.11 malefactor 

guilty. This privilege, unique in France, was claimed by O n Ascen- 
the chapter of the cathedral as early as the beginning of the 
thirteenth century ; for in 1210, the governor of the castle of 
Rouen having boggled at giving up a prisoner, the chapter 
appealed to King Philip Augustus, who caused an enquiry 
to be made into the claim. At this enquiry nine witnesses 
swore that never in the reigns of Henry II. and Richard 
Cceur-de-Lion, Dukes of Normandy, had there been any 
difficulty raised on the point in question. Henceforward 
the chapter seems to have enjoyed the right without opposi- 
tion down to 1 790, when it exercised its privilege of mercy 
for the last time. Next year the face of things had changed ; 
there was neither archbishop nor chapter at Rouen. A 
register of the names of the prisoners who were pardoned, 
together with an account of their crimes, was kept and still 
exists. Only a few of the names in the thirteenth century 


are known, and there are many gaps in the first half of the 
fourteenth century ; but from that time onward the register 
is nearly complete. Most of the crimes appear to have 
been murder or homicide. 

Ceremony The proceedings, on the great day of pardon, varied 
Inuai somewhat in different ages. The following account is 
pardon and based in great part on a description written in the reign of 
TpSontr Henry III. and published at Rouen in 1587. Fifteen 
at Rouen, days before Ascension Day the canons of the cathedral 
summoned the king's officers to stop all proceedings against 
criminals detained in prison. Afterwards, on the Monday 
of Rogations, two canons examined the prisoners and took 
their confessions, going from prison to prison till Ascension 
Day. On that day, about seven o'clock in the morning, 
all the canons assembled in the chapter-house and invoked 
the grace of the Holy Spirit by the hymn Veni creator 
Spirttus, and other prayers. Also they made oath to reveal 
none of the depositions of the criminals, but to hold them 
sacred under the seal of confession. The depositions 
having been taken and the commissioners heard, the chapter, 
after due deliberation, named him or her among the 
prisoners who was to receive the benefit of the privilege. A 
card bearing the prisoner's name and sealed with the seal 
of the chapter was then sent to the members of parliament, 
who were sitting in full assembly, clad in their red robes, in 
the great hall of the palace to receive the nomination of the 
prisoner and to give it legal effect. The criminal was then 
released and pardoned. Immediately the minster bells 
began to ring, the doors of the cathedral were flung open, 
the organ pealed, hymns were sung, candles lit, and every 
solemnity observed in token of joy and gladness. Further, 
in presence of the conclave all the depositions of the other 
prisoners were burnt on the altar of the chapter-house. 
Then the archbishop and the whole of the clergy of the 
cathedral went in procession to the great square known as 
the Old Tower near the river, carrying the shrines and 
reliquaries of the minster, and accompanied by the joyous 
music of hautboys and clarions. Apparently the Old 
Tower occupies the site of the ancient castle of the Dukes 
of Normandy, and the custom of going thither in procession 


came down from a time when the prisoners were detained 
in the castle-dungeons. In the square there stood, and still 
stands, a platform of stone raised high above the ground 
and approached by flights of steps. Thither they brought 
the shrine (fierte) of St. Remain, and thither too was led 
the pardoned prisoner. He ascended the platform, and after 
confessing his sins and receiving absolution he thrice lifted 
the shrine of St. Romain, while the innumerable multitude 
assembled in the square cried aloud, each time the shrine 
was lifted, "Noel! Noel! Noel!" which was understood 
to mean "God be with us !" That done, the procession 
re-formed and returned to the cathedral. At the head 
walked a beadle clad in violet, who bore on a pole the 
wicker effigy of the winged dragon of Notre Dame, holding 
a large fish in its mouth. The whispers and cries excited 
by the appearance of the monster were drowned in the loud 
fanfares of cornets, clarions, and trumpets. Behind the 
musicians, who wore the liveries of the Master of the 
Brotherhood of Notre Dame with his arms emblazoned on 
an ensign of taffeta, came the carved silver-gilt shrine of 
Notre Dame. After it followed the clergy of the cathedral 
to the number of two hundred, clad in robes of violet or 
crimson silk, bearing banners, crosses, and shrines, and 
chanting the hymn De resurrectione Domini. Then came 
the archbishop, giving his blessing to the great multitude who 
thronged the streets. The prisoner himself walked behind, 
bareheaded, crowned with flowers, carrying one end of the 
litter which supported the shrine of St. Romain ; the 
fetters he had worn hung from the litter ; and with him 
paced, with lighted torches in their hands, the men or 
women who, for the last seven years, had in like manner 
received their pardon. Another beadle, in a violet livery, 
marched behind bearing aloft on a pole the wicker effigy 
of the dragon (Gargouille) destroyed by St. Romain ; in its 
mouth the dragon sometimes held a live animal, such as a 
young fox, a rabbit, or a sucking pig, and it was attended 
by the Brotherhood of the Gargouillards. The clergy of the 
thirty-two parishes of Rouen also took part in the pro- 
cession, which moved from the Old Tower to the cathedral 
amid the acclamations of the crowd, while from every 


church tower in the city the bells rang out a joyous peal, 
the great Georges cFAmboise thundering above them all. 
After mass had been performed in the cathedral, the prisoner 
was taken to the house of the Master of the Brotherhood of 
St. Romain, where he was magnificently feasted, lodged, 
and served, however humble his rank. Next morning he 
again presented himself to the chapter, where, kneeling in 
the presence of a great assembly, he was severely reproved 
for his sins and admonished to give thanks to God, to 
St. Romain, and to the canons for the pardon he had 
received in virtue of the privilege. 

History What was the origin and meaning of this remarkable 

fn^oTthe" privilege of the Fierte, as the shrine of St. Romain was 
privilege of called ? Its history has been carefully investigated by A. 
Floquet, Chief Registrar of the Royal Court of Rouen, with 

St. Romain the aid of all the documentary evidence, including the 
archives both at Rouen and Paris. He appears to have 
shewn conclusively that the association of St. Romain with 
the custom is comparatively late. We possess a life of the 
saint in Latin verse, dating from the eighth century, in which 
the miracles said to have been wrought by him are set 
forth in a strain of pompous eulogy. Yet neither in it nor 
in any of the other early lives of St. Romain and St. Ouen, 
nor in any of the older chronicles and martyrologies, is a 
single word said about the destruction of the dragon and 
the deliverance of the prisoner. It is not till 1394 that we 
meet for the first time with a mention of the miracle. 
Moreover, the deliverance of the prisoner can hardly have 
been instituted in honour of St. Romain, else it would have 
taken place on the twenty-third of October, the day on which 
the Church of Rouen celebrates the translation of the saint's 
bones to the cathedral. St. Romain died in 638, and his 
bones were transferred to the cathedral of Rouen at the end 
of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth century. 
Further, Floquet has adduced strong grounds for believing 
that the privilege claimed by the chapter of Rouen of 
annually pardoning a condemned criminal on Ascension 
Day was unknown in the early years of the twelfth century, 
and that it originated in the reign of Henry I. or Stephen, 
if not in that of Henry II. He supposes the ceremony to 


have been in its origin a scenic representation of the 
triumph of Christ over sin and death, the deliverance of the 
condemned prisoner symbolising the deliverance of man from 
the yoke of corruption, and bringing home to the people in 
a visible form the great mystery which the festival of the 
Ascension was instituted to commemorate. Such dramatic 
expositions of Christian doctrine, he points out, were common 
in the Middle Ages. 

Plausible as is this solution of the problem, it can Suggested 
scarcely be regarded as satisfactory. Had this been the n 
real origin of the privilege, we should expect to find the custom. 
Ascension of Christ either plainly enacted, or at least 
distinctly alluded to in the ceremony ; but this, so far as 
we can learn, was not so. Again, would it not savour of 
blasphemy to represent the sinless and glorified Redeemer 
by a ruffian stained with the blackest crimes ? Moreover, 
the part played by the dragon in the legend and in the 
spectacle seems too important to allow us to explain it 
away, with Floquet, as a mere symbol of the suppression 
of paganism by St. Remain. The tale of the conquest of 
the dragon is older than Christianity, and cannot be 
explained by it. At Rouen the connexion of St. Remain 
with the story seems certainly to be late, but that does not 
prove the story itself to be late also. Judging from the 
analogy of similar tales elsewhere, we may conjecture that 
in the Rouen version the criminal represents a victim 
annually sacrificed to a water-spirit or other fabulous being, 
while the Christian saint has displaced a pagan hero, who 
was said to have delivered the victim from death and put 
an end to the sacrifice by slaying the monster. Thus it 
seems possible that the custom of annually pardoning a 
condemned malefactor may have superseded an older 
practice of treating him as a public scapegoat, who died 
to save the rest of the people. In the sequel we shall see 
that such customs have been observed in many lands. It 
is not incredible that at Rouen a usage of this sort should 
have survived in a modified shape from pagan times down 
to the twelfth century, and that the Church should at last 
have intervened to save the wretch and turn a relic of 
heathendom to the glory of God and St. Romain. But 




this explanation of the famous privilege of the Fierte is 
put forward with a full sense of the difficulties attending it, 
and with no wish to dogmatise on so obscure a subject 1 

1 See F. N. Taillepied, Recueil des 
Antiqnitez et singularitez de la ville 
de Rouen (Rouen, 1587), pp. 93-105 ; 
A. Floquet, Histoire du privilege de 
Saint Romain (2 vols. 8vo, Rouen, 
1833). Briefer notices of the custom 
and legend will be found in A. 
Bosquet's La Normandie romanesqw 
et merveilleuse (Paris and Rouen, 
1845), pp. 405-409 ; and A. de 
Nore's Coufumes, mythes, et tradi- 
tions des provinces de France (Paris 
and Lyons, 1846), pp. 245-250. The 
gilt fierte, or portable shrine of St. 
Romain, is preserved in the Chapter 
Library of the Cathedral at Rouen, 
where I saw it in May 1902. It is 
in the form of a chapel, on the roof of 
which the saint stands erect, trampling 

on the winged dragon, while the con- 
demned prisoner kneels in front of 
him. This, however, is not the 
original shrine, which was so decayed 
that in 1776 the Chapter decided to 
replace it by another. See Floquet, 
op. cit. ii. 338-346. The custom of 
carrying the dragons in procession was 
stopped in 1753 because of its ten- 
dency to impair the solemnity of 
the ceremony (Floquet, op. cit. ii. 301). 
Even more famous than the dragon of 
Rouen was the dragon of Tarascon, an 
effigy of which used to be carried in 
procession on Whitsunday. See A. de 
Nore, op. cit. pp. 47 sqq. As to other 
French dragons see P. Sebillot, Le 
Folk-lore de France, i. (Paris, 1904) 
pp. 468-470. 


I . Numa and Egeria 

FROM the foregoing survey of custom and legend we Egeria at 
may infer that the sacred marriage of the powers both of^, e h a 
vegetation and of water has been celebrated by many of water 
peoples for the sake of promoting the fertility of the earth, f^ e ak 
on which the life of animals and men ultimately depends, perhaps a 
and that in such rites the part of the divine bridegroom or Diana! 
bride is often sustained by a man or woman. The evidence 
may, therefore, lend some countenance to the conjecture 
that in the sacred grove at Nemi, where the powers of 
vegetation and of water manifested themselves in the fair 
forms of shady woods, tumbling cascades, and glassy lake, 
a marriage like that of our King and Queen of May was 
annually celebrated between the mortal King of the Wood 
and the immortal Queen of the Wood, Diana. In this 
connexion an important figure in the grove was the 
water-nymph Egeria, who was worshipped by pregnant 
women because she, like Diana, could grant them an easy 
delivery. 1 From this it seems fairly safe to conclude that, 
like many other springs, the water of Egeria was credited 
with a power of facilitating conception as well as delivery. 
The votive offerings found on the spot, which clearly refer to 
the begetting of children, 2 may possibly have been dedicated 
to Egeria rather than to Diana, or perhaps we should rather 
say that the water-nymph Egeria is only another form of the 
great nature-goddess Diana herself, the mistress of sounding 

1 See above, vol. i. pp. \T sq. 2 See above, vol. i. p. 12. 


rivers as well as of umbrageous woods, 1 who had her home 

by the lake and her mirror in its calm waters, and whose 

Greek counterpart Artemis loved to haunt meres and 

springs. 2 The identification of Egeria with Diana is con- 

firmed by a statement of Plutarch that Egeria was one 

of the oak-nymphs 3 whom the Romans believed to preside 

over every green oak-grove ; 4 for while Diana was a goddess 

of the woodlands in general she appears to have been 

intimately associated with oaks in particular, especially at 

her sacred grove of Nemi. 5 Perhaps, then, Egeria was the 

fairy of a spring that flowed from the roots of a sacred 

oak. Such a spring is said to have gushed from the foot 

of the great oak at Dodona, and from its murmurous 

flow the priestess drew oracles. 6 Among the Greeks 

a draught of water from certain sacred springs or wells 

was supposed to confer prophetic powers. 7 This would 

explain the more than mortal wisdom with which, according 

to tradition, Egeria inspired her royal husband or lover 

The legend Numa. 8 When we remember how very often in early 

the . f society the king is held responsible for the fall of rain and 

Numa and the fruitfulness of the earth, it seems hardly rash to con- 

bjf^f 1 * 7 jecture that in the legend of the nuptials of Numa and 

miniscence Egeria we have a reminiscence of a sacred marriage which 

marriage. 6 the ^ Roman kings regularly contracted with a goddess 

which the o f vegetation and water for the purpose of enabling him 

Rome con- to discharge his divine or magical functions. In such a 

tracted r [^ e fa e p ar t o f the goddess might be played either by an 
goddess of image or a woman, and if by a woman, probably by the 
water and Q ueerh jf there is any truth in this conjecture, we may 

1 Catullus, xxxiv. 9 sqq. God," Folk-lore, xvi. (1905) pp. 283 

2 Wernicke, in Pauly - Wissowa, sq. ; and as to the root aeg see O. 
Real-Encyklopddie der classischen Alter- Schrader, Reallexikon der indoger- 
tumswissenschaft, ii. coll. 1343, 1351. manischen Atertumskunde (Strasburg, 

3 Plutarch, De fortuna Romano- 1901), p. 164. 

rum, 9. This statement would be 4 Festus, s.v. "Querquetulanae,"pp. 

strongly confirmed by etymology if 2 6o, 261, ed. C. O. Miiller. 

we could be sure that, as Mr. A. B. 6 gee below> 3 g o 

Cook has suggested, the name Egeria fi ,.. .. . ... f , 

is derived from a root aeg meaning ' Semus on Vir g l] ' Aen ' m ' 466. 

"oak." The name is spelt Aegeria 7 Tacitus, Annals, ii. 54; Pliny, 

by Valerius Maximus (i. 2. i). See Nat. Hist. ii. 232; Pausanias, ix. 

A. B. Cook, "Zeus, Jupiter, and the 2. ii, x. 24. 7 ; Lucian, Bis accusa- 

Oak," Classical Review, xviii. (1904) t' ts > * 
p. 366; id. "The European Sky- 8 See above, vol. i. p. 18. 


suppose that the King and Queen of Rome masqueraded 
as god and goddess at their marriage, exactly as the King 
and Queen of Egypt appear to have done. 1 The legend of 
Numa and Egeria points to a sacred grove rather than to a 
house as the scene of the nuptial union, which, like the 
marriage of the King and Queen of May, or of the vine-god 
and the Queen of Athens, may have been annually cele- 
brated as a charm to ensure the fertility not only of the 
earth but of man and beast. Now, according to some 
accounts, the scene of the marriage was no other than the 
sacred grove of Nemi, and on quite independent grounds we 
have been led to suppose that in that same grove the King 
of the Wood was wedded to Diana. The convergence of 
the two distinct lines of enquiry suggests that the legendary 
union of the Roman king with Egeria may have been a 
reflection or duplicate of the union of the King of the 
Wood with Egeria or her double Diana. This does not 
imply that the Roman kings ever served as Kings of the 
Wood in the Arician grove, but only that they may originally 
have been invested with a sacred character of the same 
general kind, and may have held office on similar terms. 
To be more explicit, it is possible that they reigned, not 
by right of birth, but in virtue of their supposed divinity 
as representatives or embodiments of a god, and that as 
such they mated with a goddess, and had to prove their 
fitness from time to time to discharge their divine functions 
by engaging in a severe bodily struggle, which may often 
have proved fatal to them, leaving the crown to their 
victorious adversary. Our knowledge of the Roman king- 
ship is far too scanty to allow us to affirm any one of these 
propositions with confidence ; but at least there are some 
scattered hints or indications of a similarity in all these 
respects between the priests of Nemi and the kings of 
Rome, or perhaps rather between their remote predecessors 
in the dark ages which preceded the dawn of legend. 2 

1 See above, pp. 130^^. inferred the humanity of the Arician 

2 The first, I believe, to point out priests rather than the divinity of the 
a parallelism in detail between Rome Roman kings. A fuller consideration 
and Aricia was Mr. A. B. Cook of all the evidence has since led him, 
(Classical Review, xvii. (1902) pp. rightly as I conceive, to reverse the 
376 sqq.) ; but from the similarity he inference. See his articles "Zeus, 




2. The King as Jupiter 

The In the first place, then, it would seem that the Roman 

Roman j^ng personated no less a deity than Jupiter himself. For 

seems to down to imperial times victorious generals celebrating a 

personated triumph, and magistrates presiding at the games in the 

Jupiter and Circus, wore the costume of Jupiter, which was borrowed for 

costume, the occasion from his great temple on the Capitol ; and it 

has been held with a high degree of probability both by 

ancients and moderns that in so doing they copied the 

traditionary attire and insignia of the Roman kings. 1 They 

rode a chariot drawn by four laurel-crowned horses through 

the city, where every one else went on foot ; 2 they wore 

Jupiter, and the Oak," The Classical 
Review, xviii. (1904) pp. 360-375 ; 
" The European Sky-God," Folk-lore, 
xvi. (1905) pp. 260-332. In the first 
and second editions of this work I had 
suggested that the regifugium at Rome 
may have been a relic of a rule of 
succession to- the throne like that which 
obtained at Nemi. The following dis- 
cussion of the religious position of the 
old Latin kings owes much to Mr. 
Cook's sagacity and learning, of which 
he freely imparted to me. 

1 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Anti- 
quit. Rom. iii. 61 sq., iv. 74, v. 35 ; 
B. G. Niebuhr, History of Rome, ii. 
36 ; Th. Mommsen, History of Rome, 
New Edition (London, 1894), i. 83 ; 
A. J. H. Greenidge, Roman Public 
Life (London, 1901), pp. 44^. But 
Mommsen, while he held that the 
costume of a Roman god and of the 
Roman king was the same, denied that 
the king personated the god. A truer 
historical insight is displayed by K. O. 
Miiller in his treatment of the subject 
(Die Etrusker, Stuttgart, 1877, i. 348 
sq. ). For a discussion of the evidence 
see Th. Mommsen, Romisches Staats- 
recht? i. 372 sq., ii. 5 sq. ; J. Mar- 
quardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung, ii. 
566 sq., iii. 2 507 sq. ; id., Privatteben 
der Rb'mer? 542 sq. ; K. O. Miiller, 
op. tit. i. 344-350, ii. 198-200; Aust, 
s.v. "Juppiter," in W. H. Roscher's 
Lexikon der griech. u. rbm. Mythologie, 
ii. coll. 633, 725-728. Among the 
chief passages of ancient authors on 

the subject are Dionysius Halicarna- 
sensis, ; Strabo, v. 2. 2, p. 220 ; 
Diodorus Siculus, v. 40 ; Appian, Pun. 
66 ; Zonaras, Annal. vii. 8 and 21 ; 
Livy, i. 8. I sq., v. 23. 45^., v. 41. 2, 
x. 7. 9 sq. ; Florus, i. 5. 6 ; Pliny, 
Nat. Hist. viii. 195, xv. 127, 130, 
137, xxxiii. II. in sq. ; Juvenal, x. 
36-43 ; Ovid, Ex Ponto, ii. 57 sq. ; 
Macrobius, Saturn, i. 6. 7-9 ; Servius 
on Virgil, Ed. vi. 22, x. 27 ; Ael. 
Lampridius, Alexander Severus, 40. 8 ; 
Jul. Capitolinus, Gordiani tres, 4. 4 ; 
Aulus Gellius, v. 6. 5-7 ; Tertullian, 
De corona militis, 13. The fullest de- 
scriptions of a Roman triumph are 
those of Appian and Zonaras (vii. 21). 
2 Camillus triumphed in a chariot 
drawn by white horses like the sacred 
white horses of Jupiter and the Sun. 
His Republican contemporaries were 
offended at what they regarded as a 
too close imitation of the gods (Livy, 
v. 23. 5 sq. ; Plutarch, Camillus, 7 ; 
Dio Cassius, Iii. 13.); but the Roman 
emperors followed his example, or 
perhaps revived the old custom of the 
kings. See Dio Cassius, xliii. 1 4 ; Sue- 
tonius, Nero, 25; Pliny, Panegyric, 22 ; 
Propertius, v. i. 32; Ovid, Ars amat. 
1.214. On the sanctity of white horses 
among various branches of the Aryan 
stock, seej. von Negelein, "Dievolks- 
thiimliche Bedeutung der weissen 
Farbe," Zeitschrift filr Ethnologic, 
xxxiii. (1901) pp. 62-66; W. Ridge- 
way, The Origin and Influence of 
the Thoroughbred Horse (Cambridge, 




purple robes embroidered or spangled with gold ; in the 
right hand they bore a branch of laurel and in the left hand 
an ivory sceptre topped with an eagle ; a wreath of laurel 
crowned their brows ; their face was reddened with ver- 
milion ; and over their head a slave held a heavy crown of 
massy gold fashioned in the likeness of oak leaves. 1 In 
this attire the assimilation of the man to the god comes out 
above all in the eagle-topped sceptre, the oaken, crown, and 
the reddened face. For the eagle was the bird of Jove, the 
oak was his sacred tree, and the face of his image standing 
in his four-horse chariot on the Capitol was in like manner 
regularly dyed red on festivals ; indeed, so important was it 
deemed to keep the divine features properly rouged that 
one of the first duties of the censors was to contract for 
having this done. 2 The Greeks sometimes painted red the 
face or the whole body of the wine-god Dionysus. 3 These 
customs may have been a substitute for an older practice of 
feeding a god by smearing the face, and especially the lips, 

ancient authors cited by him appears 
to affirm this, with the exception of 
Aulus Gellius (v. 6. 5-7, " Triumphales 
coronae sunt aurea:, qiiae imperatoribus 
ob honorem triumphi mittuntur. Id 
vulgo dicitur aurum coronarium. Haec 
antiquitus e lauru erant, post fieri ex 
auro coeptae"). Gellius may have con- 
fused the wreath of real laurel which 
the general wore on his head (Pliny, 
Nat. Hist, xxxiii. 127, 130, 137) with 
the golden crown which was held over 
him by a slave. The two crowns are 
clearly distinguished by Zonaras (I.e. ), 
though he does not describe the shape 
of the golden crown. Thus there is 
no good ground for rejecting the ex- 
press testimony of Tertullian that the 
golden crown was shaped like oak- 
leaves. This seems to have been 
Mommsen's own earlier opinion, since 
he mentions " a chaplet of oaken leaves 
in gold " as part of the insignia of the 
Roman kings (Ionian History, London, 
1894, i. 83). 

2 Pliny, Nat. Hist, xxxiii. Ill sq. ; 
Servius on Virgil, Eel. vi. 22, x. 27. 

3 Pausanias, ii. 2. 6, vii. 26. It, 
viii. 39. 6. For other examples of 
idols painted red see my note on 
Pausanias, ii. 2. 6. 

1905), pp. 105, 186, 187, 294, 295, 
419. As to the horses of the Sun, see 
above, vol. i. pp. 315 sq. 

1 Tertullian, De corona militis, 13, 
" Coronant ft publicos ordines laureis 
publicae causae magistratus vero in- 
super aureis. Praeferuntur etiam tilts 
Hetruscae. Hoc vocabulum est corona- 
rum, quas gemmis et foliis ex auro 
quercinis objovem insignes ad deducen- 
das thensas futn palmatis togis sumunt. " 
The thensae were the sacred cars in 
which the images of the gods were 
carried at the procession of the Circen- 
sian games (see XV. Smith's Dictionary 
of GneJk and Roman Antiquities? s.v. ). 
That the Etruscan crown described by 
Tertullian was the golden crown held 
by a slave over the head of a general 
on his triumph may be inferred from 
Pliny, Nat. Hist, xxxiii. n, "Vulgo- 
que sic triumphabant, et cum corona 
ex auro Etrusca sustineretur a tergo, 
anulus tamen in digito ferreus erat 
aeque triumphantis et servi fortasse 
coronam sustinentis." Compare Zona- 
ras, Annal. vii. 21 ; Juvenal, x. 38 
sqq. Mommsen says that the trium- 
phal golden crown was made in the 
shape of laurel leaves (Romisches 
Staatsreckt, i. 3 427) ; but none of the 


of his idol with the blood of a sacrificial victim. Many 

examples of such a practice might be adduced from the 

The oak religion of barbarous peoples. 1 As the triumphal procession 

nembfem a ^ w ays ended in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, it was 

of Jupiter peculiarly appropriate that the head of the victor should 

Roman * ^ ^ e g race d by a crown of oak leaves, for not only was every 

emperors, oak consecrated to Jupiter, 2 but the Capitoline temple of 

the god was said to have been built by Romulus beside a 

sacred oak, venerated by shepherds, to which the king 

attached the spoils won by him from the enemy's general in 

battle. 3 We are expressly told that the oak crown was 

sacred to Capitoline Jupiter ; 4 a passage of Ovid proves 

that it was regarded as the god's special emblem. Writing 

in exile on the shores of the Black Sea, the poet sends the 

book which he has just composed to Rome to be published 

there ; he personifies the volume and imagines it passing 

along the Sacred Way and up to the door of the emperor's 

stately palace on the Palatine hill. Above the portal hung 

shining arms and a crown of oak leaves. At the sight the 

poet starts : " Is this, quoth I, the house of Jove? For sure 

to my prophetic soul the oaken crown was reason good to 

think it so." 5 The senate had granted Augustus the right 

1 For instances see Fr. Kunstmann, moires, xviii. , Paris, 1 840) ; E.J.Payne, 

"Valentin Ferdinand's Beschreibung History of the New World called Amer- 

der Serra Leoa," Abhandlungen d. tea, i. 374 n. I ; F. B. Jevons, Intro- 

histor. Classe d. kon. Bayer. Akademie duction to the History of Religion 

d. Wissenschaften, ix. (Munich, 1866) p. (London, 1896), p. 158. Often we 

131 ; J. B. Labat, Relation historique are merely told that the blood is 

de VEthiopie Occidentale (Paris, 1732), smeared or sprinkled on the image, 

i. 250 ; Gmelin, Reise durch Sibiricn, See A. B. Ellis, Ewe-speaking Peoples 

ii. 476; " Ueber den religiosen Glau- of the Slave Coast, pp. 42, 79; id., 

ben und die Ceremonien der heidni- Yoruba- speaking Peoples of the Slave 

schen Samojeden im Kreise Mesen," Coast, pp. 102, 106; A. F. Mockler- 

Zeilschrift fur allgemeine Erdhtnde, Ferryman, British Nigeria (London, 

N.F. viii. (1860) p. 59; E. Rae, The 1902), p. 255; Fr. Kramer, "Der 

White Sea Peninsula, p. 150 ; J. B. Gotzendienst der Niasser," Tijdschrift 

Muller, " Les Mceurs et usages des voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volken- 

Ostiackes," Recueil de voiages au Nord, kunde, xxxiii. (1890) p. 496. For 

viii. (Amsterdam, 1727) pp. 414 st}. ; more examples see my note on Pau- 

Delamare, in Annales de la Propaga- sanias, ii. 2. 6. 

tion de la Foi, xii. (1840) p. 482; 2 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xii. 3; Phae- 

Sahagun, Histoire generale des chases drus, iii. 17. I sqq. ; Servius on Virgil, 

de la Nouvelle-Espagne (Paris, 1 880), Georg. iii. 332, and on Ed. i. 17. 

p. 185 ; J. de Velasco, Histoire du 3 Livy, i. 10. 4 sqq. 

royaume de Quito, p. 121 (Ternaux- * Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 92. 

Compans, Voyages, relations et mt- 5 Ovid, Tristia, iii. 31 sqq. 


to have the wreath of oak always suspended over his door ; l 
and elsewhere Ovid counts this among the more than mortal 
honours bestowed on the emperor. 2 On the Capitol at Cirta 
there stood a silver image of Jupiter wearing a silver crown 
of oak leaves and acorns. 3 Similarly at Dodona, the most 
famous sanctuary of the oak in Greece, the image of Zeus 
appears to have worn a chaplet of oak leaves ; for the god 
is constantly thus portrayed on coins of Epirus. 4 And just 
as Roman kings appear to have personated the oak-god 
Jupiter, so Greek kings appear to have personated the oak- 
god Zeus. The legendary Salmoneus of Elis is certainly 
reported to have done so ; 5 Periphas, an ancient king of 
Athens, is said to have been styled Zeus by his people, and 
to have been changed into an eagle by his jealous name- 
sake. 6 In Homer kings are often spoken of as nurtured by 
Zeus and divine. 7 Indeed we are told that in ancient days 
every Greek king was called Zeus. 8 

Thus we may fairly assume that on certain solemn To the 
occasions Roman generals and magistrates personated the 
supreme god, and that in so doing they revived the practice between 
of the early kings. To us moderns, for whom the breach an ^j th "' 
which divides the human and the divine has deepened into divine was 
an impassable gulf, such mimicry may appear impious, but wkteas >t 
it was otherwise with the ancients. To their thinking s 66 5 to 
gods and men were akin, for many families traced their 
descent from a divinity, and the deification of a man 

1 Dio Cassius, liii. 19. 6 Antoninus Liberalis, Transform. 6. 

2 Ovid, Fasti, i. 607 sqq., iv. 953 For this and the two following pas- 
sq. Tiberius refused a similar honour sages of Tzetzes I am indebted to Mr. 
(Suetonius, Tiberius, 26) ; but Domitian A. B. Cook. See further his articles, 
seems to have accepted it (Martial, "Zeus, Jupiter, and the Oak," Classical 
viii. 82. 7). Two statues of Claudius, Review, xvii. (1903) p. 409; "The 
one in the Vatican, the other in the European Sky -god," Folk-lore, xv. 
Lateran Museum, represent the em- (1904) pp. 299 sqq. 

peror as Jupiter wearing the oak crown 7 H. Ebeling, Lexicon Homericum, 

(W. Helbig, Fiihrer durch die offent- s.w. /SewtXetfs, SiorpeQfy, and 0eos. 

lichen Sammlungen klassischer Alter- 8 J. Tzetzes, Antehomerica, 1 02 sq. : 

turner i* Rom* \. Nos. 312, 673)- oi wplv ydp Te Afar Td^ras 

3 Corpus Inscriptionum Lahnarum, ScunXijas, 

viii. No. 6981. oCvtKd, (ui> oX6s Ai6j dff-rtjp 

* J. Overbeck, Griechische Kunst- <5irdf. 

w<,, .. /~t-/-v 

L R. Farnell, The Cults of the Greek '*> Ckihades, i. 474 : 

Slates, i. 107 sg. ' TOI)I jSeKTtXeij 8' d.vfKo.Qt Afas 
6 See above, vol. i. p. 310. ird^ros. 


1 78 


custom of 
ing dead 
by masked 

The kings 
of Alba 
seem also 
to have 
claimed to 

The Silvii 
and the 

probably seemed as little extraordinary to them as the 
canonisation of a saint seems to a modern Catholic. 
The Romans in particular were quite familiar with the 
spectacle of men masquerading as spirits ; for at the 
funerals of great houses all the illustrious dead of the 
family were personated by men specially chosen for their 
resemblance to the departed. These representatives wore 
masks fashioned and painted in the likeness of the originals : 
they were dressed in rich robes of office, resplendent with 
purple and gold, such as the dead nobles had worn in their 
lifetime : like them, they rode in chariots through the city 
preceded by the rods and axes, and attended by all the 
pomp and heraldry of high station ; and when at last the 
funeral procession, after threading its way through the 
crowded streets, defiled into the Forum, the maskers solemnly 
took their seats on ivory chairs placed for them on the 
platform of the Rostra, in the sight of the people, recalling 
no doubt to the old, by their silent presence, the memories 
of an illustrious past, and firing the young with the ambition 
of a glorious future. 1 

According to a tradition which we have no reason to 
reject, Rome was founded by settlers from Alba Longa, a 
city situated on the slope of the Alban hills, overlooking 
the lake and the Campagna. 2 Hence if the Roman kings 
claimed to be representatives or embodiments of Jupiter, the 
god of the sky, of the thunder, and of the oak, it is natural 
to suppose that the kings of Alba, from whom the founder 
of Rome traced his descent, may have set up the same 
claim before them. Now the Alban dynasty bore the name 
of Silvii or Wood, and it can hardly be without significance 
that in the vision of the historic glories of Rome revealed 
to Aeneas in the underworld, Virgil, an antiquary as well 
as a poet, should represent all the line of Silvii as crowned 
with oak. 3 A chaplet of oak leaves would thus seem to 

1 Polybius, vi. 53 sq, 

2 As to the situation, see Dionysius 
Halicarnasensis, Ant. Rom. \. 66 ; H. 
Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, ii. 582 

3 Virgil, Aen. vi. 772. I have to 

thank Mr. A. B. Cook for directing 
my attention to the Alban kings and 
their interesting legends. See his 
articles "Zeus, Jupiter, and the Oak," 
Classical Review, xviii. (1904) pp. 
363^.; "The European Sky-god," 
Folk-lore, xvi. (1905) pp. 285 sqq. 


have been part of the insignia of the old kings of Alba 
Longa as of their successors the kings of Rome ; in both 
cases it marked the monarch as the human representative of 
the oak-god. With regard to Silvius, the first king of the 
Alban dynasty, we are told that he got his name because 
he had been born or brought up in the forest, and that when 
he came to man's estate he contested the kingdom with his 
kinsman Julus, whose name, as some of the ancients them- Julus, the 
selves perceived, means the Little Jupiter. The people j u pf ter 
decided in favour of Silvius, but his rival Julus was consoled 
for the loss of the crown by being invested with religious 
authority and the office of chief pontiff, or perhaps rather of 
Flamen Dialis, the highest dignity after the kingship. From 
this Julus or Little Jupiter, the noble house of the Julii, 
and hence the first emperors of Rome, believed themselves 
to be sprung. 1 The legend of the dispute between Silvius 
and Julus may preserve a reminiscence of such a partition 
of spiritual and temporal powers in Alba Longa as after- 
wards took place in Rome, when the old regal office was 
divided between the Consuls and the King of the Sacred 
Rites. 2 Many more instances of such a schism will meet 
us later on. That the Julian house worshipped Vejovis, the 
Little Jupiter, according to the ancient rites of Alba Longa 
is proved by the inscription on an altar which they dedicated 
to him at their ancestral home of Bovillae, a colony of 
Alba Longa, situated at the foot of the Alban hills. 3 The 

1 Virgil, Aen. vi. 760 sqq., with lulum nomine, primo Jobum, dein 

the commentary of Servius; Livy, i. 3. posteajulum appellarant" ; also Steud- 

6 sqq. ; Ovid, Metam. xiv. 609 sqq. ; ing, in W. H. Roschers Lexikon d. 

id., Fasti, iv. 39 sqq. ', Festus, s.v. griech. u. ro'm. Mythologie, ii. 574- 

" Silvi," p. 340, ed. C. O. Miiller ; Compare W. M. Lindsay, The Latin 

Aurelius Victor, Origo gentis Romanae, Language (Oxford, 1894), p. 250. 

15-17; Dionysius Halicarnasensis, According to Diodorus, the priesthood 

Antiquit. Rom. i. 70 ; Diodorus bestowed on Julus was the pontificate ; 

Siculus, in Eusebius, Chronic, i. coll. but the name Julus or Little Jupiter 

285, 287, ed. A. Schoene ; Diodorus suggests that the office was rather that 

Siculus, vii. 3a and 3b, vol. ii. pp. of Flamen Dialis, who was a sort of 

jio-112, ed. L. Dindorf (Teubner living embodiment of Jupiter (see be- 

edition) ; Joannes Lydus, De magi- low, pp. 191 sq.), and whose name of 

stratibus, i. 21. As to the deriva- Dialis is derived from the same root as 

tion of the name Julus, see Aurelius Julus. On the Julii and their relation 

Victor, op. cit. 15, " Igiiur Latini to Vejovis see R. H. Klausen, Aeneas 

Ascanium ob insignem virtutem non und die Penaten, ii. 1059^^. 

solum Jove ortum crediderunt, sed 2 See above, p. I, and vol. i. p. 44. 

etiam per diminutionem, declinato pau- 3 Corf us Inscriptionum Latinarum, 


Caesars, the most illustrious family of the Julian house, 
took their name from their long hair (caesaries}, 1 which was 
probably in those early days, as it was among the Franks 
long afterwards, a symbol of royalty. 2 

TheAiban But in ceding the pontificate to their rivals, it would 
toTave 66 '" seem th at t ^e reigning dynasty of the Silvii or Woods 
been ex- by no means renounced their own claim to personate the 
Irakis l god of the oak and the thunder ; for the Roman annals 
thunder record that, one of them, Romulus, Remulus, or Amulius 
the good of Silvius by name, set up for being a god in his own person, the 
their equal or superior of Jupiter. To support his pretensions 
and overawe his subjects, he constructed machines whereby 
he mimicked the clap of thunder and the flash of lightning. 
Diodorus relates that in the season of fruitage, when thunder 
is loud and frequent, the king commanded his soldiers to 
drown the roar of heaven's artillery by clashing their swords 
against their shields. But he paid the penalty of his im- 
piety, for he perished, he and his house, struck by a thunder- 
bolt in the midst of a dreadful storm. Swollen by the rain, 
the Alban lake rose in flood and drowned his palace. But 
still, says an ancient historian, when the water is low and the 
surface unruffled by a breeze, you may see the ruins of the 
palace at the bottom of the clear lake. 3 Taken along with 

xiv. No. 2387 ; L. Preller, Ro'mische censian games were held at Bovillae 

Mythologie^ i. 263 sq. On Vejovis in honour of the Julian family, and 

as the Little Jupiter see Festus, s.v. Tiberius dedicated a chapel to them 

"Vesculi," p. 379, " Ve enim sylla- there. See Tacitus, Annals, ii. 41, 

bam rei parvae praeponebant, unde xv. 23. 

Veiovem parvum lovem et vegrandem l Festus, s.v. " Caesar," p. 57, ed. 

fabam minutam dicebant " ; also Ovid, C. O. Miiller. Other but less prob- 

Fasti, iii. 429-448. At Rome the able explanations of the name are 

sanctuary of Vejovis was on the saddle suggested by Aelius Spartianus (Helitts, 

between the two peaks of the Capito- ii. 3 sq.). 

line hill (Aulus Gellius, v. 12. I si/. ; 2 As to the Prankish kings see 

Ovid, Fasti, iii. 429 sq.); thus he Agathias, Hist. i. 3 ; J. Grimm, 

appropriately dwelt on the same hill Deutsche Rechtsalterthumer, pp. 239 

as the Great Jupiter, but lower down sqq. ; The Golden Bough, Second 

the slope. On coins of the Gargilian, Edition, i. 368 sq. 

Ogulnian and Vergilian houses Vejovis 3 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, An- 

is represented by a youthful beardless tiquit. Roman, i. 71 ; Diodorus Siculus, 

head, crowned with oak. See E. in Eusebius, Chronic, bk. i. coll. 287, 

Babelon, Monnaies de la Rtpublique 289, ed. A. Schoene ; Diodorus Siculus, 

Romaine, \. 532, ii. 266, 529. On vii. 3a and 4, ed. L. Dindorf; Zonaras, 

other Republican coins his head is Annal. vii. I ; Aurelius Victor, Origo 

crowned with laurel. See E. Babelon, gentis Romanae, 18 ; Ovid, Metam. 

op. cit. i. 77, 505-508, ii. 6, 8. Cir- xiv. 616-618; id., Fasti, iv. 50; Livy, 


the similar story of Salmoneus, king of Elis, 1 this legend points 
to a real custom observed by the early kings of Greece and 
Italy, who like their fellows in Africa down to modern times 
may have been expected to produce rain and thunder for 
the good of the crops. 2 The priestly king Numa passed 
for an adept in the art of drawing down lightning from the 
sky. 8 Mock thunder, we know, has been made by various 
peoples as a rain-charm in modern times ; 4 why should it 
not have been made by kings in antiquity ? 

In this connexion it deserves to be noted that, according The 
to the legend, Salmoneus, like his Alban counterpart, was 
killed by a thunderbolt ; and that one of the Roman kings, of Roman 
Tullus Hostilius, is reported to have met with the same end ^"a close" 
in an attempt to draw down Jupiter in the form of lightning connexion 
from the sky. 5 Aeneas himself, the legendary ancestor both theHdng 
of the Alban and the Roman kings, vanished from the world and the 

' - thunder- 

in a violent thunderstorm, and was afterwards worshipped as g0 d. 

Jupiter Indiges. A mound of earth, encircled with fine 
trees, on the bank of the little river Numicius was pointed 
out as his grave. 6 Romulus, too, the first king of Rome, 
disappeared in like manner. It was the seventh of July, 
and the king was reviewing his army at the Goat's Marsh, 
outside the walls of the city. Suddenly the sky lowered 
and a tempest burst, accompanied by peals of thunder. 
Soon the storm had swept by, leaving the brightness and 

i. 3. 9. The king is called Romulus Adversus nationes, v. 1-4. 
by Livy, Remulus by Ovid, Aremulus 4 See above, vol. i. pp. 248, 251. 
by Aurelius Victor, Amulius by Zon- 6 Apollodorus, 1.9. 7; Virgil, ^.vi. 
aras, Amulius or Arramulius by Dio- 592^.; Pliny, /fa/ 1 . Hist. ii. 140, xxviii. 
dorus, and Allodius by Dionysius. 14 (referring to the first book of L. 
A tale of a city submerged in the Alban Piso's Annals) ; Livy, i. 3 1. 8 ; Aurelius 
lake is still current in the neighbour- Victor, De viris illustribus, 4 ; Zon- 
hood. See the English translators' aras, Annal. vii. 6. According to 
note to Niebuhr's History of Rome? i. another account Tullus Hostilius was 
200. Similar stories are told in many murdered by his successor Ancus Mar- 
lands. See my note on Pausanias, tius during a violent storm (Dionysius 
vii. 24. 6. Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. iii. 

1 See above, vol. i. p. 310. 35 ; Zonaras, I.e.). 

2 See above, vol. i. pp. 342 sqq. 6 Livy, i. 2. 6 ; Ovid, Mctam. xiv. 

3 Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 140, xxviii. 598-608; Pliny, Nat. Hist. iii. 56; 
13 sq. Other writers speak only of Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. 
Numa's skill in expiating the prodigy Rom. i. 64 ; Servius on Virgil, Aen. 
or evil omen of thunderbolts. See i. 259 ; Aurelius Victor, Origo gentis 
Livy, i. 20. 7 ; Ovid, Fasti, iii. 285- Romanae, 14. Only the last writer 
348; Plutarch, Numa, 15; Arnobius, mentions the thunderstorm. 


Death and serenity of the summer day behind. But Romulus was 
never seen again. Those who had stood by him said they 

Romulus, saw him caught up to heaven in a whirlwind ; and not long 
afterwards a certain Proculus Julius, a patrician of Alban 
birth and descent, declared on oath that Romulus had 
appeared to him clad in bright armour, and announced that 
the Romans were to worship him as a god under the name 
of Quirinus, and to build him a temple on the spot. The 
temple was built and the place was henceforth known as 
the Quirinal hill. 1 In this legend it is significant that the 
annunciation of the king's divinity should be put in the 
mouth of a member of the Julian house, a native of Alba ; 
for we have seen reason to believe that at Alba the Julii 
had competed with the Silvii, from whom Romulus was 
descended, for the kingship, and with it for the honour of 
personating Jupiter. If, as seems to be philologically 
possible, the word Quirinus is derived from the same root 
as quercus, " an oak," the name of the deified Romulus would 
mean no more than " the oak-god," that is, Jupiter. 2 Thus 
the tradition would square perfectly with the other indica- 
tions of custom and legend which have led us to conclude 
that the kings both of Rome and of Alba claimed to embody 
in their own persons the god of the sky, of thunder, and of 
the oak. Certainly the stories which associated the deaths 
of so many of them with thunderstorms point to a close 

1 Livy, i. 1 6 ; Cicero, De legibus, i. of the temple and the question whether 

I. 3 ; id., De re publica, i. 16. 25, it was identical with the temple dedi- 

ii. 10. 2O ; Ovid, Fasti, ii. 475-512; cated by L. Papirius Cursor in 2938.0. 

Plutarch, Romulus, 27 sq. ; Dionysius (Livy, x. 46. 7 ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. 

Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. ii. vii. 213) see O. Richter, Topographic 

56 and 63 ; Zonaras, Annal. vii. 4 ; der Stadt Rom? pp. 286 sqq. ; G. 

Aurelius Victor, De viris illustribtts, 2 ; Wissowa, Gesammelte Abhandlungen 

Florus, Epitoma, i. I. 16-18. From (Munich, 1904), pp. 144 sqq. 
Cicero (De legibus, i. 1.3) we learn 2 See A. B. Cook, " Zeus, Jupiter, 

that the apparition of Romulus to Pro- and the Oak," Classical Review, xviii. 

culus Julius took place near the spot (1904) pp. 368^. ; id. "The European 

where the house of Atticus afterwards Sky-god," Folk-lore, xvi. (1905) p. 

stood, and from Cornelius Nepos 281. But a serious argument against 

(Atticus, 13. 2) we know that Atticus the proposed derivation of Quirinus 

had an agreeable villa and shady "from quercus is that, as I am informed 

garden on the Quirinal. As to the by my learned philological friend the 

temple of Quirinus see also Varro, Rev. Prof. J. H. Moulton, it is incon- 

De lingua Latina, v. 5 1 ; Festus, pp. sistent with the much more probable 

254, 255, ed. C. O. Muller ; Pliny, derivation of Perkunas from quercus. 

Nat. Hist. xv. 120. As to the site See below, p. 367, note 3, 


connexion with the god of thunder and lightning. A king 
who had been wont to fulminate in his lifetime might 
naturally be supposed at death to be carried up in a thunder- 
storm to heaven, there to discharge above the clouds the 
same duties which he had performed on earth. Such a 
tale would be all the more likely to attach itself to the 
twin Romulus, if the early Romans shared the widespread 
superstition that twins have power over the weather in 
general and over rain and wind in particular. 1 That tempests 
are caused by the spirits of the dead is a belief of the 
Araucanians of Chili. Not a storm bursts upon the Andes 
or the ocean which these Indians do not ascribe to a battle 
between the souls of their fellow-countrymen and the 
dead Spaniards. In the roaring of the wind they hear the 
trampling of the ghostly horses, in the peal of the thunder 
the roll of the drums, and in the flashes of lightning the fire 
of the artillery. 2 

Thus, if the kings of Alba and Rome imitated Jupiter Every 
as god of the oak by wearing a crown of oak leaves, they to 
seem also to have copied him in his character of a weather-god abl y h d 

its local 

by pretending to make thunder and lightning. And if they j up jt e r. 
did so, it is probable that, like Jupiter in heaven and many 
kings on earth, they also acted as public rain-makers, wring- 
ing showers from the dark sky by their enchantments when- 
ever the parched earth cried out for the refreshing moisture. 
At Rome the sluices of heaven were opened by means of a 
sacred stone, and the ceremony appears to have formed 
part of the ritual of Jupiter Elicius, the god who elicits from 
the clouds the flashing lightning and the dripping rain. 3 

1 See above, vol. i. pp. 262 sqq. p. 294). The Yuracares of eastern Peru 

2 J. I. Molina, Geographical, Natu- threaten the thunder-god with their 
ral, and Civil History of Chili (Lon- arrows and defy him when he thunders 
don, 1809), ii. 92 sq. The savage (A. D'Orbigny, DHomme americain, i. 
Conibos of the Ucayali river in eastern 365), just as the Thracians did of old 
Peru imagine that thunder is the voice (Herodotus, iv. 94). So the Kayans of 
of the dead (W. Smyth and F. Lowe, Borneo, on hearing a peal of thunder, 
Journey from Lima to Para, London, have been seen to grasp their swords 

1836, p. 240); and among them when for the purpose of keeping off the 

parents who have lost a child within demon who causes it (A. W. Nieuwen- 

three months hear thunder, they go huis, In Centraal Borneo, i. 140 sq. t 

and dance on the grave, howling turn 1 46 sq. ). 

about (De St. Cricq, " Voyage du PeVou * See above, vol. i. p. 310 ; and for 

au Bresil," Bulletin de la Societl de the connexion of the rite with Jupiter 

Gtographie, ivmes^rie, vi., Paris, 1853, Elicius see O. Gilbert, Geschichte und 

1 8 4 


Many local 
Jupiters in 

and Juno. 

The hills 
of Rome 
with oaks. 

And who so well fitted to perform the ceremony as the king, 
the living representative of the sky-god ? 

The conclusion which we have reached as to the kings 
of Rome and Alba probably holds good of all the kings of 
ancient Latium : each of them, we may suppose, represented 
or embodied the local Jupiter. For we can hardly doubt 
that of old every Latin town or settlement had its own 
Jupiter, as every town and almost every church in modern 
Italy has its own Madonna ; and like the Baal of the 
Semites the local Jupiter was commonly worshipped on 
high places. Wooded heights, round which the rain-clouds 
gather, were indeed the natural sanctuaries for a god of the 
sky, the rain, and the oak. At Rome he occupied one 
summit of the Capitoline hill, while the other summit was 
assigned to his wife Juno, whose temple, with the long flight 
of stairs leading up to it, has for ages been appropriately 
replaced by the church of St. Mary " in the altar of the sky " 
(in Araceli}} That both heights were originally wooded 
seems certain, for down to imperial times the saddle which 
joins them was known as the place " between the two 
groves." 2 'Virgil tells us that the hilltop where gilded 
temples glittered in his day had been covered of old by 
shaggy thickets, the haunt of woodland elves and savage 
men, " born of the tree-trunks and the heart of oak." 3 These 
thickets were probably composed of oaks, for the oak crown 
was sacred to Capitoline Juno as well as to Jupiter ; 4 it was to 
a sacred oak on the Capitol that Romulus fastened the spoils, 5 
and there is evidence that in early times oak-woods clothed 
other of the hills on which Rome was afterwards built. Thus 

Topographie der Stadt Rom im Alter- 
tum, ii. 154 sq. ; Aust, in W. H. 
Roscher's Lexikon der griech. und rom. 
Mythologie, ii. 657 sq. As to the con- 
nexion of Jupiter with the rain-making 
ceremony (aquaelicium), the combined 
evidence of Petronius (Sat. 44) and 
Tertullian (Apologeticus, 40) seems to 
me conclusive. 

1 Ovid, Fasti, i. 637 sq., vi. 183 
sqq. ; Livy, vii. 28. 4 sq. ; Cicero, De 
divinatione, i. 45. 101 ; Solinus, i. 21. 
Although the temple was not dedicated 
until 344 B.C., the worship of the 

goddess of the hill appears to have been 
very ancient. See H. Jordan, Topo- 
graphie der Stadt Rom im Altertum, 
i. 2, pp. 109 sq. ; W. H. Roscher, 
Lexikon d. griech. u. rom. Mythologie, 
ii. coll. 592 sq. 

2 Livy, i. 8. 5 ; Ovid, Fasti, iii. 430 ; 
Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. 
Rom. ii. 15. 

3 Virgil, Aen. viii. 314-318, 347- 

4 Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 92. 
6 Livy, i. 10. 5. 


the Caelian hill went originally by the name of the Mountain Oak woods 
of the Oak Grove on account of the thickets of oak by which J *^, 
it was overgrown, 1 and Jupiter was here worshipped in his hills in 
character of the oak-god; 2 one of the old gates of Rome.appar- anuquity - 
ently between the Caelian and the Esquiline hills, was called 
the Gate of the Oak Grove for a similar reason ; 3 and within 
the walls hard by was a Chapel of the Oak Grove dedicated 
to the worship of the oak-nymphs. 4 These nymphs appear 
on coins of the Accoleian family as three women supporting 
on their shoulders a pole from which rise leafy branches. 6 
The Esquiline hill seems also to have derived its name from 
its oaks. After mentioning the Chapel of the Oak and other 
hallowed groves which still dotted the hill in his time, the 
antiquary Varro tells us that their bounds were now much 
curtailed, adding with a sigh that it was no wonder the sacred 
old trees should give way to the modern worship of Mammon. 6 
Apparently the Roman nobles of those days sold the ancient 
woods, as their descendants sell their beautiful gardens, for 
building-land. To this list of oak-clad hills on the left bank 
of the Tiber must be added the Quirinal, if Quirinus, who 
had a very ancient shrine on the hill, was the oak-god. 7 
Under the Aventine was a grove of evergreen oaks, 8 which 
appears to have been no other than the grove of Egeria 
outside the Porta Capena. 9 The old grove of Vesta, which 
once skirted the foot of the Palatine hill on the side of the 
Forum, 10 must surely have been a grove of oaks ; for not only 

1 Mons Querquetulanus ; see Tacitus, has for reading aesculis consitae 
Annals, iv. 65. ("planted with oaks") for excultae in 

2 A monument found at Rome re- this passage (Topographie der Stadt 
presents Jupiter beside an oak, and Rom? p. 302, n. 4). Modern topo- 
underneath is the dedication : Jovi graphers prefer to derive the name 
Caelio. See H. Dessau, Inscriptions! from ex-colere in the sense of " the hill 
Latinae selectae, No. 3080. outside the city" (O. Richter, I.e. ; O. 

3 Porta Querquetulana or . Querque- Gilbert, Geschichte und Topographie der 
tularia ; see Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 37 ; Stadt Rom im Altertum, i. 166 sy.). 
Festus, pp. 260, 261, ed. C. O. * See above, p. 1 82. 

Mi ^ 1!e /- 8 Ovid, Fasti, iii. 295 so. 

* Festus, II. cc. ; Varro, De hngua 

Latino, v 49 . See above, vol. i. p. 18 ; and for 

6 E/Babelon, Monnaies de la Re- the identification, O. Gilbert, Geschichte 

publique Romaine, i. 99 sq. und Topographie der Sladt Rom im 

e Varro, De lingua Latina, v. 49, Altertum, li. 152 sqq. ; A. B. Cook, 

where, however, "alii ab aesculetis" " Zeus, Jupiter, and the Oak," C/awira/ 

is a conjecture 'of C. O. Miiller's. I R*n*>, xviii. (1904) p. 366. 

do not know what authority O. Richter 10 Cicero, De divinatione, i. 45. 101. 

1 86 

does an oak appear growing beside the temple of Vesta on a 
fine relief preserved in the gallery of the Urfizi at Florence, but 
The sacred charred embers of the sacred Vestal fire have in recent years 
felTwith" 5 been discovered at the temple of Vesta in the Forum, and a 
oak-wood, microscopic analysis of them has proved that they consist of 
the pith or heart of trunks or great branches of oak (quercus}} 
The full significance of this discovery will appear later on. 
When the plebeians seceded to the Janiculum in the third 
century before Christ, the dictator Q. Hortensius summoned 
a meeting of the people and passed a law in an oak grove, 
which perhaps grew on the hill. 2 In this neighbourhood 
there was a street called the Street of the Oak Grove ; it is 
mentioned in an inscription found in its original position near 
the modern Garibaldi bridge. 3 On the Vatican hill there 
stood an evergreen oak which was believed to be older than 
Rome ; an inscription in Etruscan letters on a bronze tablet 
proclaimed the sanctity of the tree. 4 Finally, that oak 
woods existed at or near Rome in the earliest times has 
lately been demonstrated by the discovery in the Forum itself 
of a prehistoric cemetery, which contains amongst other 
sepultures the bones of several young children deposited in 
rudely hollowed trunks of oak. 5 With all this evidence 
before us we need not wonder that Virgil should speak ot 
the primitive inhabitants of Rome as " born of the tree- 
trunks and the heart of oak," and that the Roman kings 

1 G. Boni, in Notizie degli Scavi, lit on the first of March (Ovid, Fasti, 

May 1900, pp. 161, 172 ; id., Aedes iii. 143 sq, ; Macrobius, Saturn, i. 12. 

Vestae, p. 14 (extract from the Nuova 6), which may imply that the old fire 

Antologia, 1st August 1900). Copies was ceremonially extinguished, as often 

of these and other papers containing happens in such cases. 

Commendatore Boni's account of his a Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 37. 

memorable excavations and discoveries 3 O. Richter, Topographie der Stadt 

were kindly given me by him during Rom? p. 2 1 1 . 

my stay in Rome in the winter of 1900- * Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 237. The 
1901. That the fire in question was a inscription was probably not in the 
sacrificial one is proved by the bones, Etruscan language, but only in an 
potsherds, and rude copper money archaic alphabet like that employed in 
found among the ashes. Commend. the inscription on the pyramidal stone 
Boni thinks that the charred remains which has been found under the Black 
of the wood prove that the fire was Stone in the Forum, 
extinguished, probably by libations, 5 G. Boni, "BimbiRomulei," Nuova 
and that therefore it cannot have been Antologia, i6th February 1904, pp. 5 
the perpetual holy fire of Vesta, which sqq. (separate reprint) ; E. Burton- 
would have burned up completely all Brown, Recent Excavations in the 
the fuel. But a new fire was annually Roman Forum (London, 1904)) P- 1$' 


should have worn crowns of oak leaves in imitation of the 
oak-god Jupiter, who dwelt in his sacred grove on the Capitol. 

If the kings of Rome aped Capitoline Jove, their prede- The Aiban 
cessors the kings of Alba probably laid themselves out to ^ n v | s may 
mimic the great Latian Jupiter, who had his seat above the imitated 
city on the summit of the Alban Mountain. Latinus, the [jSJ t 
legendary ancestor of the dynasty, was said to have been w ho dwelt 
changed into Latian Jupiter after vanishing from the world of the 6 * 
in the mysterious fashion characteristic of the old Latin Alban 
kings. 1 The sanctuary of the god on the top of the 
mountain was the religious centre of the Latin League, as 
Alba was its political capital till Rome wrested the supre- 
macy from its ancient rival. Apparently no temple, in our 
sense of the word, was ever erected to Jupiter on this his holy 
mountain ; as god of the sky and thunder he appropriately 
received the homage of his worshippers in the open air. The 
massive wall, of which some remains still enclose the old 
garden of the Passionist monastery, seems to have been part 
of the sacred precinct which Tarquin the Proud, the last 
king of Rome, marked out for the solemn annual assembly 
of the Latin League. 2 The god's oldest sanctuary on this 
airy mountain-top was a grove ; 8 and bearing in mind 
not merely the special consecration of the oak to Jupiter, but 
also the traditional oak crown of the Alban kings and the 
analogy of the Capitoline Jupiter at Rome, we may suppose 
that the trees in the grove were oaks. 4 We know that in The 
antiquity Mount Algidus, an outlying group of the Alban 
hills, was covered with dark forests of oak ; 5 and among the antiquity. 

1 Festus, s.v. "Oscillantes," p. 194, Italy and Rome, 13 p. 400). It is fitting 
ed. C. O. Miiller. enough that the atmospheric phenomena 

2 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Anti- should be observed by modern science 
quit. Rom. iv. 49 ; A. Schwegler, on the spot where they were wor- 
Romische Geschichte, i. 341 ; H. Nissen, shipped by ancient piety. 

Italische Landeskunde, ii. 580. It is 8 Livy, i. 31. 3. 

to be observed that Dionysius does not 4 According to tradition, the future 

here speak of the dedication of a temple site of Alba Longa was marked out by 

to Jupiter ; when he describes the a white sow and her litter, which were 

foundation of the temple of Capitoline found lying under evergreen oaks (Vir- 

Jupiter by Tarquin (iv. 59 and 61) gil, Aen. viii. 43), as Mr. A. B. Cook 

his language is quite different. The has pointed out (Classical Review, 

monastery, founded in 1 77 7 by Cardinal xviii. 363). The tradition seems to 

York, the last of the Stuarts, has now shew that the neighbourhood of the city 

been converted into a meteorological was wooded with oaks, 
station and an inn (K. Baedeker, Central 6 See below, p. 380. 



of the 
woods of 

The pros- 
pect from 
the Alban 
Mount in 

tribes who belonged to the Latin League in the earliest days, 
and were entitled to share the flesh of the white bull sacrificed 
on the Alban Mount, there was one whose members styled 
themselves the Men of the Oak, 1 doubtless on account of 
the woods among which they dwelt. 

But we should err if we pictured to ourselves the country 
as covered in historical times with an unbroken forest of oaks. 
Theophrastus has left us a description of the woods of Latium 
as they were in the fourth century before Christ. He says : 
" The land of the Latins is all moist. The plains produce 
laurels, myrtles, and wonderful beeches ; for they fell trees 
of such a size that a single stem suffices for the keel of a 
Tyrrhenian ship. Pines and firs grow in the mountains. What 
they call the land of Circe is a lofty headland thickly wooded 
with oak, myrtle, and luxuriant laurels. The natives say that 
Circe dwelt there, and they shew the grave of Elpenor, from 
which grow myrtles such as wreaths are made of, whereas the 
other myrtle-trees are tall." 2 Thus the prospect from the top 
of the Alban Mount in the early days of Rome must have been 
very different in some respects from what it is to-day. The 
purple Apennines, indeed, in their eternal calm on the one 
hand, and the shining Mediterranean in its eternal unrest on 
the other, no doubt looked then much as they look now, 
whether bathed in sunshine, or chequered by the fleeting 
shadows of clouds ; but instead of the desolate brown 
expanse of the fever-stricken Campagna, spanned by its 
long lines of ruined aqueducts, like the broken arches of the 
bridge in the vision of Mirza, the eye must have ranged over 
woodlands that stretched away, mile after mile, on all sides, 
till their varied hues of green or autumnal scarlet and 
gold melted insensibly into the blue of the distant mountains 
and sea. 

Thus the Alban Mount was to the Latins what Olympus 
was to the Greeks, the lofty abode of the sky -god, who 
hurled his thunderbolts from above the clouds. The white 

1 Querquetulani. See Pliny, Nat. 
Hist. iii. 69 ; Dionysius Halicarnasensis, 
Antiquit. Rom. v. 6l. As to the 
white bulls sacrificed at the great 
Latin festival and partaken of by the 
members of the League, see Arnobius, 

Adversus nationes, ii. 68 ; Dionysius 
Halicarnasensis, Ant. Rom. iv. 49. 
Compare Cicero, Pro Plancio, ix. 23 ; 
Varro, De lingua Latina, vi. 25. 

2 Theophrastus, Histor. plant, v. 


steers which were here sacrificed to him in his sacred grove, Resem- 
as in the Capitol at Rome, 1 remind us of the white bulls |^2n 
which the Druids of Gaul sacrificed under the holy oak when the Latin 
they cut the mistletoe; 2 and the parallel would be all the J^P 
closer if, as we have seen reason to think, the Latins and the 

i j T 11 c i ^ 1 Druidical 

worshipped Jupiter originally in groves of oak. Other worship of 
resemblances between ancient Gaul and Latium will meet us the oak - 
later on. When we remember that the ancient Italian and 
Celtic peoples spoke languageswhich are nearly related to each 
other, 3 we shall not be surprised at discovering traces of 
community in their religion, especially in what concerns the 
worship of the god of the oak and the thunder. For that 
worship, as we shall see presently, belongs to the oldest 
stratum of Aryan civilisation in Europe. 

But Jupiter did not reign alone on the top of his holy Sacred 
mountain. He had his consort with him, the goddess Juno, 
who was worshipped here under the same title, Moneta, as Juno. 
on the Capitol at Rome. 4 As the oak crown was sacred to 
Jupiter and Juno on the Capitol, 5 so we may suppose it was 
on the Alban Mount, from which the Capitoline worship 
was derived. Thus the oak-god would have his oak-goddess 
in the sacred oak grove. So at Dodona the oak-god Zeus 
was coupled with Dione, whose very name is only a dialec- 
tically different form of Juno ; 6 and so on the top of 
Mount Cithaeron he was periodically wedded to an oaken 

1 Arnobius, Adversus nationes, ii. Alps that the contact of Celts and 
68 ; Livy, xxii. 10. 7 ; Ovid, Ex Ponto, Teutons came about" (Isaac Taylor, 
iv. 4. 31 ; Servius on Virgil, Georg. The Origin of the Aryans, p. 192; 
ii. 146 ; Horace, Carmen Saeculare, 49. compare id. p. 257). See also P. 

2 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 250 sq. Giles, Manual of Comparative Phil- 

3 "Italic and Keltic are so closely ology* (London, 1901), p. 26. 
bound together by important phonetic 4 Livy, xlii. 7. I, xlv. 15. 10. Com- 
and morphological affinities that they pare Dio Cassius> xxxix . 2O . ,. The 
are sometimes spoken of as one branch ' temple on the Alban Mount was dedi . 
of Aryan speech (J. H. Moulton, Two cated in l6g B c ^ but the wors hi p was 
Lectures on the Science of Language, doubtless far older. 

Cambridge, 1903. p. 6, note). "The - 
connection of thV Celtic and Italic 6 See above > ^ V 6 * ^ 
languages is structural. It is much 6 Strabo, vii. 7. 12, p. 329 ; Hyper- 
deeper than that of Celts and Teutons, ides, Or. iii. coll. 35-37, pp. 43 *? 
and goes back to an earlier epoch. ed. Blass ; G. Curtius, Griech. Ety- 
Celts and Latins must have dwelt mologic? p. 236 ; W. H. Roscher, 
together as an undivided people in the funo und Hera (Leipsic, 1875), pp. 17 
valley of the Danube, and it must have sq. ; id., Lexikon 'd. griech. u. rbm. 
been at a much later time after the Mythologie, ii. coll. 576, 578 sq. See 
Umbrians and Latins had crossed the below, p. 381. 


image of Hera. 1 It is probable, though it cannot be 
positively proved, that the sacred marriage of Jupiter 
and Juno was annually celebrated by all the peoples of 
the Latin stock in the month which they named after 
Janus and the goddess, the midsummer month of June. 2 Now on 
Carna. fae first of June the Roman pontiffs performed certain rites 
in the grove of Helernus beside the Tiber, and on the same 
day, and perhaps in the same place, a nymph of the grove, 
by name Carna, received offerings of lard and bean-porridge. 
She was said to be a huntress, chaste and coy, who gave 
the slip to her lovers in the depths of the wood, but was 
caught by Janus. Some took her to be Diana herself. 3 
If she were indeed a form of that goddess, her union with 
Janus, that is, Dianus, would be appropriate ; and as she 
had a chapel on the Caelian hill, which was once covered 
with oak-woods, 4 she may have been, like Egeria, an <>ak- 
nymph. Further, Janus, or Dianus, and Diana, as we shall 
see later on, were originally mere doubles of Jupiter and 
Juno, with whom they coincide in name and to some extent 
in function. Hence it appears to be not impossible that 
the rite celebrated by the pontiffs on the first of June in the 

1 See above, pp. 140 sqq. Ad nationes, ii. 9 ; Varro, quoted by 

2 W. H. Roscher, Juno und Hera, Nonius Marcellus, De compendiosa 
pp. 64 sqq . ; id., Ltxikon d. griech. u. doctrina, p. 390, ed. L. Quicherat. 
rom. Mythologie, ii. 575 sq., 591 sqq. There was a sacred beechen grove of 
At Falerii the image of Juno was Diana on a hill called Corne near Tuscu- 
annually carried in procession from her lum (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 242). But 
sacred grove, and in some respects the Corne has probably no connection with 
ceremony resembled a marriage pro- Carna. The grove of Helemus was 
cession (Ovid, Amores, iii. 13 ; Diony- crowded with worshippers on the first 
sius Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. of February (Ovid, Fasti, ii. 67, where 
i. 21). The name of June \vasjunitts Helerni is a conjectural emendation 
at Rome, Junonius at Aricia, Lauren- for Averni or Asylt). Nothing else is 
turn and Lavinia, and Junonalis at known about Helernus, unless with 
Tibur and Praeneste (Ovid, Fasti, vi. Merkel (in his edition of Ovid's Fasti, 
59-63; Macrobius, Sat. i. 12. 30). pp. cxlviii. sf.) we read Elerno for 
The forms Junonius and Junonalis are Eterno in Festus, p. 93, ed. C. O. 
recognised by Festus (p. 103, ed. C. O. Miiller. In that case it would seem 
Muller). Their existence among the that black oxen were sacrificed to him. 
Latins seems to render the derivation From the association of Carna with 
of Junius from Juno quite certain, Janus it was inferred by Merkel (I.e. ) 
though that derivation is doubted by that the grove of Helernus stood on or 
Mr. W. Warde Fowler (Roman Festivals near the Janiculum, where there was a 
of the Period of the Republic, pp. 99 grove of oaks (see above, p. 186). But 
sq. ). the language of Ovid (Fasti, ii. 67) 

3 Ovid, Fasti, vi. 101-168; Macro- points rather to the mouth of the Tiber, 
bius, Sat. L 12. 31-33; Tertullian, 4 See above, p. 185. 


sacred grove of Helernus was the marriage of Jupitei 

and Juno under the forms of Janus and Diana. It would Ancient 

be some confirmation of this view if we could be sure that. us , e .. of , 

' white thorn 

as Ovid seems to imply, the Romans were in the habit or buck- 
of placing branches of white thorn or buckthorn in their ^^ 
windows on the first of June to keep out the witches ; * witchcraft, 
for in some parts of Europe precisely the same custom 
is observed, for the same reason, a month earlier, on the 
marriage day of the King and Queen of May. 2 The Greeks 
certainly believed that branches of white thorn or buckthorn 
fastened to a door or outside the house had power to dis- 
arm the malignant arts of sorcerers 8 and to exclude spirits. 
Hence they hung up branches of it before the door when 
sacrifices were being offered to the dead, lest any of the 
prowling ghosts should be tempted to revisit their old homes 
or to invade those of other people. 4 When the atheist Bion 
lay adying, he not only caused sacrifices to be offered on his 
behalf to the gods whose existence he had denied, but got 
an old hag to mumble incantations over him and to bind 
magical thongs about his arms, and he had boughs of buck- 
thorn and laurel attached to the lintel to keep out death. 5 
However, the evidence as to the rites observed by the 
Romans on the first of June is too slight and dubious to 
allow us to press the parallel with May Day. 

If at any time of the year the Romans celebrated the At the 
sacred marriage of Jupiter and Juno, as the Greeks com- marriage 
monly celebrated the corresponding marriage of Zeus and of Jupiter 
Hera, 6 we may suppose that under the Republic the cere- ^1.^" 
mony was either performed over images of the divine pair times the 
or acted by the Flamen Dialis and his wife the Flaminica. the deities 
For the Flamen Dialis was the priest of Jove : indeed, mav have 

, , , . . . , been acted 

ancient and modern writers have regarded him, with much by the 

1 Ovid, Fasti, vi. 129-168. A thorn were also thought to protect a 

Roman bride on the way to her hus- house against thunderbolts (Columella, 

band's house was preceded by a boy De re rustica, x. 346 sg.). 

bearing a torch of buckthorn (spina 2 See above, p. 54. 

alba, Festus, s.v. " Patrimi," p. 245, 3 Dioscorides, De arte medico, i. 

ed. C. O. Miiller; Varro, quoted by 119. 

Nonius Marcellus, De compendiosa * Scholiast on Nicander, Theriaca, 

doctrina, s.v. "Fax," p. Ii6, ed. L. 86 1. 

Quicherat). The intention probably 6 Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philo- 

was to defend her from enchantment sophorum, iv. 54-57- 

and evil spirits. Branches of buck- 6 See above, p. 143. 




Dialis and 


may have 
been the 
deputies of 
the king 
and queen. 

probability, as a living image of Jupiter, a human embodi- 
ment of the sky-god. 1 In earlier times the Roman king, as 
representative of Jupiter, would naturally play the part of 
the heavenly bridegroom at the sacred marriage, while his 
queen would figure as the heavenly bride, just as in Egypt 
the king and queen masqueraded in the character of deities, 
and as at Athens the queen annually wedded the vine-god 
Dionysus. That the Roman king and queen should act the 
parts of Jupiter and Juno would seem all the more natural 
because these deities themselves bore the title of King and 
Queen. 2 Even if the office of Flamen Dialis existed under 
the kings, as it appears to have done, the double representa- 
tion of Jupiter by the king and the flamen need not have 
seemed extraordinary to the Romans of the time. The 
same sort of duplication, as we saw, appears to have taken 
place at Alba, when the Julii were allowed to represent the 
supreme god in the character of Little Jupiters, while the 
royal dynasty of the Silvii continued to wield the divine 
thunder and lightning.f And long ages afterwards, history 
repeating itself, another member of the Julian house, the 
first emperor of Rome, was deified in his lifetime under the 
title of Jupiter, while a flamen was appointed to do for him 
what the Flamen Dialis did for the heavenly Jove. 4 It is 
said that Numa, the typical priestly king, at first himself 
discharged the functions of Flamen Dialis, but afterwards 
appointed a separate priest of Jupiter with that title, in 
order that the kings, untrammeled by the burdensome 
religious observances attached to the priesthood, might be 
free to lead their armies to battle. 5 The tradition may be 
substantially correct ; for analogy shews that the functions 

1 Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. ill elicits 
fi^v ofiv <rTi Kal rbv iepta rov Aids &ffirep 
Zp.\l/vxov Kal lepov ayd\/J.a Ka.Ta(pv^i/J.ov 
aveiaOai TOIS Seon&ois ; L. Preller, 
Romische Mythologie? i. 20 1 ; F. B. 
Jevons, Plutarch's Romane Questions, 
p. Ixxiii. ; C. Julian, in Daremberg et 
Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquitts 
grecques et romaines, ii. 1156 sqq, 

2 Cicero, De re publica, iii. 13. 22 ; 
Virgil, Aen. x. 1 1 2 ; Horace, Sat. 
ii. I. 42 sq, ; Ovid, Fasti, vi. 37 ; 
Varro, De lingua Latina, \. 6. 7 ; 

Livy, v. 21. 2, v. 23. 7 ; Pliny, Nat. 
Hist. xxxv. 115; Flavius Vopiscus, 
Probus, xii. 7 ; L. Preller, Romische 
Mythologie^ \. 205, 284; W. H. 
Roscher, Lexikon d. griech. u. rim. 
Mythologie, ii. 600 sqq. 

3 See above, pp. 1 79 sq. 

4 Cicero, Philippics, ii. 43. 1 10 ; 
Suetonius, Divus Julius, 76 ; Dio 
Cassius, xliv. 6. The coincidence has 
been pointed out by Mr. A. B. Cook 
(Classical Review, xviii. 371). 

5 Livy, i. 20. I sq. 


of a priestly king are too harassing and too incongruous to 
be permanently united in the same hands, and that sooner 
or later the holder of the office seeks to rid himself of part 
of his burden by deputing to others, according to his temper 
and tastes, either his civil or his religious duties. Hence we 
may take it as probable that the righting kings of Rome, 
tired of parading as Jupiter and of observing all the 
elaborate ritual, all the tedious restrictions which the char- 
acter of godhead entailed on them, were glad to relegate 
these pious mummeries to a substitute, in whose hands they 
left the crosier at home while they went forth to wield the 
sharp Roman sword abroad. This would explain why the 
traditions of the later kings, from Tullus Hostilius onwards, 
exhibit so few traces of sacred or priestly functions adhering 
to their orifice. Among the ceremonies which they hence- 
forward performed by deputy may have been the rite of the 
sacred marriage. 

Whether that was so or not, the legend of Numa and At the 
Egeria appears to embody a reminiscence of a time when Carriage 
the priestly king himself played the part of the divine bride- the Kin e 

A U 4.U and Queen 

groom ; and as we have seen reason to suppose that the O f Rome 
Roman kings personated the oak-god, while Egeria is ex- P robabl y 

,. . . personated 

pressly said to have been an oak-nymph, the story of their the god 
union in the sacred grove raises a presumption that at Rome ^ g d the 
in the regal period a ceremony was periodically performed oak. 
exactly analogous to that which was annually celebrated at 
Athens down to the time of Aristotle. 1 The marriage of the 
King of Rome to the oak-goddess, like the wedding of the 
vine-god to the Queen of Athens, must have been intended 

1 Numa was not the only Roman Geschichte, i. 478, note IO ; L. Preller, 

king who is said to have enjoyed the Romische Mythologie? i. 372. Again, 

favours of a goddess. Romulus was of King Servius Tullius we read how 

married to Hersilia, who seems to have the goddess Fortuna, smitten with love 

been a Sabine goddess. Ovid tells us of him, used to enter his house nightly 

how, when the dead Romulus had been by a window. See Ovid, Fasti, vi. 569 

raised to the rank of a god under the sqq. ; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 

name of Quirinus, his widow Hersilia 36; id., De fortuna Romanorum, 10. 

was deified as his consort. Thus, if However, the origin and nature of 

Quirinus was a Sabine oak-god, his Fortuna are too obscure to allow us 

wife would be an oak-goddess, like to base any conclusions on this legend. 

Egeria. See Ovid, Metam. xiv. 829- For various more or less conjectural 

851. Compare Livy, i. II. 2; explanations of the goddess see \V. 

Plutarch, Numa, {4. On Hersilia as Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals of the 

a goddess see A. Schwegler, Romische Period of the Republic, pp. 161-172. 


to quicken the growth of vegetation by homoeopathic 
magic. Of the two forms of the rite we can hardly doubt 
that the Roman was the older, and that long before the 
northern invaders met with the vine on the shores of the 
Mediterranean their forefathers had married the tree -god 
to the tree-goddess in the vast oak forests of Central and 
Northern Europe. In the England of our day the forests 
have mostly disappeared, yet still on many a village green 
and in many a country lane a faded image of the sacred 
marriage lingers in the rustic pageantry of May Day. 


THUS far we have dealt mainly with those instances of the Sacred 
Sacred Marriage in which a human being is wedded to the ^J^^ ge 
divine powers of vegetation or water. Now we pass to the Fire-god 
consideration of a different class of cases, in which the divine 

bridegroom is the fire and his bride a human virgin. And 
these cases are particularly important for our present enquiry 
into the early Latin kingship, since it appears that the old 
Latin kings were commonly supposed to be the offspring 
of the fire-god by mortal mothers. The evidence which 
points to this conclusion is as follows. 

First, let us take the legend of the birth of King Servius Legend of 
Tullius. It is said that one day the virgin Ocrisia, a ^ e ^ h 
slave-woman of Queen Tanaquil, the wife of King Tarquin Servius 
the elder, was offering as usual cakes and libations 
wine on the royal hearth, when a flame in the shape of fire 
the male member shot out from the fire. Taking this for 
a sign that her handmaiden was to be the mother of a more 
than mortal son, the wise Queen Tanaquil bade the girl 
array herself as a bride and lie down beside the hearth. 
Her orders were obeyed ; Ocrisia conceived by the god or 
spirit of the fire, and in - due time brought forth Servius 
Tullius, who was thus born a slave, being the reputed son 
of a slave mother and a divine father, the fire-god. His 
birth from the fire was attested in his childhood by a lambent 
flame which played about his head as he slept at noon in 
the king's palace. 1 This story, as others have pointed 

1 Plutarch, De fortuna Romano- Fasti, vi. 627-636 ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. 
rum, 10 ; Dionysius Halicarnasensis, ii. 241, xxxvi. 204 ; Livy, i. 39 ; 
Antiquit. Rom. iv. I sq. ; Ovid, Servius on Virgil, Aen. ii. 68j ; 



out before, 1 seems clearly to imply that the mother 
of Servius was a Vestal Virgin charged with the care and 
Legend of worship of the sacred fire in the king's house. Now, in 
of Romulus Promathion's History of Italy, cited by Plutarch, a similar 
from the tale was told of the birth of Romulus himself. It is 
said that in the house of the King of Alba a flame 
like to the male organ of generation hung over the hearth 
for many days. Learning from an oracle that a virgin 
should conceive by this phantom and bear a son of great 
valour and renown, the king bade one of his daughters 
submit to its embraces, but she disdained to do so, and sent 
her handmaid instead. Angry at her disobedience, her 
father ordered both the maidens to be put to death. But 
Vesta appeared to him in a dream, forbade the execution, 
and commanded that both the girls should be imprisoned 
until they had woven a certain web, after which they were 
to be given in marriage. But the web was never finished, 
for as fast as they wove it by day, other maidens, in 
obedience to the king's orders, unwove it at night. Mean- 
time the handmaiden conceived by the flame of fire, and 
gave birth to Romulus and Remus. 2 In this legend, as in 
the story of the birth of Servius Tullius, it is plain that the 
mother of the future King of Rome was both a slave and 
a priestess of Vesta. Orthodox Roman tradition always 
admitted that she was a Vestal, but naturally enough 
represented her as the king's daughter rather than his slave. 

Arnobius, Adversus nationes, v. 18. was found in 1857 in an Etruscan 

According to the Etruscan annals, tomb at Vulci. See G. Dennis, Cities 

Servius Tullius was an Etruscan by and Cemeteries of Etruriap ii. 506 sq. 

name Mastarna, who came to Rome But from this it by no means follows 

with his friend Caeles Vibenna, and, that the identification of Mastarna 

changing his name, obtained the with Servius Tullius was correct, 

kingdom. This was stated by the Schwegler preferred the Roman to 

Emperor Claudius in a speech of which the Etruscan tradition (Romische 

fragments are engraved on a bronze Geschichte, i. 720 sq. ), and so, after 

tablet found at Lyons. See Tacitus, long hesitation, did Niebuhr (History 

Annals, ed. Orelli, 2 p. 342. As the of Rome* i. 380 sqq.}. It is fair to 

emperor wrote a history of Etruria add that both these historians wrote 

in twenty books (Suetonius, Divus before the discovery of the tomb at 

Claudius, 42) he probably had some Vulci. 

authority for the statement and the t Sch le R - omische Geschichtet 

historical, or at least legendary, L R s m i sc he Mytho- 

character of Mastarna and Caeles , . 3 .. 
Vibenna is vouched for by a painting 

inscribed with their names, which 2 Plutarch, Romulus, 2. 

xiv THE KING'S FIRE 197 

The god Mars, it was said, got her with child as she drew 
water in his sacred grove. 1 However, when we compare 
this legend with the similar story of the birth of Servius, 
we may suspect that Promathion has preserved, though 
perhaps in a perverted form, an old feature of the Latin 
kingship, namely, that one of the king's parents might be, 
and sometimes was, a slave. Whether that was so or not, 
such tales at least bear witness to an old belief that the 
early Roman kings were born of virgins and of the fire. 
Similarly Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste, passed for a Legend of 
son of Vulcan. It was said that his mother conceived him tl j% birth . 

of Caeculus 

through a spark, which leapt from the fire and struck her as from the 
she sat by the hearth. She exposed the child near a temple fire ' 
of Jupiter, and he was found there beside a fire by some 
maidens who were going to draw water. In after-life he 
proved his divine birth by working an appropriate miracle. 
When an infidel crowd refused to believe that he was the 
son of a god, he prayed to his father, and immediately the 
unbelievers were surrounded with a flame of fire. 2 More 
than this, the whole of the Alban dynasty appear to have 
traced their descent from a Vestal, for the wife of King 
Latinus, their legendary ancestor, was named Amata 3 or 
Beloved, and this was the regular title bestowed on a Vestal 
after her election, 4 a title which cannot be fully understood 
except in the light of the foregoing traditions, which seem 
to shew that the Vestals were regularly supposed to be beloved 
by the fire-god. Moreover, fire is said to have played round 
the head of Amata's daughter Lavinia, 5 just as it played round 
the head of the fire -born Servius Tullius. As the same 
prodigy was reported of Julus or Ascanius, the son of 
Aeneas, 6 we may suspect that a similar legend was told of 
his miraculous conception at the hearth. 

1 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. daughter Lavinia, the ancestress of the 
Rom. i. 76 sq. ; Livy, i. 3 sq. ; Alban kings. See above, vol. i. p. 14. 
Plutarch, Romulus, 3; Zonaras, 6 Virgil, Aen. vii. 71-77. 

Annal. vii. I ; Justin, xliii. 2. 1-3. a Virgil, Aen. ii. 680-686. We 

2 Servius on Virgil, Aen. vii. 678. may compare the halo with which the 

3 Virgil, Aen. vii. 343. vainglorious and rascally artist of genius, 
* Aulus Gellius, i. 12. 14 and 19. Benvenuto Cellini, declared his head to 

Compare L. Preller, Romische Mytho- be encircled. " Ever since the time of 

logiep ii. 161, .344. There was a my strange vision until now," says he, 

very ancient worship of Vesta at "an aureole of glory (marvellous to 

Lavinium, the city named after Amata's relate) has rested on my head. This 




wives of 
the fire- 

The Vestal Now we may take it as certain that the Romans and 
Virgins Latins would never have traced the descent of their kings from 

seem to 

have been Vestal Virgins unless they had thought that such a descent, far 
from being a stain, was, under certain circumstances, highly 
honourable. What the circumstances were that permitted a 
Vestal to become a mother, not only with impunity but 
with honour and glory, appear plainly from the stories of 
the birth of Caeculus, Romulus, and Servius Tullius. If she 
might not know a mortal man, she was quite free, and indeed 
was encouraged, to conceive and bear a son to the fire-god. 
In fact the legends suggest that the Vestals were regularly 
regarded as the fire-god's wives. This would explain why 
they were bound to chastity during their term of service : 
the bride must be true to her divine bridegroom. And the 
theory of chastity could, be easily reconciled with the practice 
of maternity by allowing a man to masquerade as the fire- 
god at a sacred marriage, just as in Egypt the king disguised 
himself as the god Ammon when he wedded the queen, 1 
or as among the Ewe tribes the priest poses as the python- 
god when he goes in to the human brides of the serpent. 2 
Thus the doctrine of the divine birth of kings presents no 
serious difficulty to people who believe that a god may be 
made flesh in a man, and that a virgin may conceive and 
bear him a son. Of course the theory of the divine mother- 
hood of the Vestals applies only to the early regal and there- 
fore prehistoric period. Under the Republic the demand for 
kings had ceased, and with it, therefore, the supply. Yet a 
trace of the old view of the Vestals as virgin mothers lingered 
down to the latest times in the character of Vesta herself, 
their patroness and type ; for Vesta always bore the official 
title of Mother, never that of Virgin. 3 We may surmise that 
a similar belief and practice once obtained in Attica. For 

is visible to every sort of men to whom 
I have chosen to point it out ; but 
those have been very few. This halo 
can be observed above my shadow in 
the morning from the rising of the sun 
for about two hours, and far better 
when the grass is drenched with dew. 
It is also visible at evening about sun- 
set. I became aware of it in France 
at Paris ; for the air in those parts is so 
much freer from mist, that one can see it 

there far better manifested than in Italy, 
mists being far more frequent among 
us." See The Life of Benvenuto 
Cellini, translated by J. Addington 
Symonds 3 (London, 1889), pp. 279 

1 See above, pp. 131 sqq. 

2 A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking 
peoples of the Slave Coast of West 
Africa, p. 60. See above, pp. 149 sq. 

3 See below, p. 229. 


Erichthonius, king of Athens, is said to have been a son of 
the fire-god Hephaestus by the virgin goddess Athena : the 
story told of his miraculous birth from the ground, which had 
been impregnated by the seed of the fire-god, is clearly a later 
version devised to save the virginity of his mother. 1 The 
perpetual lamp of Athena, which burned in the Erechtheum 
or house of Erechtheus (who was identical with Erichthonius) 
on the acropolis of Athens, 2 may have answered to the 
perpetual fire of Vesta at Rome ; and it is possible that the 
maidens called Arrephoroi or Errephoroi, who dwelt close to 
the Erechtheum, 3 may at one time have personated Athena 
and passed, like the Vestals, for wives of the fire-god. 

It has, indeed, been held that the Vestals were of old the Rational- 
king's daughters, who were kept at home and forbidden to marry of 1 ^* ec 
for no other reason than that they might devote themselves to duties of 
the domestic duties of drawing water, mopping the house, 
tending the fire, and baking cakes. 4 But this rationalistic 
theory could hardly explain the superstitious horror 
which the infidelity of a Vestal always excited in the Roman 
mind. Customs which begin in reason seldom end in 
superstition. It is likely, therefore, that the rule of chastity 
imposed on the Vestals was based from the first on a 
superstition rather than on a mere consideration of practical 
convenience. The belief that the Vestals were the spouses 
of the fire-god would explain the rule. 5 We have seen that 
the practice of marrying women to gods has been by no 
means uncommon. If the spirit of the water has his 
human wife, why not the spirit of the fire? Indeed, 
primitive man has a special reason for thinking that the 
fire-god should always be married. What that reason 
is, I will now try to explain. 

1 Apollodorus iii. 14. 6 ; Schol. on cated by me (Journal of Philology, 
Homer, Iliad, ii. 547 ; J. Tzetzes, xiv. (1885) pp. 154 sqq.) As to the 
Chiliades, v. 669 sq. ; Augustine, De duties of the Vestals see J. Marquardt, 
civitate Dei, xviii. 12. Rbmisehe Staatsverwaltung, iii. 2 pp. 

2 Pausanias i. 26. 6 sq. ; Strabo ix. 342 sqq. 

1 . 1 6, p. 396 ; Plutarch, Numa, 9 ; id. , 5 This explanation was first, so far 

Sulla, 13. As to the identity of as I know, given by me in my Lectures 

Erechtheus and Erichthonius see my on the Early History of the Kingship 

note on Pausanias, i. 18. 2 (vol. ii. p. (London, 1905), p. 221. It has since 

169). been adopted by Mr. E. Fehrle (Die 

s Pausanias, i. 27. 3, with my note. kultische Keuschheit im Altertutu, 

4 The theory was formerly advo- Giessen, 1910, pp. 210 sqq.}. 


The Vestal But first it is necessary to apprehend clearly that the 
fire of later Vestal fire of republican and imperial Rome was strictly 

times was . r , - , . , . , , 

a continua- the successor or continuation of the fire which in the regal 

tion of the p er { o d h a( j burned on the king's hearth. That it was so 

king's appears plainly from the stories of the birth of Romulus 

hearth. anc j s erv j us Tullius, which shew that Vesta was believed to 

be worshipped at the royal fireside by maidens who were 

either the king's daughters or his slaves. This conclusion is 

amply confirmed by a study of the temple of Vesta and the 

The adjoining edifices in the Roman Forum. For the so-called 

round temple of the goddess never was, strictly speaking, a temple 

vSt P a e a f at a11 - This fact we have on the a uthority of Varro 
copy of himself, the greatest of Roman antiquaries. 1 The little 
itaiianTut! round building in which the sacred fire always burned was 
merely a copy of the round hut in which the king, like his 
subjects, had dwelt in days of old. Tradition preserved a 
memory of the time when its walls were made of wattled 
osiers and the roof was of thatch ; 2 indeed, with that 
peculiar clinging to the forms of the past which is 
characteristic of royalty and religion, the inmost shrine 
continued down even to late times to be fashioned of the 
same simple materials. 3 The hut of Romulus, or what 
passed for it, constructed of wood, reeds, and straw, was 
always preserved and carefully repaired in the original style. 
It stood on the side of the Palatine hill facing the Circus 
Maximus. 4 A similar hut, roofed with thatch, was in like 
manner maintained on the Capitoline hill, and traditionally 
associated with Romulus. 5 The so-called temple of Vesta in 
historical times stood not on any of the hills, but in the 
Forum, at the northern foot of the Palatine. Its situation 
in the flat ground is quite consistent with the view that the 
building represents the king's house of early, though not of 
the very earliest, times ; for, according to tradition, it was 

1 Aulus Gellius, xiv. 7. 7. Com- of the hut see also Plutarch, Romulus, 
pare Servius on Virgil, Aen. vii. 153, 20. 

ix. 4. 6 Conon, Narrationes, 48 ; Vitru- 

2 Ovid, Fasti, vi. 261 sf. vius, ii. I. 5, p. 35, ed. Rose and 

3 Festus, s.v. "penus," p. 250, ed. Muller-Strubing ; Macrobius, Saturn. 
C. O. Muller, where for saepius we i. 15. 10. Compare Virgil, Aen. 
must obviously read saeptus. viii. 653 sq. As to the two huts on 

4 Ovid, Fasti, i. 199, iii. 183 sq. ; the Palatine and the Capitol see A. 
Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Atitiyuit. Schwegler, Romische Geschichte, i. 
Rom. i. 79. ii. For the situation 394; L. Jahn on Macrobius, I.e. 


built by Numa in this position between the Palatine and the 
Capitol, at the time when he united the two separate towns 
on these hills and turned the low swampy ground between 
them into their common place of assembly. Here, too, 
beside the temple of Vesta, the king built himself a house, 
which was ever afterwards known as the Regia or palace ; 
formerly he had dwelt on the Quirinal. 1 In after-times this 
old palace of the kings was perhaps the official residence of their 
successor, the King of the Sacred Rites. 2 Adjoining it was 
the house of the Vestals, 8 at first, no doubt, a simple and 
unpretentious edifice, but afterwards a stately pile gathered 
round a spacious open court which must have resembled 
the cloister of a mediaeval monastery. We may assume 
that the kernel of this group of buildings was the round 
temple of Vesta, and that the hearth in it, on which burned 
the sacred fire, was originally the hearth of the king's 
house. That the so-called temple was built on the model of Hut-urns 
the round huts of the old Latins is proved by the discoveries Albino 1 
made at an ancient necropolis near Albano. (The ashes_of and Rome 
the dead were here deposited in urns, which are shaped like 
little round huts with conical roofs, obviously in order that 
the souls of the dead might live in houses such as they had 
inhabited during life. The roofs of these miniature dwellings 
are raised on cross-beams, sometimes with one or more 
holes to let out the smoke. The door is fastened by a 
crossbar, which is passed through a ring on the outside and 
tied to the two side-posts. In some of these hut-urns the 
side-posts are duplicated, or even triplicated, for the sake of 

1 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. der Stadt Rom im Altertum, i. 225, 
Rom. ii. 66; Plutarch, Numa, II 235 sq., 341, 344. As to the exist- 
and 14; Solinus, i. 21 ; Ovid, Fasti, ing remains of the Regia, the temple 
vi. 263 sqq. ; id., Tristia, iii. I. 29 of Vesta, and the house of the Vestals, 
sq. ; Tacitus, Annals, xv. 41. see O. Richter, Topographie der Stadt 

2 Servius on Virgil, Aen. viii. Rom,' i pp. 88 sqq. ; Ch. Huelsen, Die 
363. Festus, however, distinguishes Ausgrabungen auf dem Forum Ro- 
the old royal palace (Regia) from the tnanum 2 (Rome, 1903), pp. 62 sqq., 
house of the King of the Sacred Rites 88 sqq. ; Mrs. E. Burton - Brown, 
(s.v. " Sacram viam," pp. 290, 293, Recent Excavations in the Roman 
ed. C. O. Muller). In classical times Forum (London, 1904), pp. 26 sqq. 
the Regia was the residence or office of 3 Dio Cassius, liv. 27, who tells us 
the Pontifex Maximus ; but we can that Augustus annexed the house of 
hardly doubt that formerly it was the the King of the Sacred Rites to the 
house of the Rex Sacrorum. See O. house of the Vestals, on which it 
Gilbert, Geschichte und Topographie abutted. 



found in 

' ' Numa's 

used by 
the Vestals, 

ornament ; and it is probable that the ring of columns 
which encircled the little temple of Vesta in historical 
times was merely an extension of the door-posts of the 
prehistoric hut. The necropolis in which these urns were 
found must be very ancient, since it was buried under the 
streams of lava vomited by the Alban Mountain in 
eruption. But the mountain has not been an active volcano 
within historical times, unless, indeed, the showers of stones 
and the rain of blood often recorded as ominous prodigies 
by Roman writers may be explained as jets of pumice and 
red volcanic dust discharged by one of the craters. 1 The 
prehistoric burial-ground lately discovered in the Roman 
Forum has yielded several hut-urns of precisely the same 
shape as those of the Alban cemetery. Hence we may infer 
with tolerable certainty that the earliest Latin settlers both 
on the Alban hills and at Rome dwelt in round huts built 
of wattle and dab, 'with peaked roofs of thatch. 2 

If further evidence were needed to convince us that the 
round temple of Vesta merely reproduced a Roman house 
of the olden time, it might be supplied by the primitive 
vessels of coarse earthenware in which the Vestals always 
presented their offerings, and which, in memory of the 
artlessness of an earlier age, went by the name of 
" Numa's crockery." 3 A Greek historian, writing when 
Rome was at the height of her power and glory under 
Augustus, praises the Romans for the austere simplicity 
with which, in an age of vulgar wealth and ostentation, 
they continued to honour the gods of their fathers. 
" I have seen," said he, " meals set before the gods on 
old-fashioned wooden tables, in mats and earthenware 
dishes, the food consisting of barley loaves and cakes and 
spelt and firstfruits and such - like things, all plain and 

1 Many such phenomena are noted 
by Julius Obsequens in his book of 
prodigies, appended to W. Weissen- 
born's edition of Livy, vol. x. 2, pp. 
!93 S9<?- (Berlin, 1881). 

2 W. Helbig, Die Italiker in der 
Poebene, pp. 50-55 ; E. Burton-Brown, 
Recent Excavations in the Roman 
Forum, pp. 30, 152, 154. For 
pictures of these hut-urns see G. Boni 

in Notizie degli Scam, May 1900, p. 
191, fig. 52 ; id., in Nuova Antologia, 
August 1900, p. 22. 

3 Valerius Maximus, iv. 4. 1 1 ; Ovid, 
Fasti, vi. 310; Acron on Horace, 
Odes, i. 31, quoted by G. Boni in 
Notizie degli Scavi, May 1900, p. 179; 
Cicero, Paradoxa, i. 2 ; id, , De natura 
deorurn, iii. 17. 43 ; Persius, Sat. ii. 
59 s <?- J Juvenal, Sat. vi. 342 sqq. 


inexpensive and free from any touch of vulgarity. And I 
have seen libations offered, not in vessels of silver and gold, 
but in little earthen cups and jugs ; and I heartily admired 
a people which thus walked in the ways of their fathers, 
not deviating from the ancient rites into extravagance and 
display." l Specimens of this antique pottery have come to 
light of late years at the house of the Vestals, the temple 
of Vesta, and other religious centres in the Forum ; 2 others 
had been found previously on the Esquiline hill and in the 
necropolis of Alba Longa. 3 We may conjecture that if the 
Romans continued to serve the gods their meals in simple 
earthenware dishes long after they themselves quaffed their 
wine from goblets of crystal and gold or from murrhine cups 
with their cloudy iridescent hues of purple and white, 4 they 
did so, not from any principle of severe good taste, but 
rather from that superstitious fear of innovation which has 
embalmed in religious ritual, as in amber, so many curious 
relics of the past. The old forms and materials of the 
vessels were consecrated by immemorial usage and might 
not be changed with impunity. Indeed, in the ritual of the 
Arval Brothers the holy pots themselves appear to have 
been an object of worship. 6 Specimens of these pots have Rude 
been found on the site of the sacred grove where the P " e 7 

used by 

Brothers performed their quaint service, and they shed an the Arval 
interesting light on the conservatism of the Roman religion. Brotl 
Some of them are moulded in the most primitive fashion by 
the hand without any mechanical appliance. But most of 
them belong to a stage of art, later indeed than this rude 
beginning, yet earlier than the invention of the potter's 
wheel. In order to give the vessels their proper shape 
and prevent the sides from collapsing, wooden hoops were 

1 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. 2 G. Boni in Notizie degli Scavt, 

Rom. ii. 23. On earthenware vessels May 1900, p. 179; E. Burton-Brown, 

used in religious rites see also Pliny, Recent Excavations in the Roman 

Nat. Hist. xxxv. 108, "In sacris Forum, pp. 235^., 41. 
quidem etiam inter has opes hodie non 3 W. Helbig, Die Italiker in der 

murrinis crystallinisve, sed fictilibus Poebene, pp. 82 sqq. 
prolibatur simpulis" ; Apuleius, De * Pliny, Nat. Hist, xxxvii. 21 sq. 

magia, 18, " Eadem paupertas etiam 6 G. Henzen, Ada Fratrum Ar~ 

populo Romano imperium a primordio valium (Berlin, 1874)1 PP- 2 ^> 3 5 H. 

fundavit, proque eo in hodiernum diis Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae selectae, 

immortalibits simpuvio et catino fictili No. 5039 ; J. Marquardt, Romischt 

sacrificat.'' Staatsverwaltung, iii. 2 456. 


inserted in them, and the marks made by these hoops in the 
soft clay may still be seen on the inside of most of the pots 
found in the grove. We may suppose that when the 
potter's wheel came into universal use, the old art of making 
pottery by the hand was lost ; but as religion would have 
nothing to do with pots made in the new-fangled way, the 
pious workman had to imitate the ancient ware as well 
as he could, eking out his imperfect skill with the aid of 
wooden hoops. 1 Perhaps the fictores Vestalium and the 
fictores Pontificum, of whom we read in inscriptions, 2 were 
those potters who, combining a retrograde art with sound 
religious principles, provided the Vestals and Pontiffs with 
the coarse crockery so dear to gods and to antiquaries. 

Savage If that was so, they may have had in the exercise of their 
Tas'to craft to observe some such curious rules as are still 

the making observed in similar circumstances by the savage Yuracares, 
ry ' a tribe of Indians living dispersed in the depths of beauti- 
ful tropical forests, at the eastern foot of the Bolivian 
Andes. We are told by an explorer that " the manufacture 
of pottery is not an everyday affair with this superstitious 
people, and accordingly they surround it with singular pre- 
cautions. The women, who alone are entrusted with the 
duty, go away very solemnly to look for the clay, but 
they do so only when there is no crop to be gathered. In 
the fear of thunder they betake themselves to the most 
sequestered spots of the forest in order not to be seen. 
There they build a hut. While they are at work they 
observe certain ceremonies and never open their mouth, 
speaking to each other by signs, being persuaded that one 
word spoken would infallibly cause all their pots to break 
in the firing ; and they do not go near their husbands, for if 
they did, all the sick people would die." 3 Among the 

1 W. Helbig, Die Italiker in der Lobeck, Aglaopkamus, pp. 1084 sg. ; 
Poebene, p. 87. J. Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwal- 

2 G. Wilmanns, Exempla inscrip- tung, iii. 2 249. They may be right, 
tionuin Latinarum, Nos. 311, 986, but it is to be observed that Varro does 
1326, 1331 ; H. Dessau, Inscription** not expressly refer to the fictores of the 
Latinae selectae, Nos.456, 3314, 4926, Vestals and Pontiffs, and further, that 
4933> 4936, 4942, 4943. Modern in Latin fictor commonly means a 
writers, following Varro (De lingua potter, not a baker, for which the 
Latina, vii. 44, ''fictores dicti a fin- regular word is pistor. 

gendis libis"), explain these fictores as 3 A. d'Orbigny, Voyage dans 

bakers of sacred cakes. See Ch. A. PAmerique* iii. (Paris 


Ba-Ronga of South Africa pottery is made by women only, 
and they prefer to employ a child under puberty to light 
the fire in which the pots are to be baked, because the child 
has pure hands and the pots are therefore less likely to crack 
in the furnace than if the woman lit the fire herself. 1 If 
the reader objects that Roman potters cannot have been 
trammelled by superstitions like those which hamper the 
savage potters of America and Africa, I would remind Chastity 
him of the rules laid down by grave Roman writers for 

the moral guidance of cooks, bakers, and butlers. After who handle 
mentioning a number of these writers by name, Columella food . 
informs us that " all of them are of opinion that he who 
engages in any one of these occupations is bound to be 
chaste and continent, since everything depends on taking 
care that neither the dishes nor the food should be handled 
by any one above the age of puberty, or at least by any 
one who is not exceedingly abstemious in sexual matters. 
Therefore a man or woman who is sexually unclean ought 
to wash in a river or running water before he touches the 
contents of the storeroom. That is why there should be a 
boy or a maid to fetch from the storeroom the things that 
are needed." 2 When Roman cooks, bakers, and butlers 
were expected to be so strict in the service of their human 
masters, it might naturally be thought that the potters 
should be not less so whose business it was to fashion the 
rude yet precious vessels meet for the worship of the gods. 

If the storeroom (J>enus} of a Roman house was deemed Sanctity of 
so holy that its contents could only be handled by persons r0 om r< 
ceremonially clean, the reason was that the Penates or gods (/**) and 
of the storeroom dwelt in it. 3 The domestic hearth, where p en ates in 

the household meals were cooked in the simple days of old, a Roman 


and Strasburg, 1844) p. 194. Much which they erect in clearings of the 

of d'Orbigny's valuable information as forest. See d'Orbigny, op. cit. iii. 

to this tribe was drawn from the manu- 196 sq. 

script of Father Lacueva, a Spanish * H. A. Junod, " Les Conceptions 

Franciscan monk of wealthy family physiologiques des Bantou Sud- 

and saint-like character, who spent Africains et leurs tabous," Revue 

eighteen or twenty years among the d? Ethnologu et de Sociologic, i. (1910) 

Yuracares in a vain attempt to convert p. 147. 

them. With' regard to the crops 2 Columella, De re rustica, xii. 4. 

mentioned in the text, these savages 2 sq. 

plant banana-trees, manioc, sugar-cane, 3 Cicero, De natura deontm, ii. 

and vegetables round about their huts, 27. 68. 


was the natural altar of the Penates ; l their images, together 
with those of the Lares, stood by it and shone in the cheerful 
glow of the fire, when the family gathered round it in the 
evening. 2 Thus in every house Vesta, the goddess of the 
hearth, was intimately bound up with the Penates or gods of 
the storeroom ; indeed, she was reckoned one of them. 3 Now 
the temple of Vesta, being nothing more than a type of the 
oldest form of Roman house, naturally had, like an ordinary 
house, its sacred storeroom, and its Penates or gods of the 
storeroom. 4 Hence if in every common house strict chastity 
was, theoretically at least, expected of all who entered the 
storeroom, we can well understand why such an obligation 
should have been laid on the Vestals, who had in their 
charge the holiest of all storerooms, the chamber in which 
were popularly supposed to be preserved the talismans on 
which the safety of the state depended. 5 

Thus the Thus on the whole we may regard it as highly probable 

Vesta 6 C that the round temple of Vesta in the Forum, with its sacred 
with its storeroom and perpetual fire, was merely a survival, under 
f^amTits changed conditions, of the old house of the Roman kings, 
sacred which again may have been a copy of the still older house of 
was merely the kings of Alba. Both were modelled on the round huts of 
ac py f wattled osiers in which the early Latins dwelt among the 
king's woods and hills of Latium in the days when the Alban 
Mountain was still an active volcano. Hence it is legitimate 
to compare the old legends of the royal hearth with the later 
practice in regard to the hearth of Vesta, and from the com- 
parison to explain, if we can, the meaning both of the 
legends and of the practice. 

1 Servius on Virgil, Aen. xi. 211. Romcr, pp. 145 sq. 

2 Horace, Epodes, ii. 65 sq. ; 4 Festus, s.v. " penus," pp. 250, 
Martial, iii. 58.3 sq, ; L. Preller, 251, ed. C. O. Miiller ; Tacitus, 
Romischc Mythologiep ii. 105 sqq., Annals, xv. 41 ; J. Marquardt, 
1 SS 5 91' See also A. De-Marchi, // Romische Staatsverwaltung, iii. 2 252 
Culto privato diRoma antua, i. (Milan, sq. 

1896) p. 67, with plate iii. 6 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Anti- 

3 Macrobius, Saturn, iii. 4. 1 1 ; quit. Rom. ii. 66 ; Livy, xxvi. 27. 14 ; 
G. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der J. Marquardt, op. cit. iii. 2 250 sq. 



IN historical times, whenever the Vestal fire at Rome 
happened to be extinguished, the virgins were beaten by the 
pontiff ; after which it was their custom, apparently with the 
aid of the pontiff, to rekindle the fire by drilling a hole in a 
board of lucky wood till a flame was elicited by friction. 
The new fire thus obtained was carried into the temple of 
Vesta by one of the virgins in a bronze sieve. 1 As this 
mode of producing fire is one of the most primitive known 
to man, and has been commonly employed by many savage 
tribes down to modern times, 2 we need have no difficulty in 

Mode of 
the Vestal 
fire at 
Rome by 
means of 
the fire- 

Use of the 
fire-drill by 

1 Festus, s.v. " Ignis," p. 106, ed. 
C. O. Miiller : ' ' Ignis Vestae si qitando 
interstinctus essef, virgines verberibus 
afficiebantur a pontifice, quibus mos 
erat tabulam felicis mattriae tamdiu 
terebrare, quousque exceptum ignem 
cribro aeneo virgo in aedem ferret." 
In this passage it is not clear whether 
quibus refers to the virgins alone or to 
the virgins and the pontiff together ; 
but the strict grammatical construction 
is in favour of the latter interpretation. 
The point is not unimportant, as we 
shall see presently. From a passage 
of Plutarch (Numa, 9) it has sometimes 
been inferred that the Vestal fire was 
rekindled by sunlight reflected from a 
burning-glass. But in this passage 
Plutarch is describing a Greek, not a 
Roman, mode of making fire, as has 
been rightly pointed out by Professor 
M. H. Morgan ("De ignis eliciendi 
modis apud antiques," Harvard Studies 
in Classical Philology, i. (1890) pp. 
56 sqq. ). In this memoir Professor 
Morgan has collected and discussed the 
passages of Greek and Latin writers 

which refer to the kindling of fire. 

2 See E. B. Tylor, Early History 
of Mankind? pp. 238 sqq. More 
evidence might easily be given. See, 
for example, J. Dawson, Australian 
Aborigines, pp. 15 sq. ; C. Lumholtz, 
Among Cannibals, p. 191 ; A. W. 
Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East 
Australia, pp. 770-773 ; Maximilian 
Prinz zu Wied-Newied, Reise nach 
Brasilien, ii. 18 sq. ; E. F. im Thurn, 
Among the Indians of Guiana, pp. 257- 
259 ; K. von den Steinen, Unter den 
Naturudlkem Zentral-Brasiliens, pp. 
223 sqq. ; H. Ling Roth, The Natives of 
Sarawak and British North Borneo, i. 
375 s ?9- 5 A. Maass, Bei liebens-wurdi- 
gen Wilden, ein Beitrag ztir Kenntniss 
der Mentawai-Insulaner (Berlin, 1 902), 
pp. 114, 116; Mgr. Le Roy, " Les 
Pygmies," Missions Catholiques, xxix. 
(1897), p. 137; E. Thurston, Ethno- 
graphic Notes in Southern India 
(Madras, 1906), pp. 464-470 ; W. A. 
Reed, Negritos of Zambalcs (Manila. 
1904), p. 40. 



believing that its use in the worship of Vesta was a survival 
from prehistoric ages, and that whenever the fire on the 
hearth of the Latin kings went out it was regularly relit in 
The fire- the same fashion. In its simplest form the fire-drill, as the 
apparatus has been appropriately named by Professor E. B. 
Tylor, consists of two sticks, the one furnished with a point and 
the other with a hole. The point of the one stick is inserted 
into the hole of the other, which is laid flat on the ground, 
while the operator holds the pointed stick upright in position 
and twirls it rapidly between his hands till the rubbing of 
the two sticks against each other produces sparks and at 
last a flame. 

Many Many savages see in this operation a resemblance to the 

savages union of the sexes, and have accordingly named the pointed 
two sticks stick the man and the holed stick the woman. Thus we are 

of the fire- ^j^ t hat amO ng the Thompson Indians of British Columbia 
male and " fire was obtained by means of the fire-drill, which consisted 
female and Q f ^ wo dried sticks, each over a foot in length, and rounded 

the rubbing 

of the two off to less than an inch in diameter. One stick was sharpened 
'sexual aS at one enc ^ ' w hil e th e other was marked with a couple of 

union. notches close to each other one on the side, and the other 
on top. The sharpened end of the first stick was placed in 
the top notch of the other stick, and turned rapidly between 
the straightened palms of both hands. The heat thus pro- 
duced by the friction of the sticks caused sparks to fall 
down the side notch upon tinder placed underneath, which, 
when it commenced to smoke, was taken in the hands, and 
blown upon until fanned into a flame. The tinder was dry 
grass, the shredded dry bark of the sagebrush, or cedar-bark. 
The sharpened stick was called the ' man,' and was made of 
black-pine root, tops of young yellow pine, heart of yellow- 
pine cones, service-berry wood, etc. The notched stick was 
called the 'woman/ and was generally made of poplar-root. 
However, many kinds of wood were used for this purpose. 
When hot ashes or a spark fell upon the tinder, they said, 
' The woman has given birth.' " l The Hopi Indians kindle 
fire ceremonially by the friction of two sticks, which are 

1 J. Teit, " The Thompson Indians Natural History, The Jesup North 
of British Columbia," pp. 203, 205 Pacific Expedition, vol. i. part 4). 
{Memoir of the American Museum of 

xv 7'HE FIRE-DRILL 209 

regarded respectively as male and female. The female stick 
has a notch in it and is laid flat on the floor ; the point of 
the male stick is inserted in the notch of the female stick 
and is made to revolve rapidly by twirling the stick between 
the hands. Pollen is added as a male symbol, and the 
spark is caught in a tinder of shredded cedar bark. 1 The 
Urabunna tribe of Central Australia, who also make fire by 
means of the fire-drill, call the upright piece " the child- 
stick," while they give to the horizontal or notched piece the 
name of " the mother-stick " or " the mother of the fire." 2 
So in the Murray Islands, Torres Straits, the upright stick 
is called the child (werem\ and the horizontal stick the 
mother (a/#). In Mabuiag, Torres Straits, on the other 
hand, the vertical stick is known as the male organ (*'/), 
and the horizontal stick as the hole (sakaf)* 

" The ancient Bedouins kindled fire by means of the The fire- 
fire-drill, which was composed of a horizontal stick, the 
zenda, and an upright stick, the zend. The science of 
language furnishes us with many parallels for this mode of 
regarding the two parts as male and female ; the two parts 
of the lock are distinguished in like manner ; the spark is 
then the child, tifl\ compare also our German Schrauben- 
mutter, Muttergewinde. The sticks for making fire by 
friction are not taken from the same tree ; on the contrary, 
they choose one as hard and tough as possible, and the 
other soft, which allows the hard one to fit into it more 
easily and catches fire the quicker on account of its loose 
texture. The soft wood was naturally the horizontal stick, 
the zenda, which the Arabs made out of Calotropis procera 
('os/tar), while for the upright stick they used a hard branch 
of markh." 4 

1 J. Walter Fewkes, "The Lesser account of the subject: "sand, a 
New-fire Ceremony at Walpi," Ameri- piece of stick or wood, for producing 
can Anthropologist, N.S. iii. (1901) fire; the upper one of the two pieces 
p. 445- of stick, or wood, with which fire is 

2 Spencer and Gillen, Northern produced : . . . and zanda is the ap- 
7'ribes of Central Australia, p. 621. pellation of the lower one thereof, in 

3 For this information I am in- which is the notch or hollow, or in 
debted to Mr. S. H. Ray. which is a hole. . . . One end of the 

4 G. Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinen- sand is put into the/ard (notch) of the 
eben 2 (Berlin, 1897), p. 91. In his zanda, and the zand is then rapidly 

Arabic-English Lexicon, book i. p. twirled round in producing fire. . . . 
1257, E. W. Lane gives the following The best kind of zand is made of 'afar 


The The Ngumbu of South Cameroons, in West Africa, 

formerly made fire by rubbing two sticks against each other. 
Of the sticks the one, called the male nschio, was put into 
a hole of the other, which was called the female nschto. 1 
In East Africa the Masai men make fire by drilling a hole 
in a flat piece of wood with a hard pointed stick. They say 
that the hard pointed stick is a man and that the flat piece 
of wood is his wife. The former is cut from Ficus syco- 
morus and Ekebergia sp. y the latter from any fibrous tree, such 
as Kigelia africana, Cordia ovalis, or Acacia albida. The 
women get their fire from the one which has thus been 
kindled by the men. 2 The Nandi similarly produce fire by 
rapidly drilling a hard pointed stick into a small hole in a 
flat piece of soft wood. The hard stick is called the male 
(kirkif} and the piece of soft wood the female (kdket}. 
Among the Nandi, as apparently among the Masai, fire- 
making is an exclusive privilege of the men of the tribe. 3 
The Baganda of Central Africa also made fire by means of 
the fire-drill ; they called the upright stick the male, and the 
horizontal stick the female. 4 Among the Bantu tribes of 
south-eastern Africa, " when the native Africans use special fire, 
either in connection with sacrifice or the festival of first-fruits, 
it is produced by a doctor, and in the following manner : 
Two sticks, made of the Uzivati tree, and called the ' husband 
and wife,' are given to him by the chief. These sticks are 
prepared by the magicians, and are the exclusive property 
of the chief, the ' wife ' being the shorter of the two. The 
doctor cuts a piece off each stick, and proceeds to kindle 
fire in the usual manner, by revolving the one rapidly 
between the palms of his hands, while its end rests in a 
small hollow dug in the side of the other. After he has 

and the best kind of zanda of markh." Lane is right. 

It will be observed that the two i L Concradt, "Die Ngumbu in 

writers differ as to markh wood, Jacob Siidkamerun," Globus, Ixxxi. (1902) 

saying that it is used to make the p ~*. 

upright (male) stick, and Lane that it ., . TT ... ,, ., .,/-.,-, 

/ ', . i /r i \ - A. C. Holhs, The Masai (Oxford, 

is used to make the horizontal (female) . 

stick. My learned friend Professor A. )O5)) P> 342- 

A. Bevan, who directed my attention 3 A - C - Hollis, The Nandi (Oxford, 

to both passages and transliterated for I 99)> P- 85. 

me the Arabic words in Lane, has 4 Letter of the Rev. J. Roscoe, 

kindly consulted the original authori- dated Mengo, Uganda, 3rd August 

ties on this point and informs me that 1904. 


obtained fire, he gives it to his attendant, who gets the pots 
in order, and everything ready for cooking the newly-reaped 
fruits. The sticks are handed back to the chief by the 
doctor no other hand must touch them and put away till 
they are required next season. They are regarded as in a 
measure sacred, and no one, except the chief's personal 
servant, may go to the side of the hut where they are kept. 
After being repeatedly used for fire-making, the doctor dis- 
poses of what remains, and new ones are made and conse- 
crated by the magician. A special pot is used for the 
preparation of the feast, and no other than it may be set on 
a fire produced from the ' husband and wife.' When the 
feast is over, the fire is carefully extinguished, and the pot 
placed along with the sticks, where it remains untouched for 
another year." l But even for the purposes of daily life 
these tribes still kindle fire in this manner, if they happen to be 
without matches. " A native takes two special sticks, made of 
a light wood. One of these he points : this is called the 
male stick. He then makes a conical hole in the centre of 
the other stick, which is called the female. Placing the 
female stick on the ground, he holds it firmly by his feet 
a native finds no difficulty in this, as he can easily pick 
things off the ground with his toes if his hands are full. He 
then places the pointed stick into the conical hole, and 
slowly twirls the male stick between his hands. He does 
this while using a good deal of pressure, and the wood 
becomes powdered, lying round the revolving point in a 
little heap of dust. When he thinks he has made sufficient 
of the wood dust, he twirls the stick very fast, and in a 
moment the powder bursts into flame, which he uses to set 
fire to some dried grass." 2 

The Damaras or Herero of Damaraland, in south- Fire 
western Africa, maintain sacred fires in their villages, and 
their customs and beliefs in this respect present a close 
resemblance to the Roman worship of Vesta. Fortunately 
the Herero fire-worship has been described by a number 
of independent witnesses, and as their accounts agree sub- 
stantially with each other, we may assume that they are 

1 J. Macdonald, Light in Africa 2 2 Dudley Kidd, The Essential Kafir 

(London, 1890), pp. 216 sq. (London, 1904), pp. 51 s$. 


The correct. The people are a tall, finely-built race of nomadic 

theHerero ner dsmen belonging to the Bantu stock, who seem to 

have migrated into their present country from the north 

and east about a hundred and fifty or two hundred 

years ago. The desert character of the country and its 

seclusion Irom the outer world long combined to preserve 

TheHerero the primitive manners of the inhabitants. 1 In their native 

people** 1 state tne Herero are a purely pastoral people, possessing 

immense herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats, 

which are the pride and joy of their hearts, almost their 

idols. They subsist chiefly on the milk of their herds, 

which they commonly drink sour. Of the flesh they make 

but little use, for they seldom kill any of their cattle, 

and never a cow, a calf, or a lamb. Even oxen and 

weathers are only slaughtered on solemn and festal occasions, 

such as visits, burials, and the like. Such slaughter is a 

great event in a village, and young and old flock from far 

Huts and and near to partake of the meat. 2 Their huts are of a round 

theHereo beehive shape, about ten feet in diameter. The framework 

consists of stout branches, of which the lower ends are 

rammed into the ground, while the upper ends are bent 

together and tied with bark. A village is composed of a 

number of these round huts arranged in a circle about the 

calves' pen as a centre and surrounded by an artificial hedge 

of thorn-bushes. 8 At night the cattle are driven in through 

1 J. Irle, Die Herero (Gutersloh, fur Orientalisctie Sprachen zu Berlin, 

1906), pp. 49 sqq., 53 sqq. Compare iii. (1900) Dritte Abtheilung, p. 72. 

Josaphat Hahn, " Die Ovaherero," 2 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami 

Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fiir Erd- (London, 1856), p. 230 ; J. Chapman, 

kunde zu Berlin, iv. (1869) pp. 227 Travels in the Interior of South Africa 

sqq. ; H. Schinz, Deutsch-Sudwest- (London, 1868), i. 325 ; J. Hahn, 

Afrika (Oldenburg and Leipsic, N.D. ), "Die Ovaherero," Zeitschrift der 

pp. 142 sq. ; E. Dannert, Zum Rechte Gesellschaft fiir Erdkunde zu Berlin, 

der Herero (Berlin, 1906), pp. I sqq. iv. (1869) pp. 244-247, 250; C. J. 

The people call themselves Ovaherero Biittner Das Hinterland von Walfisch- 

(plural) ; the singular form is Onni- bai und Angra Pequena (Heidelberg, 

herero. The name Damaras was given 1884), pp. 228^. ; H. Schinz, Deutsch- 

them by the English and Dutch. Siidwest- Afrika, pp. 158-161 ; J. Irle, 

Under the influence of the missionaries Die Herero, pp. 32 sqq., 113. 

most of the heathen customs described 3 Francis Gallon, Narrative of an 

in the text seem now to have dis- Explorer in Tropical South Africa 3 

appeared. See P. H. Brincker, (London, 1890), p. 116; J. Hahn, op. 

"Character, Sitten, und Gebrauche, cit. iv. (1869) p. 247; H. Schinz, op. 

speciell der Bantu Deutsch-Sudwest- cit. p. 155 ; J. Irle, Die Herero, pp. 

afrikas," Mittheilungen des Seminars III sq. 


the hedge and take up their quarters in the open space 
round the calves' pen. 1 

The hut of the great or principal wife of the chief, built Sacred fire 
and furnished in a more elaborate style than the rest, 

regularly stands to the east of the calves' pen, in the direction village 

f .. f ., ... i , maintained 

of sunrise, so that from its position we can always learn in or 
approximately the season of the year when the village was before the 
founded. The chief or headman of the village has no special chiefs 

hut of his own ; he passes the day in the hut of the great 
wife, and the night commonly in one of the huts of his other 
wives in the northern semicircle. Between the house of the 
great wife and the calves' pen, but somewhat nearer to the 
pen, is a large heap of ashes on which, in good weather, a 
small, faintly glimmering fire may be seen to burn at any time 
of the day. The heap of ashes is the sacred hearth (okuruo} ; 
the fire is the holy fire (omurangere or omurangerero] of the 
village. The open space between the sacred hearth and the 
house of the great wife is known as the holy ground or the 
holy house (otyizero}? Betwixt the hearth and the calves' 
fold stands a great withered branch of the omumborombonga 
(Combretum primigenum}, the sacred tree of the Herero, 
from which they believe that both they and their cattle 

1 H. Schinz, op. cit, p. 159. Viehe calls the holy house is the open 

space between the sacred hearth and 

8 H. Schinz, op. cit. pp. 155-157 ; the house of the great wife or chief. 

compare J. Hahn, op. cit. iv. (1869) That space is described as the holy 

P- 499 > J- I f l e Die Herero, p. 78 ; ground by Dr. Schinz, who uses that 

E. Dannert, Zum Rechte der Hesero, phrase (" der geweihte Boden") as the 

pp. 4 sq. At first sight Dr. Schinz's equivalent of the native otyizero. 

account appears to differ slightly from Thus the two writers are in substantial 

that given by the Rev. G. Viehe, who agreement with each other. On the 

says : "In the werfts of the Ovaherero, other hand Dr. C. H. Hahn gives the 

the houses of the chief are on the name of otyizero or sacred house to 

eastern side. Next to these, towards "the chief house of the chief, in front 

the west, follow, one after another, of which is the place of the holy fire." 

the holy house (otyizero'], the place of He adds that " the chief has several 

the holy fire (okuruo], and the kraal houses, according to the number of 

[i.e. the calves' pen] (otyunda) ; thus wives, each wife having her own hut " 

the otyizero is on the east, and the (South African Folk-lore Journal, ii. 

otyunda on the west side of the okuruo " (1880) p. 62, note t). The name 

(" Some Customs of the Ovaherero," otyizero seems to be derived from zero, 

South African Folk-lore Journal, i. "sacred," "taboo." See G. Viehe, op. 

(1879) p. 62). But it seems clear cit. pp. 39, 41,43; Rev. E. Dannert, 

that by the chiefs house Mr. Viehe in (South African) Folk-lore Journal, 

means what Dr. Schinz calls the house ii. (1880) pp. 63, 65, 105, and the 

of the great wife ; and that what Mr. editor's note, ib. p. 93. 


The sacred are descended. When a branch of this tree cannot be 
fire and obtained its place is taken by a bough of the omtvapu 

hearth . , ... 

among the tree (Grevia spec.). At night and in rainy weather the 
Herero. fl re j s transferred to the hut of the great wife, where it is 
carefully kept alight. 2 According to another account, the 
fire is regularly preserved in the house, and a brand is 
only brought out into the open air when the cattle are 
being milked at morning and evening in order that in presence 
of the fire the cow may be healthy and give much milk. 3 
The custom in this respect perhaps varies in different 
villages, and may be determined in some measure by the 
climate. The sacred fire is regarded as the centre of the 
village ; from it at evening the people fetch a light to kindle 
the fire on their own hearths, for every householder has his 
own private hearth in front of his hut. At the holy hearth 
are kept the most sacred possessions of the tribe, to wit, the 
bundle of sticks which represent their ancestors ; here 
sacrifices are offered and enchantments performed ; here 
the flesh of the victims is cooked ; here is the proper place 
of the chief; here the elders assemble in council, and judg- 
ment is given ; here strangers are received and ambassadors 
entertained. At the banquets held on solemn occasions all 
may partake of the flesh, whether they be friends or foes ; 
the stranger's curse would rest on the churl who should 
refuse him his just share ; and this curse the Herero dreads 
above everything because he believes its effect to be 
infallible. So great is the veneration felt by the natives for 
the sacred hearth, with its hallowed bough, that they dare 
not approach it without testifying the deepest respect. 
They take off their sandals, throw themselves on the ground, 
and pray their great ancestor (Tate Mukuru} to be gracious 
to them. The horns of the oxen slaughtered at festivals lie 
beside the hearth ; the chief sits on the largest pair when he 
is engaged in performing his magical rites. Near the fire, too, 
is a stone on which none but the chief has the right to sit. 4 

1 H. Schinz, op. at. p. 155. id. " Pyrolatrie in Siidafrika," Globus, 

2 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, p. Ixvii. (January 1895) P- 975 Meyer, 
223; J. Hahn, op. cit. iv. (1869) p. quoted by J. Kohler, "Das Recht der 
500; H. Schinz, op. cit. p. 165. Herero," Zeitschrift fur vergleichende 

3 H. Brincker, Worterbuch und Rechtrivissenschaft, xiv. (1900) p. 315. 
kurzgefasste Grammatik des Otji- * J. Hahn, op. cit. iv. (1869) pp. 
herero (Leipsic, 1886),^. " okuruo" ; 499 sq.; Rev. H. Beiderbecke, in 


The duty of maintaining the sacred fire and preserving The sacred 
it from extinction is entrusted to the eldest unmarried j ^er"f 
daughter of the chief by his great wife ; if he has no is watched 
daughter, the task devolves on the unmarried girl who is ^eVhiefsf 
next of kin to him. She bears the title of ondangere, derived eldes f ur >- 
from the name of the sacred fire (pmurangere)} Besides dTughter, 
keeping up the fire she has other priestly functions to who 

> i T-. / i' performs 

discharge. Before the men start on a dangerous expedition, ot her 
she rubs the holy ashes on their foreheads. 2 When a P riestl y 


woman brings her new-born infant to the sacred hearth 
to receive its name, the maiden priestess or Vestal, as we 
may call her, sprinkles water on both mother and child. 3 
Every morning, when the cattle walk out of the fold, she 
besprinkles the fattest of them with a brush dipped in water. 4 
When an ox dies by accident at the village, she lays a piece 
of wood on its back, praying at the same time for long life, 
plenty of cattle, and so forth. Moreover, she ties a double 
knot in her apron for the dead beast, for a curse would 
follow if she neglected to do so. 5 Lastly, when the site of 
the village is changed, the priestess walks at the head of the 
people and of the herds, carrying a firebrand from the old 
sacred hearth and taking the utmost care to keep it alight. 6 
The chief or headman of the village is also the priest ; 
he alone may perform religious ceremonies except such as 

(South African) Folk-lore Journal, ii. to Meyer (I.e.) and E. Dannert (Zum 

(1880) p. 84 ; C. G. Buttner, " Ueber Rechte der Herero, p. 5), if the chief's 

Handwerkeund technischeFertigkeiten eldest daughter marries, the duty of 

der Eingeborenen in Damaraland," tending the fire passes to his eldest wife. 

Ausland, 7th July 1884, p. 522 ; This statement is at variance with all 

P. H. Brincker, in Mittheilungen des the other testimony on the subject, and 

Seminars fur Orientalische Sprachen for reasons which will appear presently 

zu Berlin, iii. (1900) Dritte Abtheil- I regard it as improbable. At least 

ung, p. 75 ; id., Worterbuch des Otji- it can hardly represent the original 

herero, s.v. " okuruo" ; id. " Pyrola- custom. 

trie in Siidafrika," Globus, Ixvii. (Janu- 2 Rev. H. Beiderbecke, in (South 

ary 1895) p. 97; H. Schinz, op. cit. African} Folk-lore Journal, ii. (1880) 

p. 183 ; Meyer, I.e. p. 84. 

1 C. J. Andersson, of 1 , cit. p. 223 ; 3 Rev. E. Dannert, in (South 

J. Hahn, op. cit. iv. (1869) p. 500; African) Folk-lore Journal, ii. (1880) 

Rev. E. Dannert, in (South African) p. 66; H. Schinz, op. cit. p. 168. 
Folk-lore Journal, ii. (1880) p. 66 ; 4 Francis Gallon, op. cit. p. 115. 

Rev. H. Beiderbecke, ibid. p. 83, 5 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, 

note 4; C. G. Biittner, I.e.; H. p. 223. 

Schinz, op. cit. p. 165; J. Irle, Die 6 C. J. Andersson, I.e.; J. Hahn, 

Herero, pp. 78 sq. ; E. Dannert, Zum op. cit. iv. (1869) p. 500; H. Schinz, 

Rechte der Herero, p. 5. According op. cit. p. 167. 


The Herero fall within the province of the Vestal priestess, his daughter, 
f priest 1 his ca P ac ity f priest he keeps the sacred bundle of 
sticks which represent the ancestors, and at sacrifices he 
offers meat to them that they may consecrate it. When the 
old village is abandoned, it is his duty to carry, like Aeneas 
quitting the ruins of Troy, 1 these rude penates to the new 
home. However, it is deemed enough if he merely places the 
holy bundle on his back, and then hands it to a servant, who 
carries it for him. As a priest he introduces the newborn 
children to the spirits of the ancestors at the sacred hearth, 
and gives the infants their names ; and as a priest he has 
a cow to himself, whose milk no one else may drink. This 
milk is kept in vessels which differ from the ordinary milk 
vessels, not only in shape and size, but also in being marked 
Fire taken with the badge of his paternal clan. When a man goes 
chiefs* 16 forth from the village with his family and servants to herd 
hearth by the cattle on a distant pasture, or to found another village, 
ofl new Cr he takes with him a burning brand from the sacred hearth 
village. wherewith to kindle the holy fire in his new home. By 
doing so he acknowledges himself the vassal of the chief 
from whose hearth he took the fire. In this way a single 
village may give out swarm after swarm, till it has become 
the metropolis or capital of a whole group of villages, the 
inhabitants of which recognise the supremacy of the parent 
community, and regard themselves as all sitting round its 
sacred fire. It is thus that a village may grow into a tribe 
and its headman into a powerful chief, who, by means of 
marriage alliances and the adhesion of weaker rivals, may 
extend his sway over alien communities, and so gradually 
acquire the rank and authority of a king. 2 The political 
evolution of the Herero has indeed stopped short of this 
final stage ; but among the more advanced branches of the 
Bantu race, such as the Zulus and the Matabeles, it is 
possible that the kingship has developed along these lines. 

1 Virgil, Aen. ii. 717 sqq., 747. 166, 167, 186 ; Meyer, quoted by 

J. Kohler, op. tit. p. 315 ; P. H. 

2 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, p. Brincker, in Mittheilungen des Se- 
224; Rev. G. Viehe, in (South African) minars fur Orientalische Sprachen zu 
Folk-lorejournal, i. (1879) P- 43 '> R CV - Berlin, iii. (1900) Dritte Abtheilung, 
E. Dannert, in (South African) Folk- pp. 75 sq. ; J. Irle, Die Herero, p. 80; 
lore Journal, ii. (1880) p. 67; C. G. E. Dannert, Zum Rechte der Herero 
Biittner, I.e. ; H. Schinz, op. cit. pp. (Berlin, 1906), p. 5. 


The possession of the sacred fire and of the ancestral Tne com- 
sticks, carrying with it both political authority and priestly 

dignity, descends in the male line, and hence generally passes and P riest 
from father to son. In any case, whether the deceased had Herero 
a son or not, the double office of chief and priest must descends m 

the male 

always remain in his paternal clan (pruzd]. If it should line. 
happen that the clan becomes extinct by his death, the A chiefs 
sacred fire is put out, the hearth destroyed, no brand is taken hearth 
from it, and the sticks representing the ancestors are laid abandoned 
with the dead man in the grave. But should there be an t?meaTter 
heir, as usually happens, he takes a fire-brand from the his death - 
sacred hearth and departs with all the people to seek a new 
home, abandoning the old village for years. In time, how- 
ever, they return to the spot, rebuild the huts on the same 
sites, and inhabit them again. But in the interval none of 
the kinsmen of the deceased may approach the deserted 
village under pain of incurring the wrath of the ghost. 
When the return at last takes place, and the people have 
announced their arrival to the dead chief at his grave, which 
is generally in the cattle-pen, they make a new fire by the 
friction of the two sacred fire-sticks on the old hearth ; ior 
it is not lawful to bring with them a brand from their last 
settlement. 1 

If the sacred fire should go out through the neglect of The sacred 
the priestess, a sudden shower of rain, or any other accident, rekindled 1 * 
the Herero deem it a very evil omen. The whole tribe is by the 
immediately summoned and large offerings of cattle are made 
as an expiation. Then the fire is relit by means of the 
friction of two sacred fire-sticks, which have been handed 
down from father to son. Every chief possesses such fire- 
sticks, and keeps them tied up with the bundle of holy 
sticks that represent the ancestors. One of the fire-sticks is 
pointed, the other has a hole in the middle, and sometimes 
also a notch cut round it. In the notch some fungus or 
rotten wood is placed as tinder. The holed stick is held 

1 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, pp. singular) and maternal clans (omaanda, 

228 sq. ; Rev. G. Viehe, op. cit. i. plural ; eanda, singular). Every person 

(1879) pp. 6 1 sq. ; C. G. Buttner, I.e. ; inherits an oruzo from his father 

H. Schinz, op. cit. pp. 165, 180. The and an eanda from his mother. See 

Herero have a curious twofold system my Tolemism and Exogamy, ii. 357 

of paternal clans (otuso, plural ; oruzo, sqq. 




fast on the ground by the knees of the operator, who inserts 

the point of the other stick in the hole and twirls it rapidly 

between the palms of his hands in the usual way. As soon 

as a spark is emitted it catches the tinder, which can then 

easily be blown up into a flame. Thus it is from the tinder, 

we are told, and not from the sticks, that the flame is 

elicited. In this fashion, if everything is very dry, as it 

generally is in Hereroland, the native gets fire in about a 

minute. The names applied to the two sticks indicate that 

the pointed stick (ondume) is regarded as male and the 

holed stick (ptyiyd) as female, and that the process of 

making fire by the friction of the two is compared to the 

intercourse of the sexes. As to the wood of which the fire- 

The male sticks are made accounts differ. According to Dr. H. 

nade'of Schinz the holed or female stick is of a soft wood, the 

the sacred pointed or male stick of a hard wood, generally of the 

borombonxa sacred omumborombonga tree (Combrctum primigenum}. 

tree. According to Mr. C. G. Biittner, neither of the sticks need 

be of a special tree, and any wood that happens to be at 

hand may be employed for the purpose ; only the wood of 

the thorny acacias, which abound in the country, appears to 

be unsuitable. 1 Probably the rule mentioned by Dr. Schinz 

is the original one, and if in some places the wood of the 

1 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, pp. 
223 sq. ; J. Harm, op. cit. iv. (1869) 
p. 500 ; Rev. G. Viehe, op. cit. i. 
(1879) pp. 39, 6 1 ; C. G. Buttner, 
I.e. ; H. Brincker, IVorterbuch des 
Otji-herero, s.vv. ondume and otjija ; 
id. " Character, Sitten, und Gebrauche, 
speciell der Bantu Deutsch-Siidwest- 
afrikas," Mittheilungen des Seminars 
fiir Orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin, 
iii. (1900) Dritte Abtheilung, p. 75 ; id. 
" Pyrolatrie in Sudafrika," Globus, Ixvii. 
(January, 1895) P- 9^; H. Schinz, op. 
cit. pp. 165 sq. ; J. Kohler, op. cit. pp. 
305, 315; J. Irle.Zte Herero, pp. 79 sq. 
According to Dr. Schinz, the meaning 
of the names applied to the fire-sticks 
has been much disputed ; he himself 
adopts the view given in the text, and 
supports it by weighty reason which, 
taken along with analogous designa- 
tions in many other parts of the world, 
may be regarded as conclusive. He 
tells us that otyiza means pudendum 

muliebre, and this is actually the name 
of the holed stick according to Mr. 
Viehe (, though Dr. Schinz gives 
otyia as the name. I have followed 
Dr. Brincker in accepting otyiya 
(otjija) as the correct form of the word. 
Further, Dr. Schinz derives ondume, 
the name of the pointed stick, from 
a verb ruma, meaning " to have 
intercourse with a woman." More- 
over, he reports that the Ai San 
Bushmen, near Noihas, in the Kala- 
hari desert, call the vertical fire-stick 
tau doro and the horizontal fire-stick 
gai doro, where tau is the masculine 
prefix and gai the feminine. Finally, 
a Herero explained to him the signifi- 
cance of the names by referring in an 
unmistakable manner to the correspond- 
ing relations in the animal kingdom. 
That the two sticks are regarded as 
male and female is positively affirmed 
by Mr. Viehe, Mr. Meyer (quoted by 
J. Kohler), and Dr. Brincker. 


sacred tree has ceased to be used to light the holy fire, the 
reason may be simply that the tree does not grow there, 
and that accordingly the people are obliged to use such 
wood as they can find. We have seen that a branch of the 
sacred omumborombonga tree is regularly planted beside the 
village hearth, but that in default of it the people have to 
put up with a bough of another kind of tree, the omuwapu 
(Grevia spec]} Such substitutions were especially apt to be 
forced on the Herero in the southern part of the country, 
where the omumborombonga tree is very rare and forests do 
not exist, the larger trees growing singly or in clumps. In 
the north, on the other hand, vegetation is much richer, and 
regular woods are to be found. Here, in particular, the 
omumborombonga tree is one of the ornaments of the land- 
scape. It grows only beside water-courses, and generally 
stands solitary, surpassing a tall oak in height, and rivalling 
it in girth ; indeed, so thick is the trunk that were it 
hollowed out a family could lodge in it. Unlike most trees 
in the country it is thornless. Whole forests of it grow to 
the eastward of Hereroland, in the direction of Lake Ngami. 
So close is the grain and so heavy the wood that some of 
the early explorers gave it the name of the " iron tree." 2 
Hence it is well adapted to form the upright stick of the 
fire-drill, for which a hard wood is required. 

The Herero have a tradition that in the beginning they Herero 
and their cattle and all four-footed beasts came forth from SJfJ 
the omumborombonga tree in a single day, whereas birds, of men 
fish, and creeping things sprang from the rain. However, fr 
slightly different versions of the Herero genesis appear to be sacred 
current. As to the origin of men and cattle from the tree, \ r 0m bon 
public opinion is unanimous ; but some dissenters hold that tree - 
sheep and perhaps goats, but certainly sheep, issued from a 
flat rock in the north of the country. For some time past, 
unfortunately, the tree has ceased to be prolific ; it is of no 

1 See above, pp. 213 sq. Mr. G. 2 J. Hahn, " Das Land der Herero," 

Viehe says that the omuwapu tree Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fur Erd- 

" acts a very important part in almost kunde zu Berlin, iii. (1868) pp. 200, 

all the religious ceremonies" of the 213, 214 sq. ; C. J. Andersson, 

Herero (op. cit. i. 45). Probably it is Lake Ngami, pp. 218, 221 ; id., The 

only used where the omumborombonga Okavango River (London, 1861), pp. 

cannot be had. 21 sq. ; H. Schinz, op. cit. p. 182. 


use waiting beside it in the hope of capturing such oxen 
and sheep as it might bear. Yet still the Herero testify 
great respect for the tree which they regard as their ancestor 
(pmukurii). To injure it is deemed a sacrilege which the 
ancestor will punish sooner or later. In passing it they 
bow reverently and stick a bunch of green twigs or grass 
into the trunk or throw it down at the foot. They address 
the tree, saying, " U-zera tate mukururume, Thou art holy, 
grandfather ! " and they even enter into conversation with 
it, giving the answers themselves in a changed voice. They 
hardly dare to sit down in its shadow. All this reverence 
they display for every tree of the species. 1 

Migration On the whole, then, we may infer that so long as the 

from one j-Jerero dwelt in a land where their ancestral tree abounded, 

country to 

another they made the male fire-stick from its wood ; but that as 
* they gradually migrated from a region of tropical rains and 

change of luxuriant forests to the arid mountains, open grass lands, 
ree ' and dry torrid climate of their present country, 2 they had in 
some places to forgo its use and to take another tree in its 
stead. Similarly the Aryan invaders of Greece and Italy 
were obliged, under a southern sky, to seek substitutes for 
the sacred oak of their old northern home ; and more and 
more, as time went on and the deciduous woods retreated 
up the mountain slopes, they found what they sought in the 
laurel, the olive, and the vine. Zeus himself had to put up 
with the white poplar at his great sanctuary of Olympia in 
the hot lowlands of Elis ; 3 and on summer days, when the 
light leaves of the poplar hardly stirred in the languid air 
and the buzz of the flies was more than usually exasperating, 

1 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, p. tion see J. Chapman, Travels in the 

221 ; Francis Gallon, op. cit. p. 115; Interior of South Africa, i. 325-327; 
J. Hahn, op. cit. iii. (1868) p. 215, J. Hahn, op. cit. iii. (1868) pp. 227 
iv. (1869) p. 498, note; Rev. H. sqq. As to the physical features and 
Beiderbecke, in (South African) Folk- climate of Hereroland, see J. Hahn, 
lorejoumal, ii. (1880) pp. 92 sq. ; H. "Das Land der Ovaherero," Zeit- 
Schinz, op. cit. pp. 182 sq. ; Meyer, schrift der Gesellschaft fur Erdkunde 
quoted by J. Kohler, op. cit. p. 297; zu Berlin, iii. (1868) pp. 193 sqq. ; 
P. H. Brincker, in Mittheilungen des J. Irle, Die Herero, pp. 9 sqq., 
Seminars fur Qrientalische Sprachen 19 sqq. 

zu Berlin (1900), Dritte Abtheilung, 

p. 73 ; J. Irle, Die Herero, pp. 75 sq. , 3 Pausanias, v. 13. 3, v. 14. 2. On 

77 ; E. Dannert, Zum Rechte der the substitution of the poplar for the 

Herero, pp. 3 sq. oak, see Mr. A. B. Cook in Folk-lore, 

2 On the evidence for this migra- xv. (1904) pp. 297 sq. 


he perhaps looked wistfully away to the Arcadian mountains, 
looming blue in the distance through a haze of heat, and 
sighed for the shadow and the coolness of their oak 

Thus it appears that the sanctity ascribed by the Herero The 
to the chiefs fire springs from a custom of kindling it with 
the wood of their ancestral tree ; in fact, the cult of the fire fire a form 
resolves itself into a form of ancestor-worship. For the 
religion of the Herero, like that of all Bantu peoples, is first 
and foremost a propitiation of the spirits of their forefathers 
conceived as powerful beings able and willing to harm them. 
From youth to death the Herero live in constant dread of 
their ancestors (ovakuru, plural of omukuru\ who, sometimes 
seen and sometimes unseen, return to earth and play their 
descendants many a spiteful trick. They glide into the 
village, steal the milk, drive the cattle from the fold, and 
waylay women. More than that, they can inflict disease 
and death, decide the issue of war, and send or withhold 
rain at pleasure. They are the cause of every vexation and 
misfortune, and the whole aim of the living is by frequent 
sacrifices to mollify and appease the dead. 1 

Now the sacred hearth seems to be in a special sense The sacred 
the seat of the worship paid to the ancestral spirits. Here 
the head of the family sits and communes with his fore- of the 
father, giving himself the answers he thinks fit. 2 Hither the 
newborn child is brought with its mother to be introduced 
to the spirits and to receive its name, and the chief, addressing 
his ancestors, announces, " To you a child is born in your 
village ; may this village never come to an end ! " 3 Hither 
the bride is conducted at her marriage, and a sheep having 
been sacrificed, its flesh is placed on the holy bushes at the 

1 Rev. G. Viehe, "Some Customs comes an omuknru after his death. 

of the Ovaherero," (South African) Or rather, perhaps, though all dead 

Folk-lore Journal, i. (1879) pp. 64- men become ovakuru, only the strong 

66 ; Rev. H. Beiderbecke, in (South and brave are feared and worshipped. 

African] Folk-lore fournal, ii. (1880) 2 TT c , . 

A c ,.-<., 2 H. Schmz, op. ctf. p. 183. 

p. 91 ; H. Schmz, op. cit. pp. 183 sq. ; 

P. H. Brincker, in Mittheilnngen des 3 Rev. E. Dannert, "Customs of 

Seminars filr Orientalische Sprachen the Ovaherero at the Birth of a Child," 

zu Berlin, iii. (1900) Dritte Abthei- (South African) Folk-lore Journal, \\. 

lung, pp. 89 sq. ; J. Irle, Die Herero, (1880) pp. 66 sq. Compare Rev. G. 

pp. 74, 75, 77. Apparently it is only Viehe, op. cit. i. (1879) p. 41; H. 

a powerful or eminent man who be- Schinz, op. cit. p. 168. 





ing the 
of the 

hearth. 1 Hither the sick are carried to be commended to 
the care of their ghostly kinsmen, and as the sufferer is 
borne round and round the fire his friends chant : 

" See, Father, we have come here, 
With this sick man to you, 
That he may soon recover:* 2 

But the most tangible link between the worship of the 
fire and the worship of the dead is furnished by the sacred 
sticks representing the ancestors, which are kept in a bundle to- 
gether with the two sticks used for kindling the fire by friction. 
Each of these rude idols or Lares, as we may call them, " sym- 
bolises a definite ancestor of the paternal clan, and, taken 
together, they may be regarded as the most sacred possession 
of a family. They stand in the closest relation to the holy 
hearth, or rather to the priestly dignity, and must therefore 
always remain in the same paternal clan." s These sticks 
" are cut from trees or bushes which are dedicated to the 
ancestors, and they represent the ancestors at the sacrificial 
meals, for the cooked flesh of the victims is always set 
before them first. Many people always keep these sticks, 
tied up in a bundle with straps and hung with amulets, 
in the branches of the sacrificial bushes which stand on the 
sacred hearth (pkuruo}. The sacrificial bush serves to 
support the severed pieces of the victim, and thus in a 
measure represents an altar or table of sacrifice." 4 When 
after an absence of years the people return to a village 
where a chief died and was buried, a new fire is kindled by 
friction on the old hearth, the flesh of the first animal 
slaughtered here is cooked in a particular vessel, and the 
chief hands a portion of it to every person present. " An 
image, consisting of two pieces of wood, supposed to 
represent the household deity, or rather the deified parent, 
is then produced, and moistened in the platter of each 
individual. The chief then takes the image, and, after 
affixing a piece of meat to the upper end of it, he plants 
it in the ground, on the identical spot where his parent 

1 Rev. G. Viehe, in (South African) 
Folk-lore Journal, i. (1879) pp. 49 


2 Rev. G. Viehe, op. cit. i. 51. 

3 H. Schinz, op. cit. p. 166. Com- 
pare J. Irle, Die Herero, p. 77. 

4 J. Harm, op. cit. iv. (1869) p. 
500, note. 


was accustomed to sacrifice. The first pail of milk pro- 
duced from the cattle is also taken to the grave ; a small 
quantity is poured on the ground, and a blessing asked on 
the remainder." Each clan, the writer adds, has a particular 
tree or shrub consecrated to it, and of this tree or shrub the 
two sticks representing the deceased are made. 1 

In these accounts the sacred sticks which stand for the The sacred 
ancestors, and to which the meat of sacrifices is first offered, represent- 
are distinguished, expressly or implicitly, from the sacred ing the 
sticks which are used to make the holy fire. 2 Other writers, ^ prob- 
however, identify the two sets of sticks. Thus we are told abl y the 
that the Herero " make images of their ancestors as follows. wn i c h 
They take the two sticks with which they make fire and tie were used 
them together with a fresh wisp of corn. Then they worship f re sh fire 
this object as their ancestor. They may approach it only m the 
on their knees. For hours together they sit before it and after a 
talk with it. If you ask them where they imagine their d< 
ancestors to be, since they cannot surely be these sticks, they 
answer that they do not know. The sticks are kept in the 
house of the great wife." 3 Again, another writer defines 
the ondume or male fire-stick as a " stick representing an 
omukuru, i.e. ancestor, deity, with which and the otyiza the 
holy fire is made." 4 Again, the Rev. G. Viehe, in describing 
the ceremonies observed at the return to a deserted village 
where an ancestor (omukurii) is buried, tells us that they 
bring no fire with them, " but holy fire must now be obtained 
from the omukuru. This is done with the ondume and the 

1 C. J. Andersson, Lake Ngami, pp. dies, the sticks are wrapped in a por- 
228 sq. The ceremony is described tion of the sacred bull (pmusisi) which 
more fully by the Rev. G. Viehe, is slaughtered on this occasion, and a 
" Some Customs of the Ovaherero," new stick is added to the bundle. At 
(South African) Folk-lore Journal, i. the same time Mr. Irle tells us that 
(1879) pp. 6 1 sq., from whose account the fire-sticks (ozoiutnie) also repre- 
some of the details in the text are sent the ancestors and are made like 
borrowed. them from the omttvapu bush. See 

2 The distinction is made also by J. Irle, Die Herero, pp. 77, 79. 

Mr. J. Irle. According to him, while 3 Bensen, quoted by J. Kohler, 

the fire-sticks are called ozondnme "Das Recht der Herero," Zeitschrift 

(plural of ondume'), the sticks which fur vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft, 

represent the . ancestors are called xiv. (1900) p. 305. 

ozohongue and are made from the 4 Rev. G. Viehe, or his editor, 

omuvapu bush. In every chief's house op. fit. i. (1879) p. 39. The otyiza 

there is a bundle of about twenty of (otyiyd) is the female fire-stick. See 

these ancestral sticks. When a chief above, p. 218 note i. 


The sacred otyiza. The meaning of these two words plainly shows that 
sticks re- t ^ g t repre sents the omukuru, and the other his wife." l 

presenting . 

ancestors The same excellent authority defines the ozondume as " sticks 
iS P o\d which represent the ovakuru, i.e. ancestors, deities " ; 2 and 
fire-sticks, ozondume is simply the plural of ondume, the male fire- 
stick. 3 Hence it appears highly probable that the sticks 
representing the ancestors are, in fact, nothing but the male 
fire-sticks, each of which was cut to make a new fire on the 
return to the old village after a chiefs death. The stick 
would be an appropriate emblem of the deceased, who had 
been in his lifetime the owner of the sacred fire, and who 
now after his death bestowed it on his descendants by means 
of the friction of his wooden image. And the symbolism 
will appear all the more natural when we remember that the 
male fire-stick is generally made from the ancestral tree, 
that the process of fire-making is regarded by the Herero as 
the begetting of a child, and that their name for the stick, 
according to the most probable etymology, signifies " the 
begetter." Such sticks would be far too sacred to be thrown 


away when they had served their immediate purpose of 
kindling a new fire, and thus in time a whole bundle of 
them would accumulate, each of them recalling, and in a 
sense representing, one of the great forefathers of the tribe. 
When the old sticks had ceased to be used as fire-lighters, 
and were preserved merely as memorials of the dead, it is 
not surprising that their original function should be over- 
looked by some European observers, who have thus been 
led to distinguish them from the sticks by which the fire 
is actually produced at the present day. 4 Amongst the 

1 Rev. G. Viehe, in (South African) Bantu Deutsch-Slidwestafrikas," Mit- 
Folk-lore Journal, i. (1879) p. 61. theilungen des Seminars fur Orienta- 

2 Ibid. p. 43, compare p. 50. lische Sprachen zu Berlin, iii. (1900) 

3 J- Irle, Die Herero, p. 79. Dritte Abtheilung, p. 74). In savage 
* I have assumed that the ancestral society women are of too little account 

sticks, whatever their origin, represent for their ghosts to be commonly wor- 

only men. This is plainly implied by shipped. Speaking of the Bantu 

Dr. Brincker, who tells us that " each peoples, a writer who knows them 

of these sticks represents the male well observes : " This lack of respect 

member of generation and in the for old women is a part of the natives' 

Bantu sense a personality, which stands religious system, and is connected with 

for the presence of the deceased chief their conception of a future life, in 

on all festive occasions and especially which women play a subordinate part, 

at religious ceremonies" (" Character, their spirits not being able to cause 

Sitten, und Gebrauche, specie!! der much trouble, and therefore not being 


Koryaks of north-eastern Asia, when the sacred fire-boards, sacred 

roughly carved in human form, are so full of holes that 

among the 

they can no longer be used for the purpose of kindling fire, Koryaks 

they are still kept as holy relics in a shrine near the door 
of the house ; and a stranger who observed the respect north 
with which they are treated, but who did not know 
their history, might well mistake them for figures of wor- 
shipful ancestors and never guess the practical purpose 
which they once served as fire-lighters. A Koryak family 
regards its sacred fire-board not only as the deity of the 
household fire, the guardian of the family hearth, but also 
as the guardian of the reindeer, and they call it the " master 
of the herd." It is supposed to protect the reindeer from 
wolves and from sickness and to prevent the animals from 
straying away and being lost. When a reindeer is slaughtered, 
the sacred fire-board is taken out and smeared with the 
blood. The maritime Koryaks, who do not live by rein- 
deer, regard the sacred fire-board as the master of the 
underground house and the helper in the hunt of sea- 
mammals. They call it " father " and feed it from time to 
time with fat, which they smear on its mouth. 1 Among 
the neighbouring Chuckchees in the north-eastern extremity 
of Asia similar ideas and customs obtain in respect of the 
fire-boards. These are roughly carved in human form and 
personified, almost deified, as the supernatural guardians of 
the reindeer. The holes made by drilling in the board are 
deemed the eyes of the figure and the squeaking noise pro- 
duced by the friction of the fire-drill in the hole is thought 
to be its voice. At every sacrifice the mouth of the figure is 
greased with tallow or with the marrow of bones. When a 
new fire-board is made, it is consecrated by being smeared 
with the blood of a slaughtered reindeer, and the owner 
says, " Enough ! Take up your abode here ! " Then the 
other fire-boards are brought to the same place and set side 
by side on the ground. The owner says, " Ho ! these are 
your companions. See that I always find easily every kind 
of game ! " Next he slaughters another reindeer and says, 

of much account" (Dudley Kidd, The $2-36 (Memoir of 'the American Museum 
Essential Kafir, p. 23). of Natural History, The Jesup North 

Pacific Expedition, vol. vi., Leyden 
1 W. Jochelson, "The Koryak," pp. and New York, 1908). 



" Hi ! Since you are one of my young men, go and drive 
the herd hither ! " Then after a pause he asks the fire- 
board, " Have you brought it ? " to which in the name of 
the fire-board he answers, " I have." Thereupon, speaking 
in his own person, he says, " Then catch some reindeer ! 
It seems that you will keep a good watch over the herd. 
There, from the actual chief of the fire-boards, you may 
learn wisdom." These sacred fire-boards are often handed 
down from generation to generation as family heir-looms. 
During the calving-season they are taken from their bag 
and placed behind the frame in the outer tent in order that 
they may protect the dams. 1 

Theevolu- These Koryak and Chuckchee customs illustrate the 
fi e n g f d a evolution of a fire-god into the patron deity of a family and 
or fire- his representation in human form by the board which is 
used in fire-making. As the fire-board is that part of the 
kindling apparatus which is commonly regarded as female 
in contradistinction to the drill, which is regarded as male, 
we can easily understand why the deity of the fire should 
sometimes, as at Rome, be conceived as a goddess rather 
than as a god ; whereas if the drill itself were viewed as 
the essential part of the apparatus we should expect to find 
a fire-god and not a fire-goddess. 

1 W. Bogaras, " The Chukchee The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, 
Religion," pp. 349-353 {Memoir of the vol. vii. part ii., Leyden and New 
American Museum of Natural History, York, 1 904). 



THE reader may remember that the preceding account of the similarity 
fire-customs of the Herero was introduced for the sake If tv L een 

the nre- 

of comparison with the Latin worship of Vesta. The points customs of 
of similarity between the two will now be indicated. In the and th 
first place we have seen reason to hold that the ever-burning ancient 
Vestal fire at Rome was merely a survival of the fire on 
the king's hearth. So among the Herero the sacred fire 
of the village is the chiefs fire, which is kept burning or 
smouldering in his house by day and by night. In Rome, 
as in Hereroland, the extinction of the fire was regarded as 
an evil omen, which had to be expiated by sacrifices, 1 and 
new fire was procured in primitive fashion by twirling the 
point of one stick in the hole of another. The Roman 
fire was fed with the wood of the sacred oak tree, just as the 
African fire is kindled with the wood of the sacred omum- 
borombonga tree. Beside both were kept the images of the 
ancestors, the Lares at Rome, the ozondume in Herero- 
land. The king's house which sheltered the fire and the 
images was originally in Italy what the chiefs hut still is 
in Hereroland, a circular hut of osiers, not as ancient 
dreamers thought, because the earth is round, 2 nor yet 
because a circle is the symbol of rest, but simply because 
it is both easier and cheaper to build a round hut than a 
square. 8 

1 Livy, xxviii.' n. 6 sq. ; Dionysius 3 Dudley Kidd, The Essential Kofi r t 

I lalicarnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. ii. pp. 1 1 sq. On the diffusion of the 

67. 5. round hut in Africa Sir H. H. John- 

* Ovid, Fasti, vi. 2655^.; Festus, ston says: "The original form of 

p. 262, ed. C. O. Miiller. house throughout all British Central 





or some 
of them, 
appear to 
have been 
the king's 

Further, in Rome the sacred fire was tended, as it still 
is in Hereroland, by unmarried women, and as the Herero 
priestesses are the chiefs daughters, so, we may conjecture, 
it was with some at least of the Vestals among the ancient 
Latins. The Roman Vestals appear to have been under the 
patria potestas of the king, and, in republican times, of the 
Pontifex Maximus, who succeeded to some of the king's 
functions. 1 But if they were under the patria potestas of the 
king, they must have been either his wives or daughters ; 
as virgins they cannot have been his wives ; it remains, 
therefore, that they were his daughters. Various circum- 
stances confirm this view. Their house at Rome, as we saw, 
always adjoined the Regia, the old palace of the kings ; 
they were treated with marks of respect usually accorded to 
royalty ; 2 and the most famous of all the Vestals, the 
mother of Romulus, was said to be a daughter of the King 
of Alba. 3 The custom of putting an unfaithful Vestal to 
death by immuring her in a subterranean chamber 4 may 
have been adopted in order to avoid the necessity of taking 
the life of a princess by violence ; 5 for, as we shall learn later 
on, there is a very widespread reluctance to spill royal blood. 

Africa was what the majority of the 
houses still are circular and somewhat 
like a beehive in shape, with round 
walls of wattle and daub and thatched 
roof. This style of house is character- 
istic of (a) all Africa south of the Zam- 
bezi ; (b) all British Central Africa ; as 
much of the Portuguese provinces of Zam- 
bezia and Mo9ambique as are not under 
direct Portuguese or Muhammedan in- 
fluence which may have introduced the 
rectangular dwelling ; (c) all East Africa 
up to and including the Egyptian Sudan, 
where Arab influence has not introduced 
the oblong rectangular building ; (d) the 
Central Nigerian Sudan, much of Sene- 
gambia, and perhaps the West Coast of 
Africa as far east and south as the Gold 
Coast, subject, of course, to the same 
limitations as to foreign influence " 
(British Central Africa, London, 1897, 
P- 453)- 

1 J. Marquardt, Rijmische Staatsver- 
waltung, iii. 2 pp. 250, 341 sq. 

2 J. Marquardt, op. cit. iii. 2 pp. 340 

sq. ; Journal of Philology, xiv. (1885) 
pp. 155^. 

3 Livy, i. 3 sq.; Dionysius Hali- 
carnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. i. 76 sq. ; 
Plutarch, Romulus, 3. 

4 Plutarch, Numa, 10 ; Dionysius 
Halicarnasensis, Ant. Rom. ii. 67. 4, 
viii. 89. 5. 

6 The suggestion is due to Mr. M. 
A. Bayfield (Classical Review, xv. 
1901, p. 448). He compares the 
similar execution of the princess Anti- 
gone (Sophocles, Antigone, 773 sqq.). 
However, we must remember that a 
custom of burying people alive has 
been practised as a punishment or a 
sacrifice by Romans, Persians, and 
Germans, even when the victims were 
not of royal blood. See Livy, xxii. 
57. 6 ; Pliny, Nat. Hist, xxviii. 12 ; 
Plutarch, Marcellus, 3 ; id. , Quaest. 
Rom. 83; Herodotus, vii. 114; J. 
Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalterthumer? 
pp. 694 sq. As to the objection to 
spill royal blood, seeThe Golden Bough, 
Second Edition, i. 354 sq. 


Amongst the Herero the chiefs daughter who tends the Rites per 
holy fire has also to perform certain priestly rites, which 
have for their object the prosperity and multiplication of for the 
the cattle. 1 So, too, it was with the Roman Vestals. On 
the fifteenth of April every year pregnant cows were and the 
sacrificed to the Earth goddess ; the unborn calves were O f ca ttie. 
torn from their mothers' wombs, the chief Vestal burned 
them and kept their ashes for use at the shepherds' festival 
of the Parilia. This sacrifice of pregnant cows was a 
fertility charm designed, by a curious application of 
homoeopathic magic, to quicken both the seed in the ground 
and the wombs of the cows and the ewes. 2 At the Parilia, 
held on the twenty-first of April, the Vestals mixed the 
ashes of the unborn calves with the blood of a horse which 
had been sacrificed in October, and this mixture they dis- 
tributed to shepherds, who fumigated their flocks with it 
as a means of ensuring their fecundity and a plentiful supply 
of milk. 3 

Strange as at first it may seem to find holy virgins The 
assisting in operations intended to promote the fertility of 
the earth and of cattle, this reproductive function accords probably 
perfectly with the view that they were of old the wives at^bodi- 
of the fire-god and the mothers of kings. On that view, ments of 
also, we can understand why down to imperial times the W ho was 
Vestals adored the male emblem of generation, 4 and why a mother- 
Vesta herself, the goddess of whom they were the priestesses fh e be- S> 
and probably the embodiments, was worshipped by the st wer of 
Romans not as a virgin but as a mother. 6 She was some- on cattle 
times identified with Venus. 6 Like Diana, with whom she and 


was identified at Nemi, she appears to have been a goddess 
of fecundity, who bestowed offspring both on cattle and on 
women. That she was supposed to multiply cattle is 

1 See above, p. 215. sacra Romano. Vestalibus colitur." 

2 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 629-672. Com- 6 Virgil, Georg. i. 498 ; Ovid, 
pare Varro, De lingua Latino, vi. 15; Fasti, iv. 828; G. Henzen, Acta 
Joannes Lydus, De mensibus, iv. 49. fratrum Arualium, pp. 124, 147 ; H. 

3 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 731-782. See Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae selectae, 
below, p. 326.' Nos. 5047, 5048. Ennius represented 

4 Pliny, Nat. Hist, xxviii. 39 : Vesta as the mother of Saturn and 
" Quamquam religionc tutatur et Titan. See Lactantius, Divin. inst. 

fascinus, imperatorum quoque, non i. 14. 

solum infantium custos, qui deus inter Augustine, De civitate Dei, iv. 10. 





indicated by the ceremonies which the Vestals performed 
in April ; that she made women to be mothers is hinted at 
not obscurely by the legends of the birth of the old Latin 
kings. 1 The ancient Aryan practice of leading a bride 
thrice round the hearth of her new home 2 may have been 
intended not merely to introduce her to the ancestral spirits 
who had their seats there, but also to promote conception, 
perhaps by allowing one of these very spirits to enter into 
her and be born again. When the ancient Hindoo bride- 
groom led his bride round the fire, he addressed the fire-god 
Agni with the words, " Mayst thou give back, Agni, to the 
Custom of husbands the wife together with offspring." s When a 
brideround Slavonian bride enters her husband's house after marriage 
the fire s h e is led thrice round the hearth ; then she must stir the fire 
fertility 5 with the poker, saying, " As many sparks spring up, so many 
charm. cattle, so many male children shall enliven the new home." 4 
At Mostar, in Herzogovina, the bride seats herself on a 
bag of fruit beside the hearth in her new home and pokes 
the fire thrice. While she does so, they bring her a small 

1 See above, pp. 195 sqq. 

2 Grihya Siltras, translated by H. 
Oldenberg, vol. i. pp. 37, 168, 279, 
283, 382, 384, vol. ii. pp. 46, 191, 
260 ; M. Winternitz, "Das altindische 
Hochzeitsrituell," pp. 4, 56-62 (Denk- 
schriften der kaiserl. Akademie der 
Wissenschaftcn in Wien, xl., Vienna, 
1892) ; H. Zimmer, Altindisc hes Leben, 
p. 312 ; G. A. Grierson, Bihar Peasant 
Life (Calcutta, 1885), p. 368; F. S. 
Krauss, Sitte und Branch der Siidslaven, 
pp. 386, 436, cp. 430 ; J. Lasicius, 
" De diis Samagitarum caeterorumque 
Sarmatarum,"in Magazinherausgegeben 
von der Lettisch-Literarischen Gesell- 
schaft, xiv. 99 ; J. Maeletius (Maletius), 
" De sacrificiis et idolatria veterum 
Borussorum Livonum aliarumque 
vicinarum gentium," in Mitteilungen 
der Litterarischen Gesellschaft Masovia, 
viii. (1902) pp. 191, 204 (this work 
is also reprinted under the name of J. 
Menecius in Scriptores rerum Livoni- 
carum, ii. (Riga and Leipsic, 1848) 
pp. 389-392) ; F. Woeste, in Zeitschrift 
fiir deutsche Mythologie undSittenktinde, 
ii. (1855) p. 91 ; A. Kuhn und W. 
Schwartz, Norddeutsche Sagen, Marchen 

und Gebrauche, pp. 433, 522 ; A. Kuhn, 
Sagen, Gebrauche und Marchen aus 
Westfalen, ii. 38 ; J. H. Schmitz, Sitten 
und Sagen, etc., des Eifler Volkes, 
i. 67 ; Montanus, Die deutsche Volks- 
feste, Volksbrduche und deutscher Volks- 
glaube, p. 85 ; Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, 
Hochzeitsbuch (Leipsic, 1871), p. 222 ; 
L. v. Schroeder, Die Hochzeitsbrduche 
der Esten (Berlin, 1888), pp. 127^^.; 
E. Samter, Familienfeste der Griechen 
und Homer (Berlin, 1901), pp. 59-62; 
O. Schrader, Reallexikon der indo- 
germanischen Altertumskunde, pp. 356 
sq. This evidence proves that the 
custom has been practised by the 
Indian, Slavonian, Lithuanian, and 
Teutonic branches of the Aryan race, 
from which we may fairly infer that it 
was observed by the ancestors of the 
whole family before their dispersion. 

3 Grihya-SAtras, translated by H. 
Oldenberg, vol. i. p. 283 (Sacred Books 
of the East, vol. xxix.). 

4 Prof. VI. Titelbach, "Das heilige 
Feuer bei den Balkanslaven," Inter- 
nationales Archiv fiir Ethnographie, 
xiii. (1900) p. I. 


boy and set him on her lap. She turns the child thrice 
round in order that she may give birth to male children. 1 
Still more clearly does belief in the impregnation of a 
woman by fire come out in another South Slavonian custom. 
When a wife wishes to have a child, she will hold a vessel 
full of water beside the fire on the hearth, while her husband 
knocks two burning brands together so that the sparks fly 
out. When some of them have fallen into the vessel, the 
woman drinks the water which has thus been fertilised by 
the fire. 2 The same belief seems still to linger in England ; 
for there is a Lincolnshire saying that if a woman's apron is 
burned above the knee by a spark or red-hot cinder flying 
out of a fire, she will become a mother. 3 Thus the super- 
stition which gave rise to the stories of the birth of the old 
Roman kings holds its ground to this day in Europe, even 
in our own country. So indestructible are the crude fancies 
of our savage forefathers. Thus we may safely infer 
that the old practice of leading a bride formally to or 
round the hearth was designed to make her fruitful 
through the generative virtue ascribed to the fire. The 
custom is not confined to peoples of the Aryan stock, for it 
is observed also by the Esthonians and the Wotyaks of 
Russia 4 and, as we have seen, by the Herero of South 
Africa. 5 It expresses in daily life the same idea which is 
embodied in the myths of the birth of Servius Tullius and 
the other Latin kings, whose virgin mothers conceived 
through contact with a spark or tongue of fire. 6 

Accordingly, where beliefs and customs of this sort have 

1 . S. Krauss, Sitte und Brauch John's College, Cambridge, writes to 
der Siidslaven (Vienna, 1885), p. 430. me (i8th June 1906): "A curious 

2 F. S. Krauss, op. cit. p. 531. and not very quotable instance of (I 

3 This saying was communicated to suppose) Sacred Marriage was brought 
me by Miss Mabel Peacock in a letter to my notice by Mr. Brown of the 
dated KSrton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire, Canadian Baptist Mission to the 
3Oth October 1905. Telugus. He said that in Hindoo 

4 Max Buch, Die Wotjaken (Stutt- temples (in South India chiefly ?) 
gart, 1882), pp. 5 2 59 5 L. v. sometimes a scaffolding is erected over 
Schroeder, op. cit. pp. 129, 132. a fire. A man and a woman are got 

5 Above, pp. 221 sq. to copulate on it and allow the human 
As it is believed that fire may seed to fall into the fire." But per- 

impregnate human beings, so con- haps this ceremony is only another 

versely some people seem to imagine way of conveying the fertilising virtue 

that it may be impregnated by them. of the fire to the woman, in other 

Thus Mr. T. R. Glover, Fellow of St. words, of getting her with child. 




New-born prevailed, it is easy to understand why new-born children 
children s h ou ld be brought to the hearth, and why their birth should 

brought J 

to the there be solemnly announced to the ancestors. This is done 
node^of 5 * ky t ^ le Herero, 1 and in like manner on the fifth or seventh 
introducing day after a birth the ancient Greeks used to run naked 
round the hearth with the new-born babe in their arms. 2 
This Greek ceremony may perhaps be regarded as merely a 
purification, in other words as a means of keeping at bay 
the demons who lie in wait for infants. Certainly in other 
parts of the world a custom has prevailed of passing a newly 
born child backwards and forwards through the smoke of the 
fire for the express purpose of warding off evil spirits or 
other baleful influences. 3 Yet on the analogy of the pre- 
ceding customs we may conjecture that a practice of 
solemnly bringing infants to the domestic hearth has also 
been resorted to as a mode of introducing them to the 
spirits of their fathers. 4 In Russia the old belief that the 
souls of the ancestors were somehow in the fire on the 
hearth has left traces of itself down to the present time. 
Thus in the Nijegorod Government it is still forbidden to 
break up the smouldering faggots in a stove, because to do 
so might cause the ancestors to fall through into hell. And 
when a Russian family moves from one house to another, 
the fire is raked out of the old stove into a jar and solemnly 

1 Above, pp. 215, 221. 

2 Suidas, Harpocration, and Etymo- 
logicum Magnum, s.v. 'Afj.<j>i8p&fua ; 
Hesychius, s.v. dpo/j.d<f>iov fj^ap ; Schol. 
on Plato, Theaetetus, p. 160 E. On 
this custom see S. Reinach, Cultes, 
mythes, et religions, i. (Paris, 1905) 
pp. 137-145. He suggests that the 
running of the naked men who carried 
the babies was intended, by means of 
sympathetic magic, to impart to the 
little ones in after-life the power of 
running fast. But this theory does not 
explain why the race took place round 
the hearth. 

3 The custom has been practised 
with this intention in Scotland, China, 
New Britain, the Tenimber and Timor- 
laut Islands, and by the Ovambo of 
South Africa. See Pennant's " Second 
Tour in Scotland," Pinkerton's Voyages 

and Travels, iii. 383; Miss C. F. 
Gordon Gumming, In the Hebrides, 
ed. 1883, p. IOI ; China Review, ix. 
(1880-1881) p. 303; R. Parkinson, 
Im Bismarck- Archipel, pp. 94 sq. ; 
J. G. F. Riedel, De sluik- en kroes- 
harige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua, 
p. 303; H. Schinz, Deutsch-Siidwest- 
Afrika, p. 307. A similar custom was 
observed, probably for the same reason, 
in ancient Mexico and in Madagascar. 
See Clavigero, History of Mexico, 
translated by Cullen, i. 31 ; W. Ellis. 
History of Madagascar, i. 152. Com- 
pare my note, " The Youth of Achilles," 
Classical ^Review, vii. (1893) pp. 293 

* Compare E. Samter, Familienfesie 
der Griechen und Rbmer (Berlin, 1901), 
pp. 59-62 


conveyed to the new one, where it is received with the words, 
" Welcome, grandfather, to the new home ! " 

But why, it may be asked, should a procreative virtue Reasons 
be attributed to the fire, which at first sight appears to be a 

purely destructive agent ? and why in particular should virtue was 
the ancestral spirits be conceived as present in it? TwOto C re 
different reasons perhaps led savage philosophers to these 
conclusions. In the first place the common mode of making The 
fire by means of the fire-drill has suggested, as we have seen, j^f* 5 cf 
to many savages the notion that fire is the child of the fire- fire by 
sticks, in other words that the rubbing of the fire-sticks s "e m n to 
together is a sexual union which begets offspring in the the savage 
shape of a flame. This of itself suffices to impress on the generation. 
mind of a savage the idea that a capacity of reproduction is 
innate in the fire, and consequently that a woman may 
conceive by contact with it. Strictly speaking, he ought 
perhaps to refer this power of reproduction not to the fire 
but to the fire-sticks ; but savage thought is in general too 
vague to distinguish clearly between cause and effect. If he 
thinks the matter out, as he may do if he is more than 
usually reflective, the savage will probably conclude that fire 
exists unseen in all wood, and is only elicited from it by 
friction, 2 so that the spark or flame is the child, not so much 
of the fire-sticks, as of the parent fires in them. But this 
refinement of thought may well be above the reach even of 
a savage philosopher. The second reason which seems Again, the 
to have led early man to associate the fire with the souls JJsodlued 
of his ancestors was a superstitious veneration for the with the 
ancestral tree which furnished either the fuel for the through" 
sacred fire or the material out of which he carved one the sacred 
or both of the fire-sticks. Among the Herero, as we 

saw, the male fire - stick commonly is, or used to be. furn 'shed 

riii i r r either the 

made out of the holy omumborombonga tree, from which f ue i or the 
they believe that they and their cattle sprang in days of fire - sticks - 
old. Hence nothing could be more natural than that 
they should regard the fire, produced by the friction of a 

1 W. R. S. Ralston, The Songs of the sentative of an ancestral spirit. Com- 

Russian People, pp. 120 sq. Ralston pare ibid. pp. 84, 86, 119. 

held that the Russian house-spirit 2 Evidence of this view will be 

Domovoy, who is supposed to live adduced later on. See The Golden 

behind the stove, is the modern repre- Bongh, Second Edition, iii. 456. 


piece of the ancestral tree, as akin to themselves, the 
offspring of the same mighty forefather, to wit, the sacred 
tree. Similarly, the Vestal fire at Rome was fed with the 
wood of the oak, the sacred tree of Jupiter, and the first 
Romans are described as " born of the tree trunks and the 
heart of oak." l No wonder, then, that the Latin kings, 
who claimed to represent Jupiter, and in that capacity 
masqueraded in his costume and made mock thunder, should 
have prided themselves on being sprung from a fire which 
was fed with the wood of the god's holy tree ; such an origin 
was only another form of descent from the oak and from the 
god of the oak, Jupiter himself. 

Esthonian The theory that impregnation by fire is really impreg- 

custorrf 6 nation by the wood of the tree with which the fire is kindled, 

derives some confirmation from a custom which is observed 

at marriage by some of the Esthonians in the neighbourhood 

of Oberpahlen. The bride is escorted to a tree, which is 

thereupon cut down and burned. When the fire blazes up, 

she is led thrice round it and placed between three armed 

men, who clash their swords over her head, while the women 

sing a song. Then some coins are thrown into the fire, and 

when it has died out they are recovered and knocked into 

the stump of the tree, which was cut down to serve as 

fuel. 2 This is clearly a mode of rewarding, first the fire, 

and next the tree, for some benefit they have conferred on 

the bride. But in early society husband and wife desire 

nothing so much as offspring ; this therefore may very well 

be the benefit for which the Esthonian bride repays the tree. 

The Thus far we have regarded mainly the paternal aspect 

ofSSe- of the fire > which the Latins mythically embodied in Jupiter, 

mother that is literally Father Jove, the god of the oak. The 

botmd'up maternal aspect of the fire was for them represented by 

with that Mother Vesta, as they called her ; and as the Roman king 

female fire- sto d for Father Jove, so his wife or daughter the practice 

stick in the on this point appears to have varied stood for Mother Vesta. 

fire-drill. ,., . '. 

bometimes, as we have seen, the Vestal virgins, the priest- 
esses or rather incarnations of Vesta, appear to have been 
the daughters, not the wives, of the king. But, on the other 

1 See above, pp. 185 sq. brduche der Esten (Berlin, 1888), pp. 

2 L. v. Schroeder, Die Hochzeits- 129 sq. 


hand, there are grounds for thinking that the wife of King 
Latinus, the legendary ancestor of the Latins, was tradition- 
ally regarded as a Vestal, 1 and the analogy of the Flamen 
Dialis with his wife the Flaminica, as I shall shew presently, 
points also to a married pair of priestly functionaries con- 
cerned with the kindling and maintenance of the sacred fire. 
However that may have been, we may take it as probable 
that the notion of the fire-mother was intimately associated 
with, if it did not spring directly from, the female fire-stick 
of the fire-drill, just as the conception of the fire-father was 
similarly bound up with the male fire-stick. 

Further, it seems that these mythical beings, the fire- The Fire- 
father and the fire-mother, were represented in real life by a [^pire 1 ^ 
priest and a priestess, who together made the sacred fire, the mother 
priest appropriately twirling the pointed male stick, while 

the priestess held fast on the ground the holed female stick, and priest- 
ready to blow up into a flame the spark which fell on the together 
tinder. In the composite religion of Rome, formed like the made the 

m t f * 1-1 1-1- sacred fire 

Roman state by the fusion of several tribes, each with its by means 
own gods and priests, such pairs of fire-priests may at first f .| he fire ' 
have been duplicated. In one or more of the tribes which 
afterwards made up the Roman commonwealth the function 
of kindling the holy fire of oak was perhaps assigned to the 
Flamen Dialis and his wife the Flaminica, the living 
representatives of Jupiter and Juno ; and if, as some scholars 
think, the name flamen comes from flare, " to blow up," 2 the 
derivation would fit well with this theory. But in historical 
Rome the duty of making the sacred fire lay with the 
Vestal virgins and the chief pontiff. 3 The mode in which 
they shared the work between them is not described by 
ancient writers, but we may suppose that one of the 
virgins held the board of lucky wood on the ground while 
the pontiff inserted the point of a peg into the hole of the 
board and made the peg revolve rapidly between the palms 
of his hands. When the likeness of this mode of producing 
fire to the intercourse of the sexes had once struck people, 

1 See above, p. 197. Fowler, Roman Festivals of the Period 

2 Th. Mommsen, History of Rome, of the Republic, p. 147. For another 
New Edition (London, 1894), i. 215 derivation of their name see below, 
sg. ; J. Marquardt, Romische Staats- p. 247. 

verwaltung, iii. 2 p. 326 ; W. Warde 3 See above, p. 207. 


they would deem it unnatural, and even indecent, for 
a woman to usurp the man's function of twirling the pointed 
male stick. But the Vestals certainly helped to make fire 
by friction ; it would seem, therefore, that the part they 
took in the process can only have been the one I have 
conjecturally assigned to them. At all events, the conjec- 
ture is supported by the following analogies. 

Among the The Djakuns, a wild tribe of the Malay Peninsula, are 
firei^rnade m ^e h 3 - ^ f making fire by friction. A traveller has 
by the described the custom as follows : " When a troop was on a 
1 journey and intended either to pitch a temporary camp, or 
married to make a longer settlement, the first camp fire was kindled 
for good luck by an unmarried girl with the help of the 
fire-drill. Generally this girl was the daughter of the man 
who served the troop as leader. It was deemed of special 
importance that on the first night ol a settlement the fire of 
every band should be lit by the unmarried daughter of a 
leader. But she might only discharge this duty if she had 
not her monthly sickness on her at the time. This custom 
is all the more remarkable inasmuch as the Djakuns in 
their migrations always carried a smouldering rope of bark 
with them." " When the fire was to be kindled, the girl 
took the piece of soft wood and held it on the ground, while 
her father, or any other married man, twirled the vertical 
borer upon it. She waited for the spark to spring from the 
wood, and fanned it into a flame either by blowing on it or 
by waving the piece of wood quickly about in her hand. 
For this purpose she caught the spark in a bundle of teased 
bark and exposed it to a draught of air." " Fire so produced 
was employed to kindle the other fires for that night. They 
ascribed to it good luck in cooking and a greater power of 
keeping off tigers and so forth, than if the first fire had been 
kindled by a spark from the smouldering bark rope." l This 

1 H. Vaughan Stevens, "Mitteilun- more convenient that he or she should 

gen aus dem Frauenleben der Orang do so. Thus the co-operation of a 

Belendas, der Orang Djakun und der married man and an unmarried girl, 

Orang Laut," bearbeitet von Dr. Max though apparently deemed the best, 

Bartels, Zeitschrift filr Ethnologic, was not the only permissible way of 

xxviii. (1896) pp. 1 68 sq. The writer igniting the wood. The good faith 

adds that any person, boy, man, or or at all events the accuracy of the 

woman (provided she was not men- late German traveller H. Vaughan 

struous) might light the fire, if it were Stevens is not, I understand, above 


account suggests a reason why a holy fire should be tended 
by a number of virgins : one or more of them might at any 
time be incapacitated by a natural infirmity for the discharge 
of the sacred duty. 

Again, the Slavs of the Balkan Peninsula ascribe a Among 
healing or protective power to " living fire," and when an o'Tthe" 
epidemic is raging in a village they will sometimes Balkans 
extinguish all the fires on the hearths and procure a " living by 
fire " by the friction of wood. At the present day this is &* 1 and 
done by various mechanical devices, but the oldest method, 
now almost obsolete, is said to be as follows : A girl and a 
boy between the ages of eleven and fourteen, having been 
chosen to make the fire, are led into a dark room, where 
they must strip themselves of all their clothes without 
speaking a word. Then two perfectly dry cylindrical pieces 
of lime- wood are given them, which they must rub rapidly 
against each other, turn about, till they take fire. Tinder is 
then lit at the flame and used for the purpose of healing. 
This mode of kindling the " living fire " is still practised in 
the Schar Mountains of Old Servia. The writer who 
describes it witnessed some years ago the use of the sacred 
fire at the village of Setonje, at the foot of the Homolye 
Mountains, in the heart of the great Servian forest. But on 
that occasion the fire was made in the manner described, 
not by a boy and girl, but by an old woman and an old 
man. Every fire in the village had previously been 
extinguished, and was afterwards relit with the new 
fire. 1 

Among the Kachins of Burma, when people take solemn Among the 
possession of a new house, a new fire is made in front of it ^g^ ms 
by a man and woman jointly. A dry piece of bamboo is made by a 
pegged down on the ground ; the two fire-makers sit down o m an d 

suspicion ; but Mr. Nelson Annandale, witnessed by Prof. Titelbach will be jointly, 
joint author of Fasciculi Malayenses, described later on in this work. King- 
writes to me of him that " he certainly lake rode through the great Servian 
had a knowledge and experience of the forest on his way from Belgrade to 
wild tribes of the Malay region which Constantinople, and from his descrip- 
few or none have excelled, for he lived tion (Eothen, ch. ii.) we gather that it 
literally as one of themselves." is chiefly composed of oak. He says : 
1 Prof. VI. Titelbach, " Das heilige "Endless and endless now on either 
Feuer bei den Balkanslaven," Inter- side the tall oaks closed in their ranks, 
nationales Archiv fur Ethnographic, and stood gloomily lowering over 
xiii. (1900) pp. 2-4. The ceremony us." 



Thus the 
of the fire- 
sticks as 
male and 
female is 
out by 
the male 
stick to be 
worked by 
a man and 
the female 
stick to be 
worked by 
a woman. 

differ as to 
the fire- 
should be 
or single. 

facing each other at either end of it, and together rub 
another piece of bamboo on the horizontal piece, one of 
them holding the wrists of the other and both pressing 
down firmly till fire is elicited. 1 

In the first at least of these customs, it is plain, the con- 
ception of the fire-sticks as male and female has been logic- 
ally carried out by requiring the male fire-stick to be worked 
by a man and the female fire-stick to be held by a woman. 
But opinions seem to differ on the question whether the fire- 
makers should be wedded or single. The Djakuns prefer 
that the man should be married and the woman unmarried ; 
on the other hand, the Slavs of the Schar Mountains clearly 
think it better that both should be single, since they entrust 
the duty of making the fire to a boy and girl. In so far as 
the man's part in the work is concerned, some of our Scottish 
Highlanders agree with the Djakuns at the other end of the 
world ; for the natives of Lewis " did also make use of a fire 
called Tin-egin, i.e. a forced fire, or fire of necessity, which 
they used as an antidote against the plague or murrain in 
cattle ; and it was performed thus : all the fires in the parish 
were extinguished, and then eighty-one married men, being 
thought the necessary number for effecting this design, took 
two great planks of wood, and nine of them were employed 
by turns, who by their repeated efforts rubbed one of the 
planks against the other until the heat thereof produced 
fire ; and from this forced fire each family is supplied with 
new fire, which is no sooner kindled than a pot full of water 
is quickly set on it, and afterwards sprinkled upon the people 
infected with the plague, or upon the cattle that have the 
murrain. And this they all say they find successful by 
experiment : it was practised in the main land, opposite to 
the south of Skie, within these thirty years." 2 On the 
other hand, the Germans of Halberstadt sided with the 
South Slavs on this point, for they caused the forced fire, or 
need fire, as it is commonly called, to be made by two chaste 
boys, who pulled at a rope which ran round a wooden 

1 Ch. Gilhodes, " La Culture mate"ri- Western Islands of Scotland," in 
elle des Katchins (Birmanie)," Anthro- Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, iii. 
pos,\. (1910) p. 629. 611. The first edition of Martin's 

work was published in 1703, and the 

" M. Martin's "Description of the second in 1716. 


cylinder. 1 The theory and practice of the Basutos in South 
Africa were similar. After a birth had taken place they 
used to kindle the fire of the hut afresh, and "for this purpose 
it was necessary that a young man of chaste habits should 
rub two pieces of wood quickly one against another, until a 
flame sprung up, pure as himself. It was firmly believed 
that a premature death awaited him who should dare to 
take upon himself this office, after having lost his innocence. 
As soon, therefore, as a birth was proclaimed in the village, 
the fathers took their sons to undergo the ordeal. Those 
who felt themselves guilty confessed their crime, and 
submitted to be scourged rather than expose themselves to 
the consequences of a fatal temerity." 2 

It is not hard to divine why the task of twirling the Reasons 
male fire-stick in the hole of the female fire-stick should by Jj*^ *" 
some people be assigned to married men. The analogy of making 
the process to the intercourse of the sexes furnishes an unmarried 
obvious reason. It is less easy to understand why other t>pys and 
people should prefer to entrust the duty to unmarried boys. 
But probably the preference is based on a belief that chastity 
leaves the boys with a stock of reproductive energy which 
they may expend on the operation of fire-making, whereas 
married men dissipate the same energy in other channels. 
A somewhat similar train of thought may explain a rule of 
virginity enjoined on women who assist in the production of 
fire by holding the female fire-stick on the ground. As a 
virgin's womb is free to conceive, so, it might be thought, will 
be the womb of the female fire-stick which she holds ; whereas 
had the female fire-maker been already with child, she could 
not be reimpregnated, and consequently the female fire-stick 
could not give birth to a spark. Thus, in the sympathetic 
connexion between the fire-sticks and the fire-makers we 
seem to reach the ultimate origin of the order of the Vestal 
Virgins : they had to be chaste, because otherwise they could 
not light the fire. Once when the sacred fire had gone out, the 
Vestal in charge of it was suspected of having brought about 
the calamity by her unchastity, but she triumphantly 
repelled the suspicion by eliciting a flame from the cold 

1 J- Grimm, Deutsche Mythologit,* 2 E. Casalis, The Basutos, pp. 
i. 504. 267 sq. 


ashes. 1 Ideas of the same primitive kind still linger among 
the French peasantry, who think that if a girl can blow up 
a smouldering candle into a flame she is a virgin, but that if 
she fails to do so, she is not. 2 In ancient Greece none but 
persons of pure life were allowed to blow up the holy fire 
with their mouths ; a vile man who had polluted his lips 
was deemed unworthy to discharge the duty. 3 
The holy The French superstition, which I have just mentioned, 

rindufof ma y we ^ ^ ate f rom Druidical times, for there are some 
St. Brigit grounds for thinking that among the old Celts, as among 
L their near kinsmen the Latins, holy fires were tended by 
virgins. In our own country perpetual fires were maintained 
in the temple of a goddess whom the Romans identified with 
Minerva, 4 but whose native Celtic name seems to have been 
Brigit. Like Minerva, Brigit was a goddess of poetry and 
wisdom, and she had two sisters also called Brigit, who 
presided over leechcraft and smithcraft respectively. This 
appears to be only another way of saying that Brigit was 
the patroness of bards, physicians, and smiths. 5 Now, at 
Kildare in Ireland the nuns of St. Brigit tended a perpetual 
holy fire down to the suppression of the monasteries under 
Henry VIII. ; and we can hardly doubt that in doing so 
they merely kept up, under a Christian name, an ancient 
pagan worship of Brigit in her character of a fire-goddess or 
patroness of smiths. The nuns were nineteen in number. 
Each of them had the care of the fire for a single night in 
turn ; and on the twentieth evening the last nun, having 

1 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Anti- she puts a stop to the destruction. 
quit. Rom.\\. 68; Valerius Maximus, Success has sometimes rewarded a 
i. 1.7. virtuous woman " (Travels of an Arab 

2 J. Lecoeur, Esquisses du Bocage Merchant [Mohammed Ibn-Omar El- 
Normand, ii. (Conde" - sur - Noireau, Tounsy] in Soudan, abridged from the 
1887) p. 27 ; B. Souche, Croyances, French by Bayle St. John (London, 

presages et traditions diverses (Niort, 1854), p. 112). Compare R. W. 

1880), p. 12. Felkin, "Notes on the For Tribe of 

3 Polybius, xii. 13. In Darfur a Central Africa," Proceedings of the 
curious power over fire is ascribed to Royal Society of Edinburgh, xiii. 
women who have been faithful to their (1884-1886) p. 230. 

husbands. " It is a belief among the 4 Solinus, xxii. 10. The Celtic 

Forians, that if the city takes fire, the Minerva, according to Caesar (De bello 

only means of arresting the progress Gallico, vi. 17), was a goddess of the 

of the flames is to bring near them a mechanical arts. 

woman, no longer young, who has 6 J. Rhys, Celtic Heathendom, pp. 

never been guilty of intrigue. If she 73-77 ; P. W. Joyce, Social History of 

be pure, by merely waving a mantle, Ancient Ireland, i. 260 sq. 



heaped wood on the fire, used to say, " Brigit, take charge 
of your own fire ; for this night belongs to you." She then 
went away, and next morning they always found the fire 
still burning and the usual quantity of fuel consumed. Like 
the Vestal fire at Rome in the old days, the fire of St. 
Brigit burned within a circular enclosure made of stakes 
and brushwood, and no male might set foot inside the fence. 
The nuns were allowed to fan the fire or blow it up with Not to 
bellows, but they might not blow on it with their breath. 1 
Similarly it is said that the Balkan Slavs will not blow with 
their mouths on the holy fire of the domestic hearth ; 2 a 
Brahman is forbidden to blow a fire with his mouth ; s and 
among the Parsees the priests have to wear a veil over their 
mouth lest they should defile the sacred fire by their breath. 4 
The custom of maintaining a perpetual fire was not peculiar other per- 
to Kildare, but seems to have been common in Ireland, for P et , ua ! *? 

m Ireland. 

the native records shew that such fires were kept up in 
several monasteries, in each of which a small church or 
oratory was set apart for the purpose. This was done, for 

1 Giraldus Cambrensis, The Topo- 
graphy of Ireland, chaps, xxxiv.-xxxvi., 
translated by Thomas Wright ; P. W. 
Joyce, Social History of Ancient Ire- 
land, i. 334 sq. It is said that in the 
island of Sena (the modern Sein), off 
the coast of Brittany, there was an 
oracle of a Gallic deity whose worship 
was cared for by nine virgin priestesses. 
They could raise storms by their in- 
cantations, and turn themselves into 
any animals they pleased {Mela, iii. 
48) ; but it is not said that they main- 
tained a perpetual holy fire, though 
Ch. Elton affirms that they did (Origins 
of English History, p. 27). M. Salo- 
mon Reinach dismisses these virgins as 
a fable based on Homer's description of 
the isle of Circe ( Odyssey, x. 135 sqq.), 
and he denies that the Gauls employed 
virgin priestesses. See his article, 
" LesVierges de Sena," Revue Celtique, 
xviii. (1897) pp. 1-8; id., Cultes, 
mythes, et religions, i. (Paris, 1905) 
pp. 195 sqq. To me the nuns of 
St. Brigit seem to be most probably 
the successors of a Celtic order 
of Vestals. That there were female 
Druids is certain, but it does not appear 

whether they were virgins. See Lam- 
pridius, Alexander Severus, 60 ; Vopis- 
cus, Aurelianus, 44; id., Numerianus, 
14 sq. 

2 Prof. VI. Titelbach, "Das heilige 
Feuer bei den Balkanslaven," Inter- 
nationales Archiv fur Ethnographic, 
xiii. (1900) p. I. 

3 Laws of Manu, iv. 53, translated 
by G. Biihler (Sacred Books of the East, 
vol. xxv. p. 137). 

* Martin Haug, Essays on the Sacred 
Language, Writings, and Religion of 
the Parsees^ (London, 1884), p. 243, 
note I. Strabo describes the mouth- 
veil worn by the Magian priests in 
Cappadocia (xiv. 3. 15, p. 733). At 
Arkon, in the island of Rilgen, there 
was a shrine so holy that none but the 
priest might enter it, and even he 
might not breathe in it. As often as 
he needed to draw in or give out 
breath, he used to run out of the door 
lest he should taint the divine presence 
with his breath. See Saxo Gram- 
maticus, Historia Danica, bk. xiv. p. 
824, ed. P. E. Muller (p. 393 of 
Elton's English translation). 


example, at the monasteries of Seirkieran, Kilmainham, and 
Inishmurray. 1 We may conjecture that these holy fires 
were merely survivals of the perpetual fires which in pagan 
times had burned in honour of Brigit. The view that Brigit 
was a fire-goddess is confirmed by the observation that in 
the Christian calendar her festival falls the day before 
Candlemas, and the customs observed at that season by 
Celtic peasantry seem to prove that she was a goddess of 
the crops as well as of fire. 2 If that was so, it is another 
reason for comparing her to Vesta, whose priestesses per- 
formed ceremonies to fertilise both the earth and the cattle. 3 
Further, there are some grounds for connecting Brigit, like 
Vesta, with the oak ; for at Kildare her Christian namesake, 
St. Brigit's St. Brigit, otherwise known as St. Bride or St. Bridget, built 
fedS^ her cnurch under an oak-tree, which existed till the tenth 
oak-wood, century, and gave its name to the spot, for Kildare is Cill- 
dara, "the church of the oak-tree." 4 The "church of the 
oak " may well have displaced a temple or sanctuary of the 
oak, where in Druidical days the holy fire was fed, like the 
Vestal fire at Rome, with the wood of the sacred tree. 
Early Irish We may suspect that a conversion of this sort was often 
effected in Ireland by the early Christian missionaries. The 
built in monasteries of Derry and Durrow, founded by St. Columba, 
ves> were both named after the oak groves amidst which they 
were built ; and at Derry the saint spared the beautiful trees 
and strictly enjoined his successors to do the same. In his 
old age, when he lived an exile on the shores of the bleak 
storm-swept isle of lona, his heart yearned to the home of 
his youth among the oak groves of Ireland, and he gave 
expression to the yearning in passionate verse : 

" That spot is tJie dearest on Erin's ground, 

For the treasures that peace and purity lend, 
For the hosts of bright angels that circle it round, 
Protecting its borders from end to end. 

1 P. W. Joyce, Social History of survives in the lines, 

Ancient Ireland i. 335 sq ; Standish T]iaf ^ of Sain( Brid whkh ^ 

H. O'Grady, Sylva Gadeltca, transla- Devil nor Dane 

tion (London, 1892), pp. 15, 16, 41. Nor Saxon nor Dutchman could rend 

2 See above, pp. 94 sq. from herfanf 

3 See above, p. 229. 

4 Douglas Hyde, A Literary History which are quoted by Mr. D. Fitzgerald 
of Ireland (London, 1899), p. 158. in Revue Celtique, iv. (1879-1880) p. 
The tradition of the oak of Kildare 193. 


" The dearest of any on Erin's ground, 

For its peace and its beauty I gave it my love; 
Each leaf of the oaks around Derry is found 
To be crowded with angels from heaven above. 

" My Derry ! my Derry ! my little oak grove \ 

My dwelling, my home, and my own little cell, 
May God the Eternal in Heaven above 

Send death to thy foes, and defend thee well" * 

A feeling of the same sort came over a very different 
exile in a very different scene, when growing old amid the 
turmoil, the gaieties, the distractions of Paris, he remem- 
bered the German oak woods of his youth. 

" Ich hatte einst ein schones Vaterland. 
Der Eichenbaum 

Wuchs dort so hoch, die Veilchen nickten sanft. 
Es war ein Traum." 

Far from the oaks of Erin and the saint's last home virgin 
among the stormy Hebrides, a sacred fire has been o" 
tended by holy virgins, with statelier rites and in more among the 

solemn fanes, under the equinoctial line. The Incas of" 
Peru, who deemed themselves the children of the Sun, 
procured a new fire from their great father at the solstice 
in June, our Midsummer Day. They kindled it by holding 
towards the sun a hollow mirror, which reflected his beams 
on a tinder of cotton wool. But if the sky happened to be 
overcast at the time, they made the new fire by rubbing two 
sticks against each other ; and they looked upon it as a 
bad omen when they were obliged to do this, for they said 
the Sun must be angry with them, since he refused to kindle 
the flame with his own hand. The sacred fire, however 
obtained, was deposited at Cuzco, the capital of Peru, in the 
temple of the Sun, and also in a great convent of hoJy 
virgins, who guarded it carefully throughout the year, and it 
was an evil augury if they suffered it to go out. These 

1 Douglas Hyde, op. cit. pp. 1 69- fell through the crash of a mighty wind. 

171. At Kelly, also, St. Columba And a certain man took somewhat of 

dwelt under a great oak-tree. The its bark to tan his shoes with. Now, 

writer of his Irish life, quoted by Mr. when he did on the shoes, he was 

Hyde, says that the oak-tree "re- smitten with leprosy from his sole to 

mained till these latter times, when it his crown." 


wives of virgins were regarded as the wives of the Sun, and they 
Peru" 11 m were bound to perpetual chastity. If any of them proved 
unfaithful to her husband the Sun, she was buried alive, like 
a Roman Vestal, and her paramour was strangled. The 
reason for putting her to death in this manner was prob- 
ably, as at Rome, a reluctance to shed royal blood ; for all 
these virgins were of the royal family, being daughters of 
the Incas or of his kinsmen. Besides tending the holy fire, 
they had to weave and make all the clothes worn by the 
Inca and his legitimate wife, to bake the bread that was 
offered to the Sun at his great festivals, and to brew the 
wine which the Inca and his family drank on these occa- 
sions. All the furniture of the convent, down to the pots, 
pans, and jars, were of gold and silver, just as in the temple 
of the Sun, because the virgins were deemed to be his wives. 
And they had a golden garden, where the very clods were 
of fine gold ; where golden maize reared its stalks, leaves 
and cobs, all of the precious metal ; and where golden 
shepherds, with slings and crooks of gold, tended golden 
sheep and lambs. 1 The analogy of these virgin guardians 

1 Garcilasso de la Vega, Royal Com- whose book, or rather the first part of 
mentaries of the Yncas, pt. i. bk. iv. it, containing the statement, was pub- 
chaps. 1-3, bk. vi. chaps. 20-22 lished more than fifty years before that 
(vol. i. pp. 292-299, vol. ii. pp. 155- of Garcilasso. Moreover, when we 
164, Markham's translation) ; P. de understand that the punishment in 
Cieza de Leon, Travels, p. 134 (Mark- question was based on a superstition 
ham's translation) ; id. , Second Part of which occurs independently in many 
the Chronicle of Peru, pp. 85 sg. (Mark- parts of the world, the apparent im- 
ham's translation) ; Acosta, Natural probability of the coincidence vanishes. 
and Moral History of the Indies, bk. As to the mode of kindling the sacred 
v. chap. 15 (vol. ii. pp. 331-333, fire, Professor Tylor understands Plu- 
Hakluyt Society). Professor E. B. tarch to say that the sacred fire at 
Tylor discredits Garcilasso's description Rome was kindled, as in Peru, by a 
of these Peruvian priestesses on the burning-glass. To me it seems that 
ground that it resembles Plutarch's Plutarch is here speaking of a Greek, 
account of the Roman Vestals (Numa, not a Roman usage, and this is made 
9 stf.) too closely to be independent ; still clearer when his text is read cor- 
he thinks that " the apparent traces of rectly. For the words inrb MiJSwc, 
absorption from Plutarch invalidate irepi 5 ra Mi0pi5tctTtKd should be altered 
whatever rests on Garcilasso de la Vega's to virb M.alSui> irtpl ret MiffpidtariKii. See 
unsupported testimony." See his Re- H. Pomtow in Rheinisches Museum, 
searches into the Early History of Man- N.F. Ii. (1896) p. 365, and my note 
kind, 3 pp. 249-253. In particular, he on Pausanias, x. 19. 4 (vol. v. p. 
stumbles at the statement that an un- 331). Thus Plutarch gives two in- 
faithful Peruvian priestess was buried stances when a sacred fire was extin- 
alive. But that statement was made guished and had to be relit with a 
by Cieza de Leon, who travelled in burning-glass ; but both instances are 
Peru when Garcilasso was a child, and Greek, neither is Roman. The Greek 




of the sacred flame furnishes an argument in favour of the 
view set forth in the preceding pages ; for if the Peruvian 
Vestals were the brides of the Sun, may not the Roman 
Vestals have been the brides of the Fire ? 

On the summit of the great pyramidal temple at Mexico virgin 
two fires burned continually on stone hearths in front of two o^^ 6 
chapels, and dreadful misfortunes were supposed to follow if Mexico 
the fires were allowed to go out. They were kept up by Yucatan, 
priests and maidens, some of whom had taken a vow of per- 
petual virginity. But most of these girls seem to have served 
only for a year or more until their marriage. They offered 
incense to the idols, wove cloths for the service of the temple, 
swept the sacred area, and baked the cakes which were pre- 
sented to the gods but eaten by their priests. They were 
clad all in white, without any ornament. A broom and a 
censer were their emblems. Death was the penalty inflicted 
on the faithless virgin who polluted by her incontinence the 
temple of the god. 1 In Yucatan there was an order of 

mode of lighting a sacred fire by means 
of a crystal is described also in the 
Orphic poem on precious stones, verses 
177 sqq. (Orphica, ed. E. Abel, p. 
115). Nor were the Greeks and 
Peruvians peculiar in this respect. 
The Siamese and Chinese have also 
been in the habit of kindling a sacred 
fire by means of a metal mirror or 
burning-glass. See Pallegoix, Descrip- 
tion du royaume ThaiouSiam, ii. 55; A. 
Bastian, Die Volker des ostlichen Asien, 
iii. 516; J. H. Plath, "Die Religion 
und der Cultus der alien Chinesen," 
Abhandlungen der k. bayer. Akademie 
aer Wissen. i. Cl. ix. (1863) pp. 876 sq. 
Again, the full description of the golden 
garden of the Peruvian Vestals, which 
may sound to us fabulous, is given 
by Cieza de Leon in a work (the 
Second Part of the Chronicle of Peru) 
which it is unlikely that Garcilasso 
ever saw, since it was not printed till 
1873, centuries after his death. Yet 
Garcilasso's brief description of the 
garden agrees closely with that of 
Cieza de Leon, differing from it just as 
that of an independent witness naturally 
would namely, in the selection of 
some other details in addition to those 
which the two have in common. He 

says that the virgins "had a garden of 
trees, plants, herbs, birds and beasts, 
made of gold and silver, like that in 
the temple " (vol. i. p. 298, Mark- 
ham's translation). Thus the two 
accounts are probably independent and 
therefore trustworthy, for a fiction of 
this kind could hardly have occurred to 
two romancers separately. A strong 
confirmation of Garcilasso's fidelity is 
furnished by the close resemblance 
which the fire customs, both of Rome 
and Peru, present to the well-authen- 
ticated fire customs of the Herero at 
the present day. There seems to be 
every reason to think that all three 
sets of customs originated indepen- 
dently in the simple needs and super- 
stitious fancies of the savage. On the 
whole, I see no reason to question the 
good faith and accuracy of Garcilasso. 

1 B. de Sahagun, Histoire des chases 
de la Nouvelle Espagne, pp. 196 so:., 
386 ; Acosta, Natural and Moral 
History of the Indies, bk. v. ch. 1 5 
(vol. ii. pp. 333 sq,, Hakluyt Society) ; 
A. de Herrera, General History of the 
vast Continent and Islands of America, 
iii. 209 sq., Stevens's translation 
(London, 1725, 1726); Clavigero, 
History of Mexico, i. 264, 274 sq. 


Vestals instituted by a princess, who acted as lady-superior 
and was deified after her death under the' title of the Virgin 
of the Fire. The members enrolled themselves voluntarily 
either for life or for a term of years, after which they might 
marry. Their duty was to tend the sacred fire, the emblem 
of the sun. If they broke their vow of chastity or allowed 
the fire to go out, they were shot to death with arrows. 1 
virgin Amongst the Baganda of Central Africa there used to 

of'nre 65565 k an order of Vestal Virgins (bakajd) who were attached 
among the to the temples of the gods. Their duties were to keep the 
Baganda. ^ Q Q ^g g O d burning all night, to see that there was a 
good supply of firewood, and to watch that the suppliants 
did not bring to the deity anything that was tabooed to 
him. These maidens are also said to have had charge of 
some of the vessels. All of them were young girls ; no 
man might touch them ; and when they reached the age of 
puberty, the god ordered them to be given in marriage. 
The place of a girl who thus vacated office had to be 
supplied by another girl taken from the same clan. 2 
Resem- We have seen that some people commit the task of 

between making fire by friction to married men ; and following the 
the Fiamen opinion of other scholars I have conjectured that in some of 
the 1S tne Latin tribes the duty of kindling and feeding the sacred 
Romans fi re ma y have been assigned to the Fiamen Dialis, who had 
Agnihotri always to be married ; if his wife died, he vacated his office. 3 
The sanctity of his fire is proved by the rule that no brand 
of the might be taken from his house except for the purpose of a 

Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire des Folk-lore of ~YMCz.i3.n,"Folk-!orefournal, 

nations civilistes du Mexique et de i. (1883) pp. 247 sq. 
PAmMque Centrale, i. 289, iii. 66 1 ; 2 Letter of the Rev. J. Roscoe, 

H. H. Bancroft, Native Races of the dated Kampala, Uganda, gth April 

Pacific States, ii. 204 sqq., 245, 583, 1909. 

iii. 435 sq. However, Sahagun 3 Aulus Gellius, x. 15. 22; Ateius 

(pp. 186, 194), Acosta (vol. ii. p. 336) Capito, cited by Plutarch, Quaest. 

and Herrera seem to imply that the Rom. 50. On the other hand, Servius 

duty of maintaining the sacred fire was on Virgil, Aen. iv. 29, says that the 

discharged by men only. Fiamen might marry another wife after 

the death of the first. But the state- 

1 Brasseur de Bourbourg, op. cit. ment of Aulus Gellius and Ateius 

ii. 6 ; H. H. Bancroft, op. cit. iii. 473. Capito is confirmed by other evidence. 

Fire-worship seems to have lingered See J. Marquardt, Romische Staatsvcr- 

among the Indians of Yucatan down -waltung, iii. 2 329, note 8. As to the 

to about the middle of the nineteenth rule see my note, " The Widowed 

century, and it may still survive among Fiamen, "Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 

them. See D. G. Brinton, "The Edition, pp. 407 sqq. 


sacrifice. 1 Further, the importance ascribed to the discharge 
of his duties is attested by another old rule which forbade 
him to be absent from his house in Rome for a single 
night. 2 The prohibition would be intelligible if one of his 
duties had formerly been to superintend the maintenance of 
a perpetual fire. However that may have been, the life of 
the priest was regulated by a whole code of curious restric- 
tions or taboos, which rendered the office so burdensome 
and vexatious that, in spite of the high honours attached 
to the post, for a period of more than seventy years to- 
gether no man was found willing to undertake it. 3 Some 
of these restrictions will be examined later on. 4 Their 
similarity to the rules of life still observed in India by 
the Brahmans who are fire-priests (Agnihotris} seems to The 
confirm the view that the Flamen also was originally a fire- ^f%** 
priest. The parallel between the two priesthoods would be priests of 
all the more remarkable if, as some scholars hold, the very * r 
names Brahman and Flamen are philologically identical. 5 
As to these Brahmanical fire-priests or Agnihotris we are 
told that the number of them nowadays is very limited, 
because the ceremonies involve heavy expenditure, and the 
rules which regulate them are very elaborate and difficult. 
The offering of food to the fire at meals is, indeed, one of the 
five daily duties of every Brahman ; but the regular fire- 
service is the special duty of the Agnihotri. In order that 
he may be ceremonially pure he is bound by certain obliga- 
tions not to travel or remain away from home for any long 
time ; to sell nothing which is produced by himself or his 

1 Aulus Gellius, x. 15.7; Festus, P. Kretschmer, Einleitttng in die 
p. 1 06, ed. C. O. Muller. Geschichte der griechischen Sprache 

2 Livy, v. 52. 13 sj. In later times (Gottingen, 1896), pp. 127 sqq. ; O. 
the rule was so far relaxed that he was Schrader, Reallexikon der indogerma- 
allowed to be absent from Rome for nischen Altertumskunde, pp. 6 3 7 *f. 
two nights or even longer, provided he For a different derivation of the name 
got leave from the chief pontiff on the Flamen see above ' P- 2 3S- Bein g no 
score of ill-health. See Aulus Gellius, phHologer, I do not pretend to decide 
x. 15. 14; Tacitus, Annals, iii. 71. between the rival etymologies My 

friend Prof. J. H. Moulton prefers the 

3 Tacitus, Annals, iii. 58 ; Dio equation Flamen = Brahman, which 
Cassius, liv. -36. As to the honours he tells me is philologically correct, 
attached to the office, see Livy, xxvii. because if Flamen came from flare we 
8. 8 ; Plutarch, Quaeit. Rom. 113. should expect a form Hkeyfa^r rather 

4 See The Golden Bough, Second than flamen. The form flator was 
Edition, i. 241 sqq. used in Latin, though not in this sense. 




or fire- 
of the 

Mode in 
which the 
fresh fire 
by the 
friction of 

family ; to pay little attention to worldly affairs ; to speak 
the truth ; to bathe and worship the deities in the afternoon 
as well as in the morning ; and to sacrifice to his deceased 
ancestors on the fifteenth of every month. He is not 
allowed to take food at night. He may not eat alkaline 
salt, meat, honey, and inferior grain, such as some varieties 
of pulse, millet, and the egg plant. He never wears shoes 
nor sleeps on a bed, but always on the ground. He is 
expected to keep awake most of the night and to study the 
Shastras. He may have no connexion with, nor unholy 
thoughts regarding, any woman but his wife ; and he must 
abstain from every other act that involves personal impurity. 1 
With these rules we may compare some of the obligations 
laid on the Flamen Dialis. In the old days, as we saw, he 
was bound never to be absent from his house for a single 
night He might not touch or even name raw meat, beans, 
ivy, and a she-goat ; he might not eat leavened bread, nor 
touch a dead body ; and the feet of his bed had always to 
be smeared with mud. 2 This last rule seems to be a mitiga- 
tion of an older custom of sleeping on the ground, a custom 
which is still observed by the fire-priest in India, as it was 
in antiquity by the priests of Zeus at Dodona. 8 Similarly 
the priest of the old Prussian god Potrimpo was bound to 
sleep on the bare earth for three nights before he sacrificed 
to the deity. 4 

Every Agnihotri has a separate room in his house where 
the sacred fire is kept burning in a small pit of a cubit 
square. Should the fire chance to go out, the priest must 
get fresh fire from another priest or procure it by the 
friction of fire-sticks (arani). These comprise, first, a block 
of sami wood (Prosopts spicigera) in which a small hole is 
made emblematical of the female principle (sakti yoni} y and, 
second, an upright shaft which is made to revolve in the 

1 W. Crooke, The Tribes and Castes 
of the North- Western Provinces and 
Oudh, i. 30-32. Compare Monier 
Williams, Religious Thought and Life 
in India, pp. 364, 365, 392. 

2 Aulus Gellius, x. 15. 

3 Homer, Iliad, xvi. 233-235 ; 
Sophocles, Trachiniae, 1166 sq. ; 

Callimachus, Hymn to Delos, 284-286. 
* Ch. Hartknoch, Selectae disserta- 
t tones historicae de variis rebus 
Prussicis, p. 163 (bound up with his 
edition of Dusburg's Chronicon 
Prussiae, Frankfort and Leipsic, 
1679) ; Simon Grunau, Preussischer 
Chronik, ed. M. Perlbach, i. (Leipsic, 
1876) p. 95. 


hole of the block by means of a rope. The point in the 
drill where the rope is applied to cause it to revolve is called 
deva yoni. Two priests take part in the operation. Before 
they begin they sing a hymn in honour of the fire-god Agni. 
When the fire has been kindled they place it in a copper 
vessel and sprinkle it with powdered cow-dung. When it 
is well alight, they cover it with another copper vessel, 
sprinkle it with drops of water, and sing another hymn in 
honour of Agni. Finally, the new fire is consigned to the 
fire-pit. 1 According to another description of the modern 
Indian fire-drill, the lower block is usually made of the hard 
wood of the khadira or khair tree (Acacia catechu], and it 
contains two shallow holes. In one of these holes the 
revolving drill works and produces sparks by friction ; the 
other hole contains tinder which is ignited by means of the 
sparks. This latter hole is known as the yoni, the female 
organ of generation. The upper or revolving portion of the 
drill is called the pramantha. It consists of a round shaft 
of hard wood, with a spike of softer wood inserted in its 
lower end. One priest causes the shaft to revolve by 
pulling a cord, while another priest presses the spike down 
into the hole in the block by leaning hard upon a flat board 
placed on the top of the shaft. The spike is generally 
made of the peepul or sacred fig-tree. When it has become 
charred by friction, it is replaced by another. 2 According to 
one account, the fire is made in this fashion, not by two 
priests, but by the Brahman and his wife ; she pulls the 
cord, while he holds the borer in the hole and recites the 
spells necessary for the production of the fire. 3 

This practice of the modern Agnihotri or fire-priest of The Indian 
India is in general accord with the precepts laid down in ^d^from 
the ancient sacred books of his religion. For these direct the sacred 
that the upper or male stick of the fire-drill should be made 
of the sacred fig-tree (asvattha\ and the lower or female 
stick of sami wood (Prosopis spicigerd) ; and they draw out 
the analogy between the process of fire-making and the 
intercourse of the sexes in minute detail. 4 It deserves to be 

1 W. Crooke, op. cit. \. 31-33. 3 J. C. Nesfield, in Panjab Notes and 

9 W. Crooke, Popular Religion and Queries, ii. p. 12, 77. 

Folk-lore of Northern India (West- * Rigveda, iii. 29, translated by 

minster, 1896), ii. 194^. R.T. H. Griffith (Benares, 1889-1892), 



The male 
made by 
from a 
sacred fig- 
tree grow- 
ing as a 
on the 
sami tree. 

noted that the male fire-stick was cut by preference from a 
sacred fig-tree which grew as a parasite on a sami or female 
tree. The reason for this preference is obvious to the 
primitive mind. A parasite clasping a tree with its tendrils 
is conceived as a man embracing a woman, hence a pair of 
fire-sticks made from a pair of trees thus interlaced will 
naturally possess the power of procreating fire by friction in 
an unusually high degree. 1 So completely, in the Hindoo 
mind, does the process of making fire by friction blend with 
the union of the human sexes that it is actually employed 
as part of a charm to procure male offspring. 2 Such a con- 
fusion of thought helps us to understand the part played by 
the domestic fire in the ritual of marriage and birth as well 
as in the legends of the miraculous origin of the Latin 
kings. 3 In ancient India the male and the female fire-stick 
were identified with King Pururavas and the nymph Urvasi, 
whose loves and sorrows formed the theme of a beautiful 
tale. 4 

vol. ii. pp. 25-27; SatapathaBrdhmana, 
translated by J. Eggeling, parti, p. 389, 
note 3, part ii. pp. 90 sq., part v. pp. 
68-74 5 Hymns of the Atharva-Veda, 
translated by M. Bloomfield, pp. 91, 97 
sq.> 334, 460; W. Caland, Altindisches 
Zauberritual, pp. 115 sq.- ', A. Kuhn, 
Herabkimft des Feuers, 2 pp. 40, 64-78, 
183-185 ; II. Zimmer, Altindisches 
Leben, pp. 58, 59. The sami wood 
is sometimes identified with the Acacia 
Siima (Mimosa Suma) ; but the modern 
Bengalee name of Prosopis spicigera is 
shami or somi, which seems to be con- 
clusive evidence of the identity of 
Prosopis spicigera with sami. The 
Prosopis spicigera is a deciduous thorny 
tree of moderate size, which grows in 
the arid zones of the Punjaub, Raj- 
putana, Gujarat, Bundelcund, and the 
Deccan. The heart of the wood is of 
a purplish brown colour and extremely 
hard. It is especially valued for fuel, 
as it gives out much heat. See G. 
Watt, Dictionary of the Economic 
Products of India, s.v. "Prosopis 
spicigera." For a reference to this 
work I am indebted to the kindness of 
the late Professor H. Marshall Ward. 
1 A. Kuhn, op. at. pp. 40, 66, 175. 

2 Hymns of the Atharva-Veda, trans- 
lated by M. Bloomfield, pp. 97 sq., 
460 ; W. Caland, Altindisches Zauber- 
ritual, pp. 115 sq. 

3 See above, pp. 195 sqq., 230 sqq. 

4 Rigveda, x. 95, translated by R_ 
T. H. Griffith, Satapatha Brahmana, 
translated by J. Eggeling, part v. 
pp. 68-74. Compare H. Oldenberg, 
Die Literattir des alten Indien (Stutt- 
gart and Berlin, 1903), pp. 53-55. On 
the story see A. Kuhn, Herabkunft des 
Feuers? pp. 71 sqq. ; F. Max Miiller 
Selected Essays on Language, Religion, 
and Mythology (London, 1881), i. 408 
sqq, ; Andrew Lang, Custom and 
Myth (London, 1884), pp. 64 sqq. ; 
K. F. Pischel and Geldner, Vedische 
Studien, i. (Stuttgart, 1889), pp. 243- 
295. It belongs to the group of 
tales which describe the marriage of 
a human with an animal mate, of 
a mortal with a fairy, and often, 
though not always, their unhappy 
parting. The story seems to have its 
roots in totemism. See my Totemism 
and Exogamy, ii. 566 sqq. It will be 
illustrated more at length in a later 
part of The Golden Bough. 


Like the ancient Indians, the Greeks seem to have TheGreeks 
preferred that one of the two fire-sticks should be made from 

a parasitic or creeping plant. They recommended that the make one 
borer of the fire-drill should be made of laurel and the board 

of ivy or another creeper, apparently a kind of wild vine a parasitic 
which grew like ivy upon trees ; but in practice both the 
borer and the board were sometimes made of other woods, 
among which buckthorn, the evergreen oak, and the lime are 
particularly mentioned. 1 When we consider the analogy of The reason 
the Indian preference for a borer made from a parasite, and preference 
remember how deeply rooted in the primitive mind is the is the 
comparison of the friction of the fire-sticks to the union 
of the sexes, we shall hardly doubt that the Greeks originally of the 


chose the ivy or wild vine for a fire-stick from motives of 
the sort which led the Hindoos to select the wood of a 
parasitic fig-tree for the same . purpose. But while the 
Hindoos regarded the parasite as male and the tree to which 
it clung as female, the Greeks of Theophrastus's time seem 
to have inverted this conception, since they recommended 
that the board, which plays the part of the female in the 
fire-drill, should be made of ivy or another creeper, whereas 
the borer, which necessarily represents the male, was to be 
fashioned out of laurel. This would imply that the ivy was 
a female and the laurel a male. Yet in Greek, on the con- 
trary, the word for ivy is masculine, and the plant was 
identified mythologically with the male god Dionysus ; 2 
whereas the word for laurel is feminine and the tree was 
identified with a nymph. Hence we may conjecture that at 
first the Greeks, like the Hindoos, regarded the clinging 

1 Homer, Hymn to Mercury, 108- pares it to a vine. Pliny (I.e.) seems 

in (where a line has been lost ; see to have identified it with a species of 

the note of Messrs. Allen and Sikes) ; wild vine. According to Sprengel, 

Theophrastus, Histor. plant, v. 9. 6 ; the athragene is the Clematis cirrhosa 

id., De igne, ix. 64; Hesychius, s.v. of Linnaeus, the French climatite a 

ffropevs ; Schol. on Apollonius Rhodius, vrilles. See Dioscorides, ed. C. 

Argon, i. 1184; Pliny, Nat. Hist. Sprengel, vol. ii. p. 641. As to the 

xvi. 208 ; Seneca, Nat. Quaest. ii. kinds of wood employed by the 

22; A. Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers, 2 Romans in kindling fire we have no 

PP- 35-4 1 J H. Blumner, Technologic certain evidence, as Pliny and Seneca 

und Terminologic der Gewerbe und may have merely copied from Theo- 

Kiinste, ii. 354-356. Theophrastus phrastus. 
gives the name of athragene to the 

plant which, next to or equally with 2 Pausanias, i. 31. 6, with my 

ivy, makes the best board j he com- note. 


Ancient creeper as the male and the tree which it embraced as the 
'' female, and that of old, therefore, they made the borer of the 
fire-drill out of ivy and the board out of laurel. If this was 
so, the reasons which led them to reverse the usage can only 
be guessed at. Perhaps practical convenience had a share 
in bringing about the change. For the laurel is, as the late 
Professor H.Marshall Ward kindly informed me,a harder wood 
than the ivy, and to judge by general, though not universal, 
practice most people find it easier to make fire by the 
friction of a hard borer on a soft board than by rubbing a 
hard board with a soft point. This, therefore, would be a 
reason for making the borer of laurel and the board of ivy. If 
such a change took place in the history of the Greek fire-drill, 
it would be an interesting example of superstition modified, if 
not vanquished, by utility in the struggle for existence. 



WHATEVER superstitions may have gathered about it in The 
the course of ages, the custom of maintaining a perpetual cus ' om . of 

r r mamtain- 

fire probably sprang from a simple consideration of practical ing a per- 

convenience. The primitive mode of making fire by the 
friction of wood is laborious at all times, and it is especially originated 
so in wet weather. Hence the savage finds it convenient to 

keep a fire constantly burning or smouldering in order to making fire 
spare himself the troubling of kindling it. This convenience * 

Some races 

becomes a necessity with people who do not know how to said to be 
make fire. That there have been such tribes down to our 'g 110 111 

of the 

own time is affirmed by witnesses whose evidence we have means of 
no reason to doubt. Thus Mr. E. H. Man, who resided 
eleven years in the Andaman Islands and was intimately 
acquainted with the natives, tells us that, being ignorant of 
the art of making fire, they take the utmost pains to prevent 
its extinction. When they leave a camp intending to 
return in a few days, they not only take with them one or 
more smouldering logs, wrapped in leaves if the weather be 
wet, but they also place a large burning log or faggot of 
suitable wood in some sheltered spot, where it smoulders for 
several days and can be easily rekindled when it is needed. 
While it is the business of the women to gather the wood, 
the duty of keeping up the fires both at home and in 
travelling by land or sea is not confined to them, but is 
undertaken by persons of either sex who have most leisure 
or are least burdened. 1 The Russian traveller, Baron 

1 E. H. Man, On the Aboriginal In- don, N. D.), p. 82. Mr. Man's evidence 
habitants of the Andaman Islands (Lon- is confirmed by a German traveller, 




Miklucho-Maclay, who lived among the natives of the 
Maclay coast of northern New Guinea at a time when they 
had hardly come into contact with Europeans, writes : "It 
is remarkable that here almost all the inhabitants of the 
coast possess no means whatever of making fire, hence they 
always and everywhere carry burning or glowing brands 
about with them. If they go in the morning to the 
plantation they carry a half-burnt brand from their hearth 
in order to kindle a fire at the corner of the plantation. If 
they go on a longer journey into the mountains, they again 
take fire with them for the purpose of smoking, since their 
cigars, wrapped in green leaves, continually go out. On 
sea voyages they usually keep glowing coals in a half- 
broken pot partly filled with earth. The people who remain 
behind in the village never forget to keep up the fire." 
They repeatedly told him that they had often to go to other 
villages to fetch fire when the fires in all the huts of their 
own village had chanced to go out. Yet the same traveller 
tells us that the mountain tribes of this part of New Guinea, 
such as the Englam-Mana and Tiengum-Mana, know how 
to make fire by friction. They partially cleave a log of dry 
wood with a stone axe and then draw a stout cord, formed 
of a split creeper, rapidly to and fro in the cleft, till sparks 
fly out and set fire to a tinder of dry coco-nut fibres. 1 It is 

Mr. Jagor, who says of the Andaman 
Islanders: "The fire must never go 
out. Here also I am again assured 
that the Andamanese have no means of 
making fire." See Verhandlungen der 
Berliner Gesellschaft fur Anthropologie, 
1877, p. (54) (bound with Zeitschrift 
fur Ethnologic, ix. ). I regret that on 
this subject I did not question Mr. 
A. R. Brown, Fellow of Trinity College, 
Cambridge, who resided for about two 
years among the Andaman Islanders, 
studying their customs and beliefs. 
Mr. Brown is now (December 1910) in 
West Australia. . 

1 N. von Miklucho-Maclay, " Eth- 
nologische Bemerkungen liber die 
Papuas der Maclay-Kiiste in Neu- 
Guinea," Natuurkundig Tijdschrift 
voor Nederlandsch Indie, xxxv. (1875), 
pp. 82. 83. Compare C. Hager, 
Kaiser Wilhelms-Land und der Bis- 

niarck-Archipel, p. 69 ; M. Krieger, 
Neu-Guinea, p. 153. The natives of 
the Maclay Coast are said to have 
traditions of a time when they were 
ignorant even of the use of fire ; they 
ate fruits raw, which set up a disease 
of the gums, filling their mouths with 
blood ; they had a special name for 
the disease. See N. von Miklucho- 
Maclay, in Verhandlungen der Berliner 
Gesellschaft fur Anthropologie, 1882, 
p. (577) (bound with Zeitschrift fur 
Ethnologic, xiv.). The reports of 
people living in ignorance of the use 
of fire have hitherto proved, on closer 
examination, to be fables. See E. B. 
Tylor, Researches into the Early His- 
tory of Mankind? pp. 229 sqq. The 
latest repetition of the story that I 
know of is by an American naturalist, 
Mr. Titian R. Peale, who confirms the 
exploded statement that down to 1841 


odd that the people of the coast should not have learned Tribes re- 
this mode of producing fire from their neighbours in the 
mountains. The Russian explorer's observations, however, of the 
have been confirmed by German writers. One of them, a 
Mr. Hoffmann, says of these people : " In every house care fire. 
is taken that fire burns day and night on the hearth. For 
this purpose they choose a kind of wood which burns slowly, 
but glimmers for a long time and retains its glow. When 
a man sets out on a journey or goes to the field he has 
always a glimmering brand with him. If he wishes to make 
fire, he waves the smouldering wood to and fro till it bursts 
into a glow." On frequented paths, crossways, and so forth, 
you may often see trunks of trees lying which have been 
felled for the purpose of being ignited and furnishing fire to 
passers-by. Such trees continue to smoulder foi weeks. 1 
Similarly the dwarf tribes of Central Africa " do not know 
how to kindle a fire quickly, and in order to get one readily 
at any moment they keep the burning trunks of fallen trees 
in suitable spots, and watch over their preservation like the 
Vestals of old." 2 It seems to be at least doubtful whether 
these dwarfs of the vast and gloomy equatorial forests are 
acquainted with the art of making fire at all. A German 
traveller observes that the care which they take to preserve 
fire is extremely remarkable. " It appears," he says, " that 
the pygmies, as other travellers have reported, do not know 
how to kindle fire by rubbing sticks against each other. 
Like the Wambuba of the forest, in leaving a camp, they take 
with them a thick glowing brand, and carry it, often for hours, 
in order to light a fire at their next halting place." 3 

Whether or not tribes ignorant of the means of making 
fire have survived to modern times, it seems likely that man- 
kind possessed and used fire long before they learned how to 

the natives of Bowditch Island had 157. Another writer says that these 

not seen fire. See The American dwarfs " keep fire alight perpetually, 

Naturalist, xviii. (1884) pp. 229-232. starting it in some large tree, which 

1 B. Hagen, Unter den Papuas goes on smouldering for months at a 
(Wiesbaden, 1899), pp. 203^. Mr. time" (Captain Guy Burrows, The 
Hagen's account applies chiefly to the Land of the Pigmies (London, 1 898), 
natives of Astrolabe Bay. He tells us p. 199). 

that for the most part they now use 

Swedish matches. 3 F. Stuhlmann, Mit Emin Pascha 

2 G. Casati, Ten Years in Equatoria ins Herz von Afrika (Berlin, 1894), 
(London and New York, 1891), i. pp. 451 sq. 


Fire kindle it. In the violent thunderstorms which accompany 

kindled by ^ enc j Q f ^g ^j-y season m Central and Eastern Africa, it 

natural ' 

causes was is not uncommon for the lightning to strike and ignite a 

probably tf f rom w hich the fire soon spreads to the withered herb- 
used by * 

men long age, till a great conflagration is started. From a source of 
learned^o 3 ^is sort a savage tribe may have first obtained fire, and the 
make it for same thing may have happened independently in many parts 
s> of the world. 1 Other people, perhaps, procured fire from 
volcanoes, the lava of which will, under favourable circum- 
stances, remain hot enough to kindle shavings of wood years 
after an eruption has taken place. 2 Others again may have 
lit their first fire at the jets of inflammable gas which spring 
from the ground in various parts of the world, notably at 
Baku on the Caspian, where the flames burn day and night, 
summer and winter, to a height of fifteen or twenty feet. 3 It 
is harder to conjecture how man first learned the great 
secret of making fire by friction. The discovery was perhaps 
made by jungle or forest races, who saw dry bamboos or 
branches thus ignited by rubbing against each other in a 
high wind. Fires are sometimes started in this way in the 
forests of New Zealand. 4 It has also been suggested that 

1 Sir Harry H. Johnston, British bodia such fire is carefully preserved 

Central Africa (London, 1897), p. and used to light the funeral pyres of 

439 ; id., The Uganda Protectorate kings and others. See Pallegoix, 

(London, 1902), ii. 540. If we may Description du royaume Thai on 

trust Diodorus Siculus (i. 13. 3), this Siam, i. 248; J. Moura, Le Royaume 

was the origin of fire alleged by the du Cambodge, i. 360. 
Egyptian priests. Among the Winam- 3 Oscar Peschel, Vb'lkerkunde 6 

wanga and Wiwa tribes of East Africa, (Leipsic, 1885), p. 138. Mr. Man 

to the south of Lake Tanganyika, thinks it likely that the Andaman 

" when lightning sets fire to a tree, all Islanders got their fire from one of the 

the fires in a village are put out, and two volcanoes which exist in their 

fireplaces freshly plastered, while the island (On the Aboriginal Inhabitants 

head men take the fire to the chief, of the Andaman Islands, p. 82). The 

who prays over it. It is then sent Creek Indians of North America have 

to all his villages, the people of the a tradition that some of their ancestors 

villages rewarding his messengers." procured fire from a volcano. See 

See Dr. J. A. Chisholm, ' ' Notes on A. S. Gatschet, A Migration Legend of 

the Manners and Customs of the the Creek Indians, ii. (St. Louis, 1888) 

Winamwanga and Wiwa," Journal of p. 1 1 [43]. 

the African Society, No. 36 (July 3 O. Peschel, loc. cit. As to the 

1910), p. 363. The Parsees ascribe fires of Baku see further, Adonis, 

peculiar sanctity to fire which has Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, p. 159. 
been obtained from a tree struck 4 R. Taylor, Te Ika A Maui, or 

by lightning. See D. J. Karaka, New Zealand and its Inhabitants,* 

History of the Modern Parsis (London, p. 367 ; W. Crooke, Popular Religion 

1884), ii. 213. In Siam and Cam- and Folk-lore of Northern India 


savages may have accidentally elicited a flame for the first 
time in the process of chipping flints over dry moss, or boring 
holes with hard sticks in soft wood. 1 

But even when the art of fire-making has been acquired, Many 
the process itself is so laborious that many savages keep fire ^ryfire 
always burning rather than be at the trouble of extracting it constantly 
by friction. This, for example, was true of the roving 
Australian aborigines before they obtained matches from the ofc . on - 
whites. On their wanderings they carried about with them 
pieces of smouldering bark or cones of the Banksia tree 
wherewith to kindle their camp fires. 2 The duty of thus 
transporting fire from one place to another seems commonly 
to have fallen to the women. " A stick, a piece of decayed 
wood, or more often the beautiful seed-stem of the Banksia, 
is lighted at the fire the woman is leaving ; and from her 
bag, which, in damp weather, she would keep filled with dry 
cones, or from materials collected in the forest, she would 
easily, during her journey, preserve the fire got at the last 
encampment." 3 Another writer tells us that the Australian 
native always had his fire-stick with him, and if his wife let 
it go out, so much the worse for her. The dark brown 
velvety-looking core of the Banksia is very retentive of fire 
and burns slowly, so that one of these little fire-sticks would 
last a considerable time, and a bag of them would suffice for 
a whole day. 4 The Tasmanians knew how to make fire 

(Westminster, 1896), ii. 194; A. Kahn, autour du monde et ci la recherche de 

Herabkunft des Fetters* pp. 92, 102. la Perouse, i. (Paris, 1832) pp. 95, 

Lucretius thought that the first fire was 194 ; Scott Nind, " Description of the 

procured either from lightning or from Natives of King George's Sound," 

the mutual friction of trees in a high Journal of the Royal Geographical 

v/ind(Dererumnatura,v. 1091-1101). Society, i. (1832) p. 26; E. J. Eyre, 

The latter source was preferred by Journals of Expeditions of Discovery 

Vitruvius (De architectura, ii. I. i). into Central Australia, ii. 357 ; A. Old- 

1 Sir Harry H. Johnston, Pro- field, "The Aborigines of Australia," 
fessor K. von den Steinen conjectures Transactions of the Ethnological 
that savages, who already possessed Society of London, N.S., iii. (1865) 
fire, and were wont to use tinder to pp. 283 sq. ; J. Dawson, Australian 
nurse a smouldering brand into a Aborigines, p. 15 ; Annales de la 
blaze, may have accidentally discovered Propagation de la Foi, xvii. (1845) 
the mode of kindling fire in an pp. 76 sq. 

attempt to make tinder by rubbing 3 R. Brough Smyth, The Aborigines 

two dry sticks or reeds against each of Victoria, i. 396. 

other. See K. von den Steinen, * R. Taylor, Te Ika A Alaui, or 

Unter den Naturvolkern Zentral- New Zealand and its Inhabitants,* 

Rrasiliens, pp. 219-228. p. 567. Other writers confirm the 

2 J. Dumont D'Urville, Voyage statement that the carrying of the 


Fire by twirling the point of a stick in a piece of soft bark ; 

camed by , ^ t j t difficult at times to obtain fire by this means, 

savages for * 

the sake especially in wet weather, they generally, in their peregri- 
venience nations, carried with them a fire-stick lighted at their last 
encampment." l With them, as with the Australians, it was 
the special task of the women to keep the fire-brand alight 
and to carry it from place to place. 2 When the natives of 
Materbert, off New Britain, are on a voyage they carry fire 
with them. For this purpose they press some of the soft 
fibrous husk of the ripe coco-nut into a coco-nut shell, and 
then place a red-hot ember in the middle of it. This will 
smoulder for three or four days, and from it they obtain a 
light for their fires wherever they may land. 3 The Poly- 
nesians made fire by the friction of wood, rubbing a score in 
a board with a sharp-pointed stick till the dust so produced 
kindled into sparks, which were caught in a tinder of dry 
leaves or grass. While they rubbed, they chanted a prayer 
or hymn till the fire appeared. But in wet weather the task 
of fire-making was laborious, so at such times the natives 
usually carried fire about with them in order to avoid 
the trouble of kindling it. 4 The Fuegians make fire by 
striking two lumps of iron pyrites together and letting 
the sparks fall on birds' down or on dry moss, which 
serves as tinder. But rather than be at the pains of doing 
this they carry fire with them everywhere, both by sea and 
land, taking great care to prevent its extinction. 5 The 
Caingua Indians of Paraguay make fire in the usual way by 
the fire-drill, but to save themselves trouble they keep fire 

fire - sticks is the special duty of both by the friction of wood and by 

the women. See W. Stanbridge, striking flints together. 

" On the Aborigines of Victoria," 2 Mr. Dove, quoted by James Bon- 

Transactions of the Ethnological Society wick, Daily Life and Origin of the 

of London, N. S., i. (1861) p. 291 ; Tasmanians, p. 20. 

J. F. Mann, " Notes on the Aborigines 3 Wilfred Powell, Wanderings in a 

of Australia," Proceedings of the Wild Country (London, 1883), p. 196. 

Geographical Society of Australasia, 4 Captain J. Wilson, Missionary 

i. (1885) p. 29. Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean 

1 Melville, quoted by H. Ling Roth, (London, 1799), p. 357. 

The Aborigines of Tasmania (London, 6 J. G. Wood, Natural History of 

1890), p. 97. It has sometimes been Man, ii. 522 ; J. G. Garson, " On the 

affirmed that the Tasmanians did not Inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego," 

know how to kindle fire ; but the Journal of the Anthropological Insti- 

evidence collected by Mr. Ling Roth tute, xv. (1886). p. 145 ; Mission 

(op, cit., pp. xii. sq., 96 sq.), proves scientifique du Cap Horn, 1882-1883, 

that they were accustomed to light it vii. (Paris, 1891) p. 345. 


constantly burning in their huts by means of great blocks of Fire 
wood. 1 The Indians of Guiana also produce fire by twirling ^^es for 

the point of one stick in the hole of another, but they the sake 
seldom need to resort to this laborious process, for they keep 
fire burning in every house, and on long journeys they 
usually carry a large piece of smouldering timber in their 
canoes. Even in walking across the savannah an Indian 
will sometimes take a fire-brand with him. 2 The Jaggas, a 
Bantu tribe in the Kilimanjaro district of East Africa, keep 
up fire day and night in their huts on account of their 
cattle. If it goes out, the women fetch glowing brands 
from a neighbour's house ; these they carry wrapped up in 
banana leaves. Thus they convey fire for great distances, 
sometimes the whole day long. Hence they seldom need 
to kindle fire, though the men can make it readily by means 
of the fire-drill. 3 The tribes of British Central Africa also 
know how to produce fire in this fashion, but they do not 
often put their knowledge in practice. For there is sure to 
be a burning brand on one or other of the hearths of the 
village from which a fire can be lit ; and when men go on 
a journey they take smouldering sticks with them and nurse 
the glowing wood rather than be at the trouble of making 
fire by friction. 4 In the huts of the Ibos on the lower Niger 
burning embers are always kept and never allowed to go 
out. 5 And this is the regular practice among all the tribes 
of West Africa who have not yet obtained matches. If the 
fire in a house should go out, a woman will run to a neigh- 
bour's hut and fetch a burning stick from the hearth. Hence 
in most of their villages fire has probably not needed to be 
made for years and years. Among domesticated tribes, like 
the Effiks or Agalwa, when the men are going out to the 
plantation they will enclose a burning stick in a hollow piece 
of a certain kind of wood, which has a lining of its pith left 
in it, and they will carry this " fire-box " with them. 6 

1 J. B. Ambrosetti, "Los Indies 68 sq. (Petermann's Mittheilitngen : 
Caingua del alto Parana (misiones),'' Erganzungsheft, No. 129). 

Boletino del- Institute Geografico * Sir Harry H. Johnston, British 

Argentina, xv. (1895) pp. 703 s</. Central Africa (London, 1897), p. 438. 

2 E. F. im Thurn, Among the 6 A. F. Mockler - Ferryman, Up 
Indians of Guiana, pp. 257 sq. the Niger (London, 1892), p. 37. 

3 A. Widenmann, Die Kilimand- a Miss Mary H. Kingsley, Traiets 
scharo-Bevblkentitg (Gotha, 1899), pp. in West Africa, pp. 599 sq. 



The theft 
of fire by 

settled in 
villages, it 
would be 
to keep up 
a perpetual 
fire in the 
house of 
the head 

Before the introduction of matches Greek peasants used 
to convey fire from place to place in a stalk of giant fennel. 
The stalks of the plant are about five feet long by three 
inches thick, and are encased in a hard bark. The core of 
the stalk consists of a white pith which, when it is dry, 
burns slowly like a wick without injury to the bark. 1 Thus, 
when Prometheus, according to the legend, stole the first fire 
from heaven and brought it down to earth hidden in a stalk 
of giant fennel, 2 he carried his fire just as every Greek 
peasant and mariner did on a journey. 

When a tribe ceased to be nomadic and had settled in 
more or less permanent villages, it would be a convenient 
custom to keep a fire perpetually burning in every house. 
Such a custom, as we have seen, has been observed by 
various peoples, and it appears to have prevailed universally 
among all branches of the Aryans. 3 Arnobius implies that 
it was formerly practised by the Romans, though in his own 
time the usage had fallen into abeyance. 4 But it would be 
obviously desirable that there should be some one place in 
the village where every housewife could be sure of obtaining 
fire without having to kindle it by friction, if her own should 
chance to go out. The most natural spot to look for it 
would be the hearth of the head man of the village, who 
would come in time to be regarded as responsible for its 
maintenance. This is what seems to have happened not 
only among the Herero of South Africa and the Latin 
peoples of Italy, but also among the ancestors of the 
Greeks ; for in ancient Greece the perpetual fire kept up in 
the Prytaneum, or town-hall, was at first apparently the fire 

1 P. de Tournefort, Relation (fun 
voyage du Levant (Amsterdam, 1718), 
i. 93 (Lettre vi.) ; Sibthorp, in R. Wai- 
pole's Memoirs relating to European and 
Asiatic Turkey (London, 1817), pp. 
284 sq. ; W. G. Clark, Peloponnesus 
(London, 1858), p. in ; J. T. Bent, 
The Cydades (London, 1885), p. 365. 
The giant fennel (Ferula communis, L. ) 
is still known in Greece by its ancient 
name, hardly modified (nartheka 
instead of narthex], though W. G. 
Clark says the modern name is kalami. 
Bent speaks of the plant as a reed, 

which is a mistake. The plant is 
described by Theophrastus (Histor. 
plant, vi. 2. 7 sq. ). 

2 Hesiod, Works and Days, 50-52 ; 
id., Theogony, 565-567 ; Aeschylus, 
Prometheus Bound, 107-111 ; Apollo- 
dorus, Bibliotheca, i. 7. I ; Hyginus, 
Fabiilae, 144 ; id., Astronomica, ii. 15. 

8 See my article, " The Prytaneum, 
the Temple of Vesta, the Vestals, 
Perpetual Fires, " Journal of Philology, 
xiv. (1885) pp. 169-171. 

4 Arnobius, Adversus nationes, ii. 


on the king's hearth. 1 From this simple origin may have Hence the 
sprung the custom which in various parts of the world * 'oTa 
associates the maintenance of a perpetual fire with chiefly or perpetual 
royal dignity. Thus it was a distinguishing mark of the to ^ 
chieftainship of one of the Samoan nobility, that his fire associated 

, T . , . with chiefly 

never went out. His attendants had a particular name, from O r royal 
their special business of keeping his fire ablaze all night long d 'g nit y- 
while he slept 2 Among the Gallas the maintenance of a 
perpetual fire, even when it serves no practical purpose, is a 
favourite mode of asserting high rank, and the chiefs often 
indulge in it. 3 The Chitome', a grand pontiff in the kingdom 
of Congo, of whom we shall hear more hereafter, kept up in 
his hut, day and night, a sacred fire, of which he dispensed 
brands to such as came to ask for them and could pay for 
them. He is said to have done a good business in fire, for 
the infatuated people believed that it preserved them from 
many accidents. 4 In Uganda a perpetual sacred fire, sup- 
posed to have come down to earth with the first man Kintu, 
is maintained by a chief, who is put to death if he suffers it 
to be extinguished. From this sacred fire the king's fire 
(gombolola) is lighted and kept constantly burning at the 
gate of the royal enclosure during the whole of his reign. 
By day it burns in a small hut, but at night it is brought 
out and set in a little hole in the ground, where it blazes 
brightly till daybreak, whatever the weather may be. When 
the king journeys the fire goes with him, and when he dies 
it is extinguished. The death of a king is indeed announced 
to the people by the words, " The fire has gone out." A 
man who bears a special title is charged with the duty of 
maintaining the fire, and of looking after all the fuel and 
torches used in the royal enclosure. When the king dies 
the guardian of his fire is strangled near the hearth. 5 
Similarly in Dageou, a country to the west of Darfur, it is 

1 See my article, "The Prytaneum, 1893), p. 145. 

the Temple of Vesta, the Vestals, Per- * J. B. Labat, Relation historique 

petual Fires," Journal of Philology , xiv. de I'Ethiopie Occidentale, i. 256 sq. 

(1885) pp. 145 sqq. 6 J. Roscoe, " Further Notes on the 

2 G. Turner, Nineteen Years in Manners and Customs of the Baganda," 
Polynesia (London, 1861), p. 326. Journal of the Anthropological Insti- 

8 Ph. Paulitschke, Ethnographic tute, xxxii. (1902) pp. 43, 51 sq. ; 
Nordost-Afrikas, die materielle Cultur id., in a letter to me dated Mengo, 
der Dandkil, Galla und Somdl (Berlin, Uganda, 3rd August 1904. 


said that a custom prevailed of kindling a fire on the in- 
auguration of a king and keeping it alight till his death. 1 
Among the Mucelis of Angola, when the king of Amboin or 
Sanga dies, all fires in the kingdom are extinguished. After- 
wards the new king makes new fire by rubbing two sticks 
against each other. 2 Such a custom is probably nothing 
more than an extension of the practice of putting out a 
chief's own fire at his death. Similarly, when a new Muata 
Jam wo, a great potentate in the interior of Angola, comes 
to the throne, one of his first duties is to make a new fire 
by the friction of wood, for the old fire may not be used. 3 
Before the palace gate of the king of Siam there burns, or 
used to burn, a perpetual fire, which was said to have been 
lit from heaven with a fiery ball. 4 

Perpetual Among the Natchez Indians of the lower Mississippi a 

faTneTb 1 perpetual fire, supposed to have been brought down from 

the chief the sun, was maintained in a square temple which stood 

Great Sun Des ide the hut of the supreme chief of the nation. He bore 

among the the title of the Great Sun, and believed himself to be a 

Indians! descendant or brother of the luminary his namesake. Every 

morning when the sun rose he blew three whiffs of his pipe 

towards it, and raising his hands above his head, and turning 

from east to west, he marked out the course which the 

bright orb was to pursue in the sky. The sacred fire in the 

temple was fed with logs of walnut or oak, and the greatest 

care was taken to prevent its extinction ; for such an event 

would have been thought to put the whole nation in jeopardy. 

Eight men were appointed to guard the fire, two of whom 

were bound to be always on watch ; and the Great Sun 

himself looked to the maintenance of the fire with anxious 

attention. If any of the guardians of the fire failed to do 

his duty, the rule was that he should be put to death. 

When the great chief died his bones were deposited in the 

temple, along with the bones of many attendants who were 

strangled in order that their souls might wait upon him in 

the spirit land. On such an occasion the chiefs fire was 

1 W. G. Browne, Travels in Africa, 3 P. Pogge, Im Reiche des Mttata 
Egypt, and Syria (London, 1799), Jamwo (Berlin, 1880), p. 234. 

p. 306. 

2 J. J. Monteiro, Angola and the * A. Bastian, Die Volker des ostlichen 
River Congo (London, 1875), " '67. Asien, iii. 515 sq. 


extinguished, and this was the signal for putting out all the 
other fires in the country. Every village had also its own 
temple in which a perpetual fire was maintained under the 
guardianship of a subordinate chief. These lesser chiefs 
also bore the title of Suns, but acknowledged the supremacy 
of the head chief, the Great Sun. All of these Suns were sup- 
posed to be descended from a man and woman who had come 
down from the luminary from which they took their names. 
There were female Suns as well as male Suns, but they might 
not marry among themselves ; they had always to mate with a 
woman or a man of lower rank. Their nobility was transmitted 
in the maternal line; that is, the children of a female Sun, both 
sons and daughters, were Suns, but the children of a male 
Sun were not. Hence a chief was never succeeded by his own 
son, but always by the son either of his sister or of his nearest 
female relation. The Natchez knew how to produce fire 
by means of the fire-drill ; but if the sacred fire in the temple 
went out, they relit it, not by the friction of wood, but by a 
brand brought from another temple or from a tree which had 
been ignited by lightning. 1 In these customs of the Natchez 
we have clearly fire-worship and sun-worship of the same 
general type which meets us again at a higher state of evolution 
among the I ncas of Peru. Both sets of customs probably sprang 
originally from the perpetual fire on the chiefs domestic hearth. 

When a perpetual fire has thus become a symbol of Firecarried 
royalty, it is natural that it should be carried before the C hief<f and 
king or chief on the march. Among the Indians of the kings as a 
Mississippi a lighted torch used to be borne in front of a royalty . 
chief, and no commoner would dare to walk between a chief 

1 Du Pratz, History of Louisiana Amtriqtie (Paris, 1870), pp. 227 sqq. ; 

(London, 1774), pp. 330-334,346^., II. R. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, v. 

35 * -35% > Charlevoix, Histoire de la 68. The accounts differ from each 

Nouvelle France, vi. \"jzsqq.\ Lafitau, other in some details. Thus Du Pratz 

Moeurs des salvages Ameriquains, i. speaks as if there were only two fire- 

167^7.; Lfttres edifiantes et curieuses, temples in the country, whereas the 

Nouvelle Edition, vii. (Paris, 1781) writer in the Lettres fdifiantes says 

pp. 7 - 16 (reprinted in Kecueil de that there were eleven villages each 

voyages au nord, ix. Amsterdam, with its fire-temple, and that formerly 

X 737> PP- 3' 1 3)> "Relation de la there had been sixty villages and 

Louisianne," Receuil de voyages au temples. The account in the text is 

Nord, v. (Amsterdam, 1734) pp. based mainly on the authority of Du 

23 sq. ; Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux Pratz, who lived among the Natchez 

Indes Occidentales (Paris, 1768), i. on terms of intimacy for eight years, 

42-44; Chateaubriand, Voyage en from the end of 1718 to 1726. 


Fire and his torch-bearer. 1 A sacred fire, .supposed to have 

descended from heaven, was carried in a brazier before the 


chiefs and Persian kings, 2 and the custom was adopted as a badge of 
imperial dignity by later Roman emperors. 3 The practice 
appears to have been especially observed in time of war. 
Amongst the Ovambo of South Africa the chief appoints a 
general to lead the army to battle, and next to the general the 
greatest officer is he who carries a fire-brand at the head of 
the warriors. If the fire goes out on the march, it is an evil 
omen and the army beats a retreat. 4 When the king of 
Monomotapa, or Benomotapa, was at war, a sacred fire was 
kept burning perpetually in a hut near his tent. 5 In old 
days it is said that the king of Mombaza in East Africa 
could put an army of eighty thousand men in the field. On 
the march his guards were preceded by men carrying fire. 6 
High above the tent of Alexander the Great hung a fiery 
cresset on a pole, and "the flame of it was seen by night, 
and the smoke by day." r When a Spartan king was about 
to lead an army abroad he first sacrificed at home to Zeus 
the Leader. Then a man called the fire-bearer took fire 
from the altar and marched with it at the head of the Droops 
to the frontier. There the king again sacrificed to Zeus 
and Athena, and if the omens were favourable, he crossed 
the border, preceded by the fire from the sacrifices, which 
thenceforth led the way and might not be quenched. To 
perform such sacrifices the king always rose very early in 
the morning, while it was still dark, in order to get the ear 
of the god before the enemy could forestall him. 8 

A custom of maintaining a fire during a king's reign and 
extinguishing it at his death, even if it did not originate in a 

1 Hennepin, Nouvellc Decouverte 6 O. Dapper, op. cit. p. 400. 

(fun trts grand pays situt dans 7 Quintus Curtius, v. z. 7. Curtius 

F Amerique (Utrecht, 1697), p. 306. represents this as a signal adopted by 

2 Xenophon, Cyropaedia, viii. 3. Alexander, because the sound of the 
' 12 ; Ammianus Marcellinus, xxiii. 6. bugle was lost in the trampling and 

34 ; Quintus Curtius, iii. 3. 7. hum of the great multitude. But this 

3 DioCassius, Ixxi. 35. 5; Herodian, may be merely the historian's interpreta- 
i. 8. 4, i. 1 6. 4, ii. 3. 2, ii. 8. 6, vii. tion of an old custom. 

I. 9, vii. 6. 2. 8 Xenophon, Respublica Laccdae- 

* H. Schinz, Deutsch Sudivest- moniorum, xiii. 2 sq. ; Nicolaus Danias- 

Afrika, p. 320. cenus, quoted by Stobaeus, Florilegium, 

6 O. Dapper, Description de FAfrique xliv. 41 (vol. ii. p. 188 ed. Meineke) ; 

(Amsterdam, 1686), p. 392. Hesychius, s.v. irvpvoijibpos. 


superstition, would naturally lend itself to a superstitions The 
interpretation. The distinction between the sign and the k 
cause of an event is not readily grasped by a dull mind ; a perpetual 
hence the extinction of the king's fire, from being merely a 
signal of his death, might come in time to be regarded as a r e'gn and 
cause of it. In other words, a vital connexion might be 

supposed to exist between the king and the fire, so that if his death - 

. ' might lead 

the fire were put out the king would die. That a sympa- to a belief 
thetic bond of some sort united the king's life with the fire that his life 

was bound 

on his hearth was apparently believed by the ancient up with 
Scythians. For their most solemn oath was by the king's the fire- 
hearth, and if any man who had taken this oath forswore 
himself, they believed that the king would fall ill. 1 The 
story of Meleager, 2 whose life was said to be bound up with 
a brand plucked from the fire on the hearth, belongs to the 
same class of ideas, which will be examined at large in a 
later part of this work. Wherever a superstition of this sort 
gathered round the king's hearth, it is obvious that he would 
be moved to watch over the fire with redoubled vigilance. 
On a certain day the Vestal Virgins at Rome used to go to 
the King of the Sacred Rites, the successor of the old 
Roman kings, and say to him, " Watchest thou, O King ? 
Watch." 3 The ceremony may have been a reminiscence or 
survival of a time when the king's life as well as the general 
safety was supposed to hang on the maintenance of. the fire, 
to the guardianship of which he would thus be impelled by the 
motive of self-preservation as well as of public duty. When 
natives of the Kei Islands in the East Indies are away on a 
long voyage, a sacred fire is kept up the whole time of their 
absence by their friends at home. Three or four young girls 
are appointed to feed it and watch over it day and night with 
a jealous care lest it should go out ; its extinction would be 
deemed a most evil omen, for the fire is the symbol of the life 
of the absent ones. 4 This belief and this practice may help 
us to understand the corresponding beliefs and practices 
concerned with the maintenance of a perpetual fire at Rome. 

1 Herodotus, iv. 68. Fab. 171 and 174. 

2 Aeschylus, Cho'eph. 604 sqq. ; 3 Servius, on Virgil, Aen. x. 228. 
Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, i. 8. 2 sq. ; * Le P. H. Geurtjens, " Le Cere"- 
Diodorus Siculus, iv. 34. 6 sq. ; Ovid, monial des Voyages aux lies Keij," 
Meta;noi-ph. viii. 445 sqq. ; Hyginus, Anthropos, v. (1910) pp. 337 sq. 



The Vestal THUS it appears that a variety of considerations com- 

the ai eat bined to uphold, if not to originate, the custom of maintaining 

priesthoods a perpetual fire. The sanctity of the wood which fed it, 

havTbeen tne belief in the generative virtue of the process by which it 

institutions wa s kindled, the supposed efficacy of fire in repelling the 

the whole powers of evil, the association of the hearth with the spirits 

Latin race. o f the dead and with the majesty or even the life of the king 

all worked together to invest the simple old custom with a 

halo of mystery and romance. If this was so at Rome we 

may assume that matters were not very different in the other 

Latin towns which kept up a Vestal fire. These too had 

their kings of the Sacred Rites, their flamens, and their 

pontiffs, as well as their Vestal Virgins. 1 All the great 

priesthoods of Rome appear, in fact, to have had their 

doubles in the other ancient cities of Latium ; all were 

probably primitive institutions common to the whole Latin 

race. 2 

Priestly or Accordingly, whatever is true or probable of the Roman 
functions P r i est hoods, about which we know most, may reasonably be 
of the regarded as true or probable of the corresponding priest- 
kings^in- hcls elsewhere in Latium, about which for the most part 
eluding the we know nothing more than the names. Now in regard to 
ance oTthe tne Roman king, whose priestly functions were inherited by 
Vestal fire, his successor the king of the Sacred Rites, the foregoing 
discussion has led us to the following conclusions. He 

1 J. Marquardt, Romische Staaisver- 1173. As to Vesta and the Vestals, 

waltung, iii. 2 237, 321 ; C. Julian, in see above, vol. i. pp. 13 sq. 
Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire des 
antiquit^s grecques et romaines, ii. 2 C. Julian, I.e. 



represented and indeed personated Jupiter, the great god 

of the oak, the sky, and the thunder, and in that character 

made rain, thunder, and lightning for the good of his sub- 

jects, like many more kings of the weather in other parts of 

the world. Further, he not only mimicked the oak-god by 

wearing an oak wreath and other insignia of divinity, but he 

was married to an oak-nymph Egeria, who appears to have 

been merely a local form of Diana in her character of a 

goddess of woods, of waters, and of childbirth. Moreover, he 

was descended from the oak, since he was born of a virgin 

who conceived by contact with a fire of sacred oak-wood. 

Hence he had to guard the ancestral fire and keep it con- 

stantly burning, inasmuch as on its maintenance depended 

the continuance of the royal family. Only on certain stated But the fire 

occasions was it lawful and even necessary to extinguish the 

old fire in order to revive it in a purer and more vigorous tinguished 
form by the friction of the sacred wood. This was done rekindled 
once a year on the first of March, 1 and we may conjecture on certain 

, . , . . occasions, 

that it was also done by the new king on his accession to perhaps on 
power ; for, as we have seen, it has been customary in 
various places to extinguish the king's fire at his death. 2 
Among the ancient Persians the perpetual sacred fire was 
put out on the death of a king and remained unlit until 
after his funeral. 3 It is a common practice to extinguish 
the fire in any house where a death has taken place, 4 

1 See above, p. 1 86 note I . in Jmirnal of the Anthrop. Institute, 

2 Above, pp. 261-263. x-xxii. (1902) p. 462). In Armenia 

3 Diodorus Siculus, xvii. 114. it is made by flint and steel (M. 

4 Thus in some African tribes the Abeghian, Der armenische Volksglaube, 
household fire is put out after a death, p. 71). In Argos fire was extin- 
and afterwards relit by the friction of guished after a death, and fresh fire 
sticks (Sir H. H. Johnston, British obtained from a neighbour (Plutarch, 
Central Africa, p. 439 ; L. Concradt, Quaest. Graec. 24). In the High- 
" Die Ngumbu in Siidkamerun," lands of Scotland all fires were put out 
Globus, Ixxxi. (1902) p. 352). In in a house where there was a corpse 
Laos the fire on the hearth is extin- (Pennant's "Tour in Scotland," in Pin- 
guished after a death and the ashes are kerton's Voyages and Travels, iii. 49). 
scattered ; afterwards a new fire is Amongst the Bogos of East Africa no 
obtained from a neighbour (Tournier, fire may be lit in a house after a death 
Notice sur le Laos franfais, p. 68). until the body has been carried out 
A custom of the same sort is observed (W. Munzinger, Sitten und Recht der 
in Burma, but there the new fire must Bogos, p. 67). In the Pelew Islands, 
be bought (C. J. F. S. Forbes, British when a death has taken place, fire is 
Burma, p. 94). Among the Miris of transferred from the house to a shed 
Assam the new fire is made by the erected beside it (J. S. Kubary, "Die 
widow or widower (W. H. Furness, Todtenbestattung auf den Pelau- 


apparently from a fear that the ghost may scorch or singe 
himself at it, like a moth at the flame of a candle ; and the 
custom of putting out the king's fire at his decease may in 
its origin have been nothing more than this. But when the 
fire on the king's hearth came to be viewed as bound up in 
a mysterious fashion with his life, it would naturally be 
extinguished at his death, not to spare his fluttering ghost 
the risk and pain of falling into it, but because, as a sort of 
life-token or external soul, it too must die at his death and 
be born again from the holy tree. At all events, it seems 
probable that whenever and from whatever cause it became 
necessary to rekindle the royal and sacred fire by the friction 
of wood, the operation was performed jointly - by the king 
and the Vestals, one or more of whom may have been his 
daughters or the daughters of his predecessor. Regarded 
as impersonations of Mother Vesta herself, these priestesses 
would be the chosen vessels, not only to bring to birth the 
seed of fire in working the fire-drill, but also to receive the 
seed of the fire-god in their chaste wombs, and so to become 
the mothers of fire-begotten kings. 

What is All these conclusions, which we have reached mainly by 

Roman * a consideration of the Roman evidence, may with great 
kings is probability be applied to the other Latin communities, 
true of t^e They too probably had of old their divine or priestly kings, 
Latin kings w h o transmitted their religious functions, without their civil 

in general. . ,,. /<- IT-.- 

powers, to their successors the kings of the Sacred Rites. 
What was But we have still to ask, What was the rule of succession 
siccSslo? to the kingdom among the old Latin tribes ? We possess 
to the two lists of Latin kings both professedly complete. One is 
kingship? tne ^ st f tne kings of Alba, the other is the list of the 

Inseln, " Original - Mitthcilungen aus India (Mandelsloe, in J. Harris's 

der Ethnologischen Abtheilung der Voyages and Travels, i. (London, 

Koniglichen Museen zu Berlin, i. 7). 1744) p. 7?o). In the East Indian 

In the Marquesas Islands fires were island of Wetter no fire may burn in 

extinguished after a death (Vincendon- a house for three days after a death, 

Dumoulin et Desgraz, lies Marquises, and according to Bastian the reason is 

p. 251). Among the Indians of Peru the one given in the text, to wit, a fear 

and the Moors of Algiers no fire might that the ghost might fall into it and 

be lighted for several days in a house hurt himself (A. Bastian, Indonesien, 

where a death had occurred (Cieza ii. 60). For more evidence, see my 

de Leon, Travels, Markham's transla- article "On certain Burial Customs," 

tion, p. 366; Dapper, Description de Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 

rAfrique, p. 176). The same custom xv. (1886) p. 90. 
is reported of the Mohammedans of 


kings of Rome. If we accept as authentic the list of the The list of 
Alban kings, we can only conclude that the kingdom was k ^ ^ lfc 
hereditary in the male line, the son regularly succeeding his seems to 
father on the throne. 1 But this list, if it is not, as Niebuhr [hiking- 3 * 
held, a late and clumsy fabrication, has somewhat the appear- shi P was 
ance of an elastic cord which ancient historians stretched in j n tne male 
order to link Aeneas to Romulus. 2 Yet it would be rash line - 
to set these names wholly aside as a chronological stop- 
gap deliberately foisted in by later annalists. In early 
monarchies, before the invention of writing, tradition is 
remarkably retentive of the names of kings. The Baganda 
of Central Africa, for example, remember the names of more 
than thirty of their kings in an unbroken chain of twenty- 
two generations. 3 Even the occurrence of foreign names 
among the Alban kings is not of itself sufficient to con- 
demn the list as a forgery ; for, as I shall shew presently, 
this feature is explicable by a rule of descent which appears 
to have prevailed in many ancient monarchies, including that 
of Rome. Perhaps the most we can say for the history of 
the Alban kings is that their names may well be genuine, 
and that some general features of the monarchy, together 
with a few events which happened to strike the popular 
imagination, may have survived in the memory of the 
people till they found their way into written history. But 
no dependence can be placed either on the alleged years of 
their reigns, or on the hereditary principle which is assumed 
to have connected each king with his predecessor. 

When we come to the list of the Roman kings we are 
on much firmer, though still slippery ground. According 

1 For the list of the Alban kings of the names may have been taken 
see Livy, i. 3. 5-11 ; Ovid, Fasti, iv. from older legends. 

39 - 56 ; id. , Metam. xiv. 609 sqq. ; 8 H. M. Stanley, Through the Dark 

Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. Continent (London, 1878), i. 380; 

Rom. i. 70 sq. ; Eusebius, Chronic. C. T. Wilson and R. W. Felkin, Uganda 

bk. i. vol. i. coll. 273, 275, 285, 287, and the Egyptian Sudan (London, 

289, 291, ed. A. Schoene ; Diodorus 1882), i. 197; Fr. Stuhlman, Mit 

Siculus, vii. 3* ed. L. Dindorf ; Sextus Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika 

Aurelius Victor, Origogentis Romanae, (Berlin, 1894), pp. 192 sq. ; J. Roscoe, 

17-19 ; Zonaras,- Annales, vii. i. "Farther Notes on the Manners and 

Customs of the Baganda," Journal of 

2 See B. G. Niebuhr, History of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii. 
Rome, i. 205-207; A. Schwegler, (1902) p. 25, with plates i. and ii. ; 
Riimische Geschichte, i. 339, 342-345. Sir Harry Johnston, The Uganda Pro- 
However, Niebuhr admits that some tectorate, ii. 68 1 sq. 




On the 
other hand 
none of the 
kings was 
by his son, 
but three 
were suc- 
ceeded by 
their sons- 
who were 

to tradition there were in all eight kings of Rome, 1 and 
with regard to the five last of them, at all events, we can 
hardly doubt that they actually sat on the throne, and that 
the traditional history of their reigns is, in its main outlines, 
correct. 2 Now it is very remarkable that though the first 
king of Rome, Romulus, is said to have been descended 
from the royal house of Alba, in which the kingship is 
represented as hereditary in the male line, not one of the 
Roman kings was immediately succeeded by his son on the 
throne. Yet several left sons or grandsons behind them. 3 
On the other hand, one of them was descended from a 
former king through his mother, not through his father, 4 and 
three of the kings, namely Tatius, the elder Tarquin, and 
Servius Tullius, were succeeded by their sons-in-law, 6 who 
were all either foreigners or of foreign descent. 6 This 

1 Romulus and Tatius reigned for 
a time together ; after Romulus the 
kings were, in order of succession, 
Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, 
Ancus Marcius, the elder Tarquin, 
Servius Tullius, and Tarquin the 

2 See A. Schwegler, Romische Ge- 
schichte, i. 579 sq. 

3 According to one account, Romulus 
had a son and a daughter (Plutarch, 
Romulus, 14). Some held that Numa 
had four sons (Plutarch, Numa, 21). 
Ancus Marcius left two sons (Livy, 
i- 35-. *> i- 4 5 Dionysius Halicar- 
uasensis, Ant. Rom. iii. 72 sq., iv. 

34. 3). Tarquin the Elder left two 
sons or grandsons (Livy, i. 46 ; 
Dionysius Halic., Ant. Rom. iv. 6 sq. 
iv. 28). 

4 Pompilia, the mother of Ancus 
Marcius, was a daughter of Numa. 
See Cicero, De re publica, ii. 18. 33 ; 
Livy, i. 32. I ; Dionysius Halicar- 
nasensis, Ant. Rom. ii. 76. 5, iii. 

35. 3, iii. 36. 2 ; Plutarch, Numa, 21. 
6 Numa married Tatia, the daughter 

of Tatius (Plutarch, Numa, 3 and 21); 
Servius Tullius married the daughter 
of the elder Tarquin (Livy, i. 39. 4) ; 
and Tarquin the Proud married Tullia 
the daughter of Servius Tullius (Livy, 
i. 42. i, i. 46. 5). 

8 Numa was a Sabine from Cures 
(Livy, i. 18; Plutarch, Numa, 3; 

Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. Rom. 
ii. 58) ; Servius Tullius, according to 
the common account, was the son of 
Ocrisia, a slave woman of Corniculum 
(Livy, i. 39. 5 ; Dionysius Halicar- 
nasensis, Ant. Rom. iv. i), but ac- 
cording to another account he was an 
Etruscan (see above, p. 196 note) ; and 
Tarquin the Proud was a son of the 
elder Tarquin, who was an Etruscan 
from Tarquinii (Livy, i. 34 ; Cicero, 
De re publica, ii. 19 sq., 34^.). 
The foreign birth of their kings natur- 
ally struck the Romans themselves. 
See the speech put by Livy (i. 35. 3), 
in the mouth of the elder Tarquin : 
' ' Se non rem novam petere, quippe qui 
non primus, quod quisquam indiqnari 
mirarvve posset, seal tertius Romae 
peregrinus regnum adfectet ; et Tatium 
non ex peregrine solum sed etiam ex 
hoste regent factum, et Numam ignarum 
urbis non petentem in regnum ultra 
accitum : se, ex quo sui potens fuerit, 
Romam cum conjuge ac fortunis omni- 
bus commigrasse." And see a passage 
in a speech actually spoken by the 
Emperor Claudius : " Quondam reges 
hanc tenuere urbem, nee tamen do- 
mes t ids successoribus earn tradere con- 
tigit. Supervenere alieni et quidem 
externi, ut Numa Romulo successerit 
ex Sabinis -veniens, victims quidem 
sed tune externus," etc. The speech 
is engraved on bronze tablets found at 


suggests that the right to the kingship was transmitted This sug- 
in the female line, and was actually exercised by foreigners f^fkin^. 1 
who married the royal princesses. To put it in technical ship was 
language, the succession to the kingship at Rome and 

probably in Latium generally would seem to have been the female 
determined by certain rules which have moulded early society was held 
in many parts of the world, namely exogamy, beena marriage, by . 
and female kinship or mother-kin. Exogamy is the rule who 

which obliges a man to marry a woman of a different clan 
from his own ; beena marriage is the rule that he must leave princesses. 
the home of his birth and live with his wife's people ; l and 
female kinship or mother-kin is the system of tracing relation- 
ship and transmitting the family name through women instead 
of through men. 2 If these principles regulated descent of the 
kingship among the ancient Latins, the state of things in 
this respect would be somewhat as follows. The political 
and religious centre of each community would be the 
perpetual fire on the king's hearth tended by Vestal Virgins 
of the royal clan. The king would be a man of another 
clan, perhaps of another town or even of another race, who 
had married a daughter of his predecessor and received the 
kingdom with her. The children whom he had by her 
would inherit their mother's name, not his ; the daughters 
would remain at home ; the sons, when they grew up, would 
go away into the world, marry, and settle in their wives' 
country, whether as kings or commoners. Of the daughters 
who stayed at home, some or all would be dedicated as 
Vestal Virgins for a longer or shorter time to the service of 
the fire on the hearth, and one of them would in time 
become the consort of her father's successor. 

Lyons. See Tacitus, ed. Baiter and tracing descent through females instead 

Orelli, i. 2 p. 342. of through males, is often called the 

1 " In Ceylon, where the higher matriarchate. But this term is inap- 
and lower polyandry co-exist, marriage propriate and misleading, as it implies 
is of two sorts Deega or Beena that under the system in question the 
according as the wife goes to live in women govern the men. Even when 
the house and village of her husbands, the so-called matriarchate regulates the 
or as the husband or husbands come to descent of the kingdom, this does not 
live with her in or near the house of mean that the women of the royal 
her birth " (J. F. McLennan, Studies family reign ; it only means that they 
in Ancient History (London, 1886), are the channel through which the 
p. 101). kingship is transmitted to their hus- 

2 The system of mother-kin, that is, of bands or sons. 



This hypo- 
thesis ex- 
plains some 
in the 
history of 
the Latin 
kings, such 
as the 
of their 

The Latin 
at a Satur- 

festival of 
was a kind 
of Satur- 
and was 
with the 

This hypothesis has the advantage of explaining in a 
simple and natural way some obscure features in the 
traditional history of the Latin kingship. Thus the legends 
which tell how Latin kings were born of virgin mothers and 
divine fathers become at least more intelligible. For, 
stripped of their fabulous element, tales of this sort mean 
no more than that a woman has been gotten with child by 
a man unknown ; and this uncertainty as to fatherhood is 
more easily compatible with a system of kinship which 
ignores paternity than with one which makes it all- 
important If at the birth of the Latin kings their fathers 
were really unknown, 1 the fact points either to a general 
looseness of life in the royal family or to a special relaxa- 
tion of moral rules on certain occasions, when men and 
women reverted for a season to the licence of an earlier age. 
Such Saturnalias are not uncommon at some stages of social 
evolution. In our own country traces of them long survived 
in the practices of May Day and Whitsuntide, if not of 
Christmas. Children born of the more or less promiscuous 
intercourse which characterises festivals of this kind would 
naturally be fathered on the god to whom the particular 
festival was dedicated. 

In this connexion it may not be without significance 
that a festival of jollity and drunkenness was celebrated by 
the plebeians and slaves at Rome on Midsummer Day, 
and that the festival was specially associated with the fire- 
born King Servius Tullius, being held in honour of Fortuna, 
the goddess who loved Servius as Egeria loved Numa. 
The popular merrymakings at this season included foot- 
races and boat-races ; the Tiber was gay with flower- 
wreathed boats, in which young folk sat quaffing wine. 2 
The festival appears to have been a sort of Midsummer 
Saturnalia answering to the real Saturnalia which fell at 
Midwinter. In modern Europe, as we shall learn later on, 
the great Midsummer festival has been above all a festival 

1 Ancient writers repeatedly speak 
of the uncertainty as to the fathers of 
the Roman kings. See Livy, i. 4. 2 ; 
Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. Rom. 
ii. 2. 3 ; Cicero, De re publica, ii. 18. 
33 ; Seneca, Epist. cviii. 30 ; Aelian, 

Var. Hist. xiv. 36. 

2 Ovid, Fasti, vi. 773-784 ; Varro, 
De lingua Latina, vi. 17. Compare 
L. Preller, Romischc Myihologie? ii. 
1 80 sq. 


of lovers and of fire ; one of its principal features is the 
pairing of sweethearts, who leap over the bonfires hand in 
hand or throw flowers across the flames to each other. 
And many omens of love and marriage are drawn from the 
flowers which bloom at this mystic season. 1 It is the time 
of the roses and of love. Yet the innocence and beauty of 
such festivals in modern times ought not to blind us to the 
likelihood that in earlier days they were marked by coarser 
features, which were probably of the essence of the rites. 
Indeed, among the rude Esthonian peasantry these features 
seem to have lingered down to our own generation, if not to 
the present day. One other feature in the Roman cele- 
bration of Midsummer deserves to be specially noticed. 
The custom of rowing in flower-decked boats on the river 
on this day proves that it was to some extent a water 
festival ; and, as we shall learn later on, water has always, 
down to modern times, played a conspicuous part in the 
rites of Midsummer Day, which explains why the Church, 
in throwing its- cloak over the old heathen festival, chose to 
dedicate it to St. John the Baptist. 2 

The hypothesis that the Latin kings may have been But the 
begotten at an annual festival of love is necessarily a mere 
conjecture, though the traditional birth of Numa on the paternity 
festival of the Parilia, when shepherds leaped across the R oman 
spring bonfires, 3 as lovers leap across the Midsummer fires, kin & s ma y 
may perhaps be thought to lend it a faint colour of probability. t h a t in 
But it is quite possible that the uncertainty as to their later times 

...... - .. the names 

fathers may not have arisen till long after the death of the O f their 
kings, when their figures began to melt away into the fathers 
cloudland of fable, assuming fantastic shapes and gorgeous gotten, 
colouring as they passed from earth to heaven. If they 
were alien immigrants, strangers and pilgrims in the land 
they ruled over, it would be natural enough that the people 
should forget their lineage, and forgetting it should provide 
them with another, which made up in lustre what it lacked 
in truth. The final apotheosis, which represented the kings 
as not merely sprung from gods but as themselves deities 

1 See The Golden Bough, Second Edition, pp. 203 sqq. ; The Golden 
Edition, iii. 266 sqq., 328 sqq. Bough, Second Edition, iii. 318 sq. 

2 See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 3 Plutarch, Numa, 3. 




descent is 
only, girls 
of the 
rank may 
be married 
to men of 
birth, even 
to aliens 
and slaves. 



where the 





the rank 

of the 


father is 



incarnate, would be much facilitated if in their lifetime, as 
we have seen reason to think, they had actually laid claim 
to divinity. 

If among the Latins the women of royal blood always 
stayed at home and received as their consorts men of another 
stock, and often of another country, who reigned as kings 
in virtue of their marriage with a native princess, we can 
understand not only why foreigners wore the crown at Rome, 
but also why foreign names occur in the list of the Alban 
kings. In a state of society where nobility is reckoned only 
through women in other words, where descent through the 
mother is everything, and descent through the father is 
nothing no objection will be felt to uniting girls of the 
highest rank to men of humble birth, even to aliens or slaves, 
provided that in themselves the men appear to be suitable 
mates. What really matters is that the royal stock, on 
which the prosperity and even the existence of the people is 
supposed to depend, should be perpetuated in a vigorous 
and efficient form, and for this purpose it is necessary that 
the women of the royal family should bear children to 
men who are physically and mentally fit, according to the 
standard of early society, to discharge the important duty of 
procreation. Thus the personal qualities of the kings at 
this stage of social evolution are deemed of vital importance. 
If they, like their consorts, are of royal and divine descent, 
so much the better ; but it is not essential that they should 
be so. 

The hypothesis which we have been led to frame of the 
rule of succession to the Latin kingship will be confirmed 
by analogy if we can shew that elsewhere, under a 
system of female kinship, the paternity of the kings is a 
matter of indifference nay, that men who are born slaves 
may, like Servius Tullius, marry royal princesses and be 
raised to the throne. Now this is true of the Tshi-speak- 
ing peoples of the Gold Coast in West Africa. Thus 
in Ashantee, where the kingdom descends in the female 
line to the king's brothers and afterwards to the sons of his 
sister in preference to his own sons, the sisters of the reign- 
ing monarch are free to marry or intrigue with whom they 
please, provided only that their husband or lover be a very 


strong and handsome man, in order that the kings whom 
he begets may be men of finer presence than their subjects. 
It matters not how low may be the rank and position 
of the king's father. If the king's sisters, however, have no 
sons, the throne will pass to the king's own son, and failing a 
son, to the chief vassal or the chief slave. But in the Fantee 
country the principal slave succeeds to the exclusion of the 
son. So little regard is paid by these people to the lineage, 
especially the paternal lineage, of their kings. 1 Yet Ashantee 
has attained a barbaric civilisation as high perhaps as that 
of any negro state, and probably not at all inferior to that 
of the petty Latin kingdoms at the dawn of history. 

A trace of a similar state of things appears to survive in Traces of 
Uganda, another great African monarchy. For there the 5^^ 
queen dowager and the queen sister are, or were, allowed things in 

. ' . Uganda. 

to have as many husbands as they choose, without going 
through any marriage ceremony. " Of these two women it 
is commonly said all Uganda is their husband ; they appear 
to be fond of change, only living with a man for a few days 
and then inviting some one else to take his place." We are 
reminded of the legends of the lustful queen Semiramis, and 
the likeness may be more than superficial. Yet these women 
are not allowed, under pain of death, to bear children ; hence 
they practise abortion. 2 Both the licence and the prohibition 
may be explained if we suppose that formerly the kingdom 
descended, as it still does in Ashantee, first to the king's 
brothers and next to the sons of his sisters. For in that case 
the next heirs to the throne would be the sons of the king's 
mother and of his sisters, and these women might accord- 
ingly be allowed, as the king's sisters still are allowed in 
Ashantee, to mate with any handsome men who took their 
fancy, in order that their offspring might be of regal port. 
But when the line of descent was changed from the female 
to the male line, in other words, when the kings were 

1 T. E. Bowdich, Mission from Cape Manners and Customs of the Baganda," 
Coast Castle to Ashantee, New Edition Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 
(London, 1873), pp. 185, 204 sq. ; xxxii. (1902) pp. 36, 67. In Benin 
A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking Peoples "the legitimate daughters of a king 
of the Gold Coast, pp. 287, 297 sq. ; did not marry any one, but bestowed 
id., The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the their favours as they pleased" (Mr. C. 
Slave Coast, p. 187. Punch, in H. Ling Roth's Great Benin 

2 J. Roscoe, " Further Notes on the (Halifax, England, 1903), p. 37). 


succeeded by their sons instead of by their brothers or their 
sisters' sons, then the king's mother and his sisters would 
be forbidden to bear children lest the descent of the 
crown to the king's own children should be endangered by 
the existence of rivals who, according to the old law of the 
kingdom, had a better right to the throne. We may sur- 
mise that the practice of putting the king's brothers to 
death at the beginning of his reign, which survived till 
Uganda passed under English protection, 1 was instituted at 
the same time as the prohibition of child-bearing laid on the 
king's mother and sisters. The one custom got rid of exist- 
ing rivals ; the other prevented them from being born. That 
the kingship in Uganda was formerly transmitted in the 
female line is strongly indicated by the rule that the kings 
and the rest of the royal family take their totems from their 
mothers, whereas all the other people of the country get 
their totems from their fathers. 2 

in Loango In Loango the blood royal is traced in the female line, 
thebiood re an d nere a l so the princesses are free to choose and divorce 
royal is their husbands at pleasure, and to cohabit at the same time 
the female w ^ tn other men. These husbands are nearly always plebeians, 
line, the f or princes and princesses, who are very numerous and form 

princesses , . . , 

are free to a ruling caste in the country, may not marry each other. 1 he 
cohabit i ot: o f a p r i nce consort is not a happy one, for he is rather the 

with whom 

they slave and prisoner than the mate of his imperious princess. 

please, and j n marr ying her he engages never more to look at a woman 

sorts are during the whole time he cohabits with his royal spouse. 

thdrskvK When he goes out he is preceded by guards who drive away 
all females from the road where he is to pass. If in spite of 
these precautions he should by ill-luck cast his eyes on a 
woman, the princess may have his head chopped off, and 
commonly exercises, or used to exercise, the right. This 
sort of libertinism, sustained by power, often carries the 
princesses to the greatest excesses, and nothing is so much 

1 C. T. Wilson and R. W. Felkin, Roscoe says : " The royal family traces 
Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan its pedigree through the maternal clan, 
(London, 1882), i. 200; J. Roscoe, but the nation through the paternal 
"Further Notes on the Manners and clan." But he here refers to the de- 
Customs of the Baganda,"y<wra/ of scent of the totem only. That the 
t-he Anthropological Institute, xxxii. throne descends from father to son is 
(1902) p. 67. proved by the genealogical tables which 

2 J. Roscoe, op. cit. pp. 27, 62. Mr. he gives (Plates I. and II.). 


dreaded as their anger. No wonder that commoners in 
general avoid the honour of a royal alliance. Only poor 
and embarrassed men seek it as a protection against their 
creditors and enemies. All the children of such a man by 
such a wife are princes and princesses, and any one of the 
princes may in time be chosen king ; for in Loango the 
crown is not hereditary but elective. 1 Thus it would seem 
that the father of the King of Loango is nearly always a 
plebeian, and often little better than a slave. 

Near the Chambezi river, which falls into Lake Ben- similar 
gweolo in Central Africa, there is a small state governed by "^^ by 
a queen who belongs to the reigning family of Ubemba. queens in 
She bears the title of Mamfumer or Mother of Kings. 
" The privileges attached to this dignity are numerous. The 
most singular is that the queens may choose for themselves 
their husband among the common people. . The chosen 
man becomes prince-consort without sharing in the admin- 
istration of affairs. He is bound to leave everything to 
follow his royal and often but little accommodating spouse. 
To shew that in these households the rights are inverted 
and that a man may be changed into a woman, the queen 
takes the title of Monsieur and her husband that of 
Madame" 2 

At Athens, as at Rome, we find traces of succession Traces of 
to the throne by marriage with a royal princess ; for two decent of 
of the most ancient kings of Athens, namely Cecrops and the kin s- 

. , . .1111 r snl P m 

Amphictyon, are said to have married the daughters of ancient 
their predecessors. 8 This tradition is confirmed by the Greece - 
evidence, which I shall adduce presently, that at Athens 
male kinship was preceded by female kinship. 

1 Proyart's "History of Loango," slave and may be put' to death by her. 

in Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, All the sisters of the King of Loango 

xvi. 570, 579 sq. ; L. Degrandpre, enjoy these arbitrary rights over their 

Voyage a la cdte occidentals d'Afrique husbands, and the offspring of any of 

(Paris, 1 80 1), pp. 110-114; A.Bastian, them may become king. 

Die deutsche Expedition an der Loango , ,-, ,, ... / 

.. f ,. 2 Father Guilleme, " Au Ben- 

Kuste. i. 197 sag. Time seems not , , ,,. . ~ ', ,. 

. : ., , . , , poueolo, Missions Lathohqucs. xxxiv. 

to have mitigated the lot of these * > The writer visited the 

unhappy prince consorts. See RE J * JJj had . 

Dennett, At the Back of the Black 

.. , ... , /T j queen, a woman of gigantic stature, 

Mans Mind (London, 1906), pp. 36 . 

,., x wearing many amulets. 

sg. , 134. Mr. Dennett says that the 

husband of a princess is virtually her 3 Pausanias, i. 2. 6. 


with this Further, if I am right in supposing that in ancient 

rule of Latium the royal families kept their daughters at home and 

descent of * 

the king- sent forth their sons to marry princesses and reign among 
rule over* tne i f wives' people, it will follow that the male descendants 
different would reign in successive generations over different kingdoms. 
in^suc " 15 Now this seems to have happened both in ancient Greece 
cessive an d j n ancient Sweden ; from which we may legitimately 
tions. infer that it was a custom practised by more than one 
branch of the Aryan stock in Europe. Take, for instance, 
the great house of Aeacus, the grandfather of Achilles and 
Migrations Ajax. Aeacus himself reigned in Aegina, but his descend- 
descrad^ 16 ants > as nas been justly observed, " from the beginning went 
ants of forth to other lands." l His son Telamon migrated to the 
:us ' island of Salamis, married the king's daughter, and reigned 
over the country. 2 Telamon's son Teucer, in his turn, 
migrated to Cyprus, wedded the king's daughter, and suc- 
ceeded his father-in-law on the throne. 3 Again, Peleus, 
another son of Aeacus, quitted his native land and went 
away to Phthia in Thessaly, where he received the hand of 
the king's daughter, and with her a third of the kingdom. 4 
Of Achilles, the son of Peleus, we are told that in his youth 
he v/as sent to the court of Lycomedes, King of Scyros, 
where he got one of the princesses with child. 5 The tradi- 
tion seems to shew that Achilles followed the custom of his 
family in seeking his fortune in a foreign land. His son 
Neoptolemus, after him, went away to Epirus, where he 
settled and became the ancestor of the kings of the country. 6 
Migrations Again, Tydeus was a son of Oeneus, the King of 
descend 1 - 3 " & Calydon in Aetolia, but he went to Argos and married the 
ants of king's daughter. 7 His son Diomede migrated to Daunia in 
Italy, where he helped the king in a war with his enemies, 
receiving as his reward the king's daughter in marriage and 

1 Pausanias, ii. 29. 4. I have to 450. Compare Pausanias, ii. 29. 
thank Mr. H. M. Chadwick for point- 4. 

ing out the following Greek and 4 Apollodorus, iii. 13. I. Accord- 
Swedish parallels to what I conceive ing to Diodorus Siculus (iv. 72. 6), 
to have been the Latin practice. the king of Phthia was childless, and 

2 Diodorus Siculus, iv. 72. 7. Ac- bequeathed his kingdom to Peleus. 
cording to Apollodorus (iii. 12. 7), 6 Apollodorus, iii. 13. 8 ; Hyginus, 
Cychreus, King of Salamis, died child- Fabttlae, 96. 

less, and bequeathed his kingdom to 6 Pausanias, i. II. I sq. ; Justin, 

Telamon. xvii. 3. 

3 J. Tzetzes, Schol. on Lycophron, 7 Apollodorus, i. 8. 5. 


part of the kingdom. 1 As another example we may take 
the family of the Pelopidae, whose tragic fortunes the Greek 
poets never wearied of celebrating. Their ancestor was 
Tantalus, King of Sipylus in Asia Minor. But his son 
Pelops passed into Greece, won Hippodamia, the daughter 
of the King of Pisa, in the famous chariot-race, and suc- 
ceeded his father-in-law on the throne. 2 His son Atreus 
did not remain in Pisa, but migrated to Mycenae, of which 
he became king ; 3 and in the next generation Merielaus, 
son of Atreus, went to Sparta, where he married Helen, the 
king's daughter, and himself reigned over the country. 4 
Further, it is very notable that, according to the old lyric 
poets, Agamemnon himself, the elder brother of Menelaus, 
reigned not at Mycenae but in Lacedaemon, the native land 
of his wife Clytaemnestra, and that he was buried at 
Amyclae, the ancient capital of the country. 6 

Various reasons are assigned by ancient Greek writers These 
for these migrations of the princes. A common one is that 

the king's son had been banished for murder. This would stood in 
explain very well why he fled his own land, but it is no 
reason at all why he should become king of another. We 
may suspect that such reasons are afterthoughts devised by 
writers who, accustomed to the rule that a son should 
succeed to his father's property and kingdom, were hard put 
to it to account for so many traditions of kings' sons who 
quitted the land of their birth to reign over a foreign 

In Scandinavian tradition we meet with traces of similar Traces of 
customs. For we read of daughters' husbands who received 

a share of the kingdoms of their royal fathers-inrlaw, even in Scan- 
when these fathers-in-law had sons of their own ; in par- tra dition. 
ticular, during the five generations which preceded Harold 
the Fair-haired, male members of the Ynglingar family, 
which is said to have come from Sweden, are reported in 

1 Antoninus Liberalis, Transform. 3 Thucydides, i. 9 ; Strabo, viii. 6. 

37; Ovid, Metam. xiv. 459 sq., 510 19, p. 377. 

sq. Compare Virgil, Aen. xi. 243 4 Apollodorus, iii. 10. 8. 

3 Diodorus, iv. 73 ; Hyginus, Fabu- 6 Schol. on Euripides, Orestes, 46 ; 

lac, 82-84; Servius, on Virgil, Georg. Pindar, Pyth. xi. 31 sq. ; Pausanias, 

iii. 7. iii. 19. 6. 



A reminis- 
cence of 
the trans- 
mission of 
the king- 
women is 
in popular 

the king- 
ship is an 

the Heimskringla or Sagas of the Norwegian Kings to have 
obtained at least six provinces in Norway by marriage with 
the daughters of the local kings. 1 

Thus it would seem that among some Aryan peoples, 
at a certain stage of their social evolution, it has been 
customary to regard women and not men as the channels in 
which royal blood flows, and to bestow the kingdom in each 
successive generation on a man of another family, and often 
of another country, who marries one of the princesses and 
reigns over his wife's people. A common type of popular 
tale, which relates how an adventurer, coming to a strange 
land, wins the hand of the king's daughter and with her the 
half or the whole of the kingdom, may well be a reminiscence 
of a real custom. 2 

Where usages and ideas of this sort prevail, it is obvious 
that the kingship is merely an appanage of marriage with a 
woman of the blood royal. The old Danish historian Saxo 
Grammaticus puts this view of the kingship very clearly in 

1 H. M. Chadwick, The Origin of 
the English Nation (Cambridge, 1907), 
pp. 332 sq. In treating of the succes- 
sion to the kingdom in Scandinavia, 
the late K. Maurer, one of the highest 
authorities on old Norse law, also re- 
marked that "some ancient authorities 
(Quellenberichte) profess to know of a 
certain right of succession accorded to 
women, in virtue of which under cer- 
tain circumstances, though they could 
not themselves succeed to the king- 
dom, they nevertheless could convey 
it to their husbands." And he cites a 
number of instances, how one king 
(Eysteinn Halfdanarson) succeeded his 
father-in-law (Eirikr Agnarsson) on 
the throne ; how another (Gudrodr 
Halfdanarson) received with his wife 
Alfhildr a portion of her father's king- 
dom ; and so on. See K. Maurer, 
Vorlesungen iiber altnordische Rechts- 
geschichte, i. (Leipsic, 1907) pp. 233 sq. 

* G. W. Dasent, Popular Tales from 
the Norse, pp. 131 sqq. ; S. Grundtvig, 
Ddnische Volksmarchen, First Series 
(Leipsic, 1878), pp.' 285 sqq. (Leo's 
German translation) ; Cavallius und 
Stephens, Schiuedische Volkssagen und 
Marchen, No. 4, pp. 62 sqq. (Ober- 
leitner's German translation) ; Grimm, 

Household Tates, No. 60; Kuhn und 
Schwartz, Norddeutsche Sagen, Marchen 
und Gebrduche, pp. 340 sqq. ; J. W. 
Wolf, Deutsche Hausmarchen, pp. 372 
sqq. ; Philo vom Walde, Schlesien in 
Sage und Brauch, pp. 81 sqq. ; I. V. 
Zingerle, Kinder- und Hausmiirchen 
aus Tirol, No. 8, pp. 35 sqq. No. 35, 
pp. 178 sqq. ; J. Haltrich, Deutsche 
Volksmarchen aus dtin Sachsenlande in 
Siebenburgen* No. 15, pp. 103 sqq. ; 
J. F. Campbell, Popular Tales of 
the West Highlands, No. 4, vol. i. pp. 
77 sqq. ; A. Schleicher, Litauische 
Marchen, Sprich-worte, Ratsel und 
Lieder, pp. 57 sqq. ; A. Leskien und 
K. Brugmann, Litauische Volkslieder 
und Marchen, No. 14, pp. 404 
sqq. ; Basile, Pentamerone, First day, 
seventh tale, vol. i. pp. 97 sqq. 
(Liebrecht's German translation) ; E. 
Legrand, Contes populaires grecques, 
pp. 169 sqq. ; J. G. von Hahn, 
Griechische und albanesische Marchen, 
No. 98, vol. ii. pp. 114 sq. ; A. und 
A. Schott, Walac hische Maehrchen, No. 
10, pp. 140 sqq. ; W. Webster, Basque 
Legends, pp. 36-38 ; A. Schiefner, 
Aivarische Texte (St. Petersburg, 1873), 
No. 2, pp. 21 sqq. ; J. Riviere, Contes 
populaires de la Kabylie, pp 195-197. 


the mouth of Hermutrude, a legendary queen of Scotland, appanage 
and her statement is all the more significant because, as we ril^Twith 
shall see presently, it reflects the actual practice of the Pictish a princess, 
kings. " Indeed she was a queen," says Hermutrude, " and 
but that her sex gainsaid it, might be deemed a king ; nay 
(and this is yet truer), whomsoever she thought worthy of 
her bed was at once a king, and she yielded her kingdom 
with herself. Thus her sceptre and her hand went together." l 
Wherever a custom of this sort is observed, a man may clearly 
acquire the kingdom just as well by marrying the widow as 
the daughter of his predecessor. This is what Aegisthus 
did at Mycenae, and what Hamlet's uncle Feng and Hamlet's 
successor Wiglet did in Denmark ; all three slew their pre- 
decessors, married their widows, and then sat peacefully on 
the throne. 2 The tame submission of the people to their 
rule would be intelligible, if they regarded the assassins, in 
spite of their crime, as the lawful occupants of the throne 
by reason of their marriage with the widowed queens. 
Similarly, Gyges murdered Candaules, King of Lydia, 
married his queen, and reigned over the country. 3 Nor was The 
this the only instance of such a succession in the history of ki ^ ^ 
Lydia. The wife of King Cadys conspired against his life apparently 
with her paramour Spermus, and though her husband ^ t ed 
recovered from the dose of poison which she administered through 
to him, he died soon afterwards, and the adulterer married w 
his leman and succeeded to the throne. 4 These cases excite 
a suspicion that in the royal house of Lydia descent was 
traced in the female line, and the suspicion is strengthened 
by the legendary character of Omphale, the ancestress of 
the dynasty. For she is represented as a masculine but 
dissolute queen of the Semiramis type, who wore male 
attire and put all her favoured lovers to death, while on the 
other hand her consort Hercules was her purchased slave, 

1 Saxo Grammaticus, Historic, Chadwick tells me that Hamlet stands 

Danica, bk. iv. p. 126 (Elton's on the border-line between legend and 

translation). The passage occurs on history. Hence the main outlines of 

p. 158 of P. -E. M tiller's edition of his story may be correct. 

, TT . . 3 Herodotus, i. 7-13. 

1 The story of Hamlet (Amleth) is 

told, in a striking form, by Saxo * Nicolaus Damascenus, vi. frag. 49, 

Grammaticus in the third and fourth in Fragmenta Historicorum Graecortitii, 
books of his histoiy. Mr. H. M. ed. C. Miiller, iii. 380. 











of Canute 
with the 
widow of 
his pre- 

was treated with indignity, and went about dressed as 
a woman. 1 This plainly implies that the queen was 
a far more powerful and important personage than the 
king, as would naturally happen wherever it is the 
queen who confers royalty on her consort at marriage 
instead of receiving it from him. The story that she 
prostituted the daughters of the Lydians to their male slaves 2 
is of a piece with the tradition that she herself married 
her slave Hercules. It may mean little more than that 
the Lydians were indifferent to paternity, and that the 
children of freewomen by slaves ranked as free. Such an 
indifference to fatherhood, coupled with the ancient accounts 
of the loose morals of the Lydian girls, who were accustomed 
to earn a dowry by prostitution, 3 is a mark of the system 
of female kinship. Hence we may conjecture that 
Herodotus was wrong in saying that from Hercules to 
Candaules the crown of Lydia had descended for twenty- 
two generations from father to son. 4 The old mode of 
transmitting the crown of Lydia through women probably 
did not end with Candaules. At least we are told that his 
murderer and successor Gyges, like Hercules, the mythical 
founder of the dynasty, gave himself and his kingdom into 
the hands of the woman he loved, and that when she died 
he collected all the slaves from the country round about and 
raised in her memory a mound so lofty that it could be 
seen from every part of the Lydian plain, and for centuries 
after was known as the Harlot's Tomb. 5 

When Canute the Dane had been acknowledged King of 
England, he married Emma, the widow of his predecessor 
Ethelred, whose throne he had overturned and whose 
children he had driven into exile. The marriage has not 
unnaturally puzzled the historians, for Emma was much 

1 Athenaeus, xii. n, pp. 515 F-5i6 
B ; Apollodorus, ii. 6. 3 ; Diodorus 
Siculus, iv. 31 ; Joannes Lydus, De 
magistratibuS) iii. 64 ; Lucian, Dialogi 
dfonttn, xiii. 2 ; Ovid, Heroides, ix. 
55 sqq. ; Statius, Theb. x. 646-649. 

2 Athenaeus, I.e. 

8 Herodotus, i. 93 ; Clearchus, 
quoted by Athenaeus, xii. II, p. 516 
A B. The Armenians also prostituted 
their daughters before marriage, dedi- 

cating them for a long time to the 
profligate worship of the goddess 
Anaitis (Strabo, xi. 14. 1 6, p. 532 
sq.). The custom was probably prac- 
tised as a charm to secure the fertility 
of the earth as well as of man and 
beast. See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 
Second Edition, pp. 32 sqq. 

4 Herodotus, i. 7. 

6 Clearchus, quoted by Athenaeus, 
xiii. 31, p. 573 A B. 


older than her second husband, she was then living in 
Normandy, and it is very doubtful whether Canute had 
ever seen her before she became his bride. All, however, 
becomes plain if, as the cases of Feng and Wiglet seem 
to shew, it was an old Danish custom that marriage with 
a king's widow carried the kingdom with it as a matter 
of right. In that case the young but prudent Canute 
married the mature widow merely out of policy in order to 
clinch, according to Danish notions, by a legal measure his 
claim to that crown which he had already won for himself 
by the sword. 1 Among the Saxons and their near kinsmen 
the Varini it appears to have been a regular custom for the 
new king to marry his stepmother. Thus Hermegisclus, 
King of the Varini, on his deathbed enjoined his son Radigis 
to wed his stepmother in accordance with their ancestral 
practice, and his injunction was obeyed. 2 Edbald, King of 
Kent, married his stepmother after the death of his father 
Ethelbert ; 3 and as late as the ninth century Ethelbald, 
King of the West Saxons, wedded Judith, the widow of 
his father Ethelwulf. 4 Such marriages are intelligible 
if we suppose that old Saxon as well as old Danish law 
gave the kingdom to him who married the late king's 

To the view that the right to the Latin kingship was Traces of 
derived from women and not from men, it may be objected ^ e fe s ^ s a \ e e m 
that the system of female kinship or mother-kin is unknown kinship 
among the Aryans, 5 and that even if faint traces of it may ^ a ^ l 
be met with elsewhere, the last place in the world where we 
should look for it would be Rome, the stronghold of the 
patriarchal family. To meet this objection it is necessary 
to point to some facts which appear to be undoubted 

1 See E. A. Freeman, History of Anglorttm, ii. 5. 102 ; compare i. 27. 
the Norman Conquest of England, i. 3 63. 

410-412, 733-737. I am indebted to 4 Prudentius Trecensis," "Annales," 

my friend Mr. H. M. Chadwick both anno 858, in Pertz's Monumenta 

for the fact and its explanation. Germaniae kistorica, i. 451 ; Ingulfus, 

2 Procopius, De hello Gothico, iv. 20 Historia, quoted ibid. 

(vol. ii. p. 593, ed. J. Haury). This and 5 This is in substance the view of 

the following cases of marriage with a Dr. W. E. Hearn ( The Aryan House- 

stepmother are cited by K. Weinhold, hold, pp. 150-155) and of Prof. B. 

Deutsche Frauen* (Vienna, 1882), ii. Delbriick ("Das Mutterrecht bei den 

359 sq. Indogermanen," Preussische Jahr- 

3 Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis bucher t Ixxix. (1895) pp. 14-27). 





among the 


the Epi- 



the Cant- 


and the 


survivals among Aryan peoples of a custom of tracing 
descent through the mother only. 

In Attica tradition ran that of old the women were the 
common property of the men, who coupled with them like 
beasts, so that while every one knew his mother, nobody 
knew who his father was. This system of sexual com- 
munism was abolished by Cecrops, the first King of Athens, 
who introduced individual marriage in its place. 1 Little 
weight could be attached to this tradition, if it were not 
supported to a certain extent by the Attic usage which 
always allowed a man to marry his half-sister by the same 
father but not his half-sister by the same mother. 2 Such a 
rule seems clearly to be a relic of a time when kinship was 
counted only through women. Again, the Epizephyrian 
Locrians in Italy traced all ancestral distinction in the 
female, not the male line. Among them the nobles were 
the members of the hundred houses from whom were chosen 
by lot the maidens to be sent to Troy. 3 For in order, it is 
said, to expiate the sacrilege committed by the Locrian Ajax 
when he violated Cassandra in the sanctuary of Athena at 
Troy, the cities of Locris used annually to send to the 
Trojan goddess two maidens, whom the Trojans slew, and, 
burning their bodies on the wood of certain trees which bore 
no fruit, threw the ashes into the sea. If the maidens con- 
trived to escape they took refuge in the sanctuary of Athena, 
which they thenceforth swept and washed, never quitting it 
except at night, and always going barefoot, shorn, and clad 
in a single garment. The custom is said to have been 
observed for a thousand years down to the fourth century 
before our era. 4 Among the Locrians, as elsewhere, the 

1 Clearchus of Soli, quoted by 
Athenaeus, xiii. 2. p. 555 D ; John of 
Antioch, in Fragmenta Historicorttm 
Graecorum, ed. C. Miiller, iv. 547 ; 
Charax of Pergamus ib. iii. 638 ; 
J. Tzetzes, Schol. on Lycophron, III; 
id. , Chiliades, v. 650-665 ; Suidas, 
r.z>. Ktupoif' ; Justin, ii. 6. 7. 

2 '0 fdv ott> ' A6-rivaios "Z6\wv O/JLOTTO.- 
rplovs <pfh Hyeadau, TOS 6/j.o/j.riTplovs 
K(!)\vffev, o S A.a.Kedai/jiot>iui> vo/j.o6trt]s 
H(j.ira.\iv, rbv eirl rats dfJ.oya.ffT plots yd/j.oi> 
tirirpl\}/a.s, rbv irpbs ras 6/jLOTrarpiovs 

direlirev, Philo Judaeus, De spcrialibus 
legibus, vol. ii. p. 303, ed. Th. Mangey. 
See also Plutarch, Themistocles, 32 ; 
Cornelius Nepos, Cimon, I ; Schol. 
on Aristophanes, Cloiids, 1371 ; L. 
Beauchet, Histoire du droit privt de 
la Rtpublique Athtnienne, i. (Paris, 
1897) pp. 165 sqq. Compare Minucius 
Felix, Octavius, 31. 

3 Polybius, xii. 5. 

4 Strabo, xiii. I. 40, pp. 600 sq. ; 
Plutarch, De sera ntimim's vindicta, 
12 ; and especially Lycophron, Cas- 


system of female kinship would seem to have gone hand in 
hand with dissolute morals ; for there is reason to think 
that of old the Locrians, like the Lydians and Armenians, 
had been wont to prostitute their daughters before marriage, 
though in later times the custom fell into abeyance. 1 The 
Cantabrians of Spain seem also to have had mother-kin ; 
for among them it was the daughters who inherited property 
and who portioned out their brothers in marriage. 2 Again, 
the ancient Germans deemed the tie between a man and his 
sister's children as close as that between a father and his 
children ; indeed some regarded the bond as even closer and 
more sacred, and therefore in exacting hostages they chose 
the children of a man's sister rather than his own children, 
believing that this gave them a firmer hold on the family. 3 
The superiority thus assigned to the maternal uncle over the 
father is an infallible mark of mother-kin, either present 
or past, as may be observed, for instance, in very many 
African tribes to this day, among whom both property and 
political power pass, not from father to son, but from the 
maternal uncle to his nephews. 4 Similarly, in Melanesia 
the close relation of the mother's brother to his nephew is 
maintained even where the system of relationship has become 
patriarchal. 5 Amongst the Germans in the time of Tacttus, 
it is true, a man's heirs were his own children, 6 but the 
mother's brother could never have attained the position he 
held except under a system of maternal descent. Another 
vestige of mother-kin among a Teutonic people appears 
to be found in the Salic law. For it was a custom with the 
Salian Franks that when a widow married again, a price 
had to be paid to her family, and in laying down the order 
in which her kinsmen were entitled to receive this payment 

sandra, 1141 sqq., with the scholia of i. 13 sqq. ; Sir Harry H. Johnston, 

J. Tzetzes, who refers to Timaeus and British Central Africa, p. 471 ; A. B. 

Callimachus as his authorities. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the 

1 Justin, xxi. 3. 1-6. Gold Coast, pp. 297 sq. ; id., The 

2 Strabo, iii. 4. 18. Ewe- speaking Peoples of the Slave 

3 Tacitus, Germania, 20. Compare Coast, pp. 207 sqq. Much more evi- 
L. Dargun, Mutterrecht ttnd Raubche dence will be found in my Totemism 
tind ihre Reste im germanischen Recht and Exogamy. 
rf^fc(Breslau, 1883) pp. 21 sq 6 R R Codri t Th 

< A. Giraud-Teulon Les Onpnes du g ^ * 

manage et de lafamille, pp. 206 sqq. ; 
A. H. Post, Afrikanische Jurisprudent, 8 Tacitus, Germania, 20. 


the law gave a decided preference to the female over the 
male line ; thus the first person entitled to claim the money 
was the eldest son of the widow's sister. 1 

Among the It is a moot point whether the Picts of Scotland be- 
Pictsthe i on cred to the Aryan family or not; 2 but among them the 

kingship 6 J .,11 T 

was trans- kingdom was certainly transmitted through women. Bede 
through te ^ s us tnat down to his own time, in the early part of the 
women eighth century, whenever a doubt arose as to the succession, 
the Picts chose their king from the female rather than the 
male line. 3 The statement is amply confirmed by historical 
evidence. For we possess a list of the Pictish kings and 
their fathers which was drawn up in the reign of Cenaed, 
King of the Scots, towards the end of the tenth century ; 
and for the period from the year 583 to the year 840 the 
register is authenticated by the Irish Annals of Tigernach 
and Ulster. Now, it is significant that in this list the fathers 
of the kings are never themselves kings ; in other words, no 
king was succeeded on the throne by his son. Further, if 
we may judge by their names, the fathers of the Pictish 
kings were not Picts but foreigners men of Irish, Cymric, 
or English race. The inference from these facts seems to be 
that among the Picts the royal family was exogamous, and 
that the crown descended in the female line ; in other words, 
that the princesses married men of another clan or even of 
another race, and that their issue by these strangers sat on 
the throne, whether they succeeded in a prescribed order 
according to birth, or whether they were elected from among 
the sons of princesses, as the words of Bede might be taken 
to imply. 4 

Another European, though apparently not Aryan, 

1 A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of xv. (1894) Romanistische Abtheilung, 

South- East Australia, pp. 286 sqq. pp. 209 sqq. 

The reipus or payment made on the 3 " Cumque uxores Picti non haben- 

remarriage of a widow is discussed by tes peterent a Scottis, easolum condition* 

L. Dargun, op. cit. pp. 141-152. dare consenserunt, ut ubi res perveniret 

in dubiuni, tnagis de feminea regum 

8 W. F. Skene held that the Picts prosapia quam de masculina regem sibi 

were Celts. See his Celtic Scotland, eligerent ; quod usque hodie apud Pictos 

\. 194-227. On the other hand, H. constat esse servatum" Bede, Historia 

Zimmer supposes them to have been ecdesiastica gentis Anglorum, ii. i. 7. 

the pre-Celtic inhabitants of the British * W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland, i. 

Islands. See his paper "Das Mutter- 232-235 ; J. F. McLennan, Studies in 

recht der Pikten," Zeitschrift der Ancient History (London, 1886), pp. 

Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte, 68-70 ; H. Zimmer, loc. cit. 


people among whom the system of female kinship appears Female 
to have prevailed were the Etruscans. For in Etruscan J^'g the 
sepulchral inscriptions the name of the mother of the Etruscans, 
deceased is regularly recorded along with or even without 
the name of the father ; and where the names of both 
father and mother are mentioned, greater prominence is 
given to the mother's name by writing it in full, whereas 
the father's name is, in accordance with Roman usage, merely 
indicated by an initial. 1 The statement of Theopompus that 
among the Etruscans sexual communism was a recognised 
practice, and that paternity was unknown, 2 may be only an 
exaggerated way of saying that they traced their descent 
through their mothers and not through their fathers. Yet 
apparently in Etruria, as elsewhere, this system of relation- 
ship was combined with a real indifference to fatherhood and 
with the dissolute morals which that indifference implies ; for 
Etruscan girls were wont to earn a dowry by prostitution. 8 
In these customs the Etruscans resembled the Lydians, and 
the similarity confirms the common opinion of antiquity, which 
modern historians have too lightly set aside, that the Etrus- 
cans were of Lydian origin. 4 However that may be, in con- 
sidering the vestiges of mother-kin among the Latins, we 
shall do well to bear in mind that the same archaic mode of 
tracing descent appears to have prevailed among the neigh- 
bouring Etruscans, who not only exercised a powerful influence 
on Rome, but gave her two, if not three, of her kings. 6 

1 K. O. Miiller, Die Etrusker ($>\.\&\.- i. 4; Justin, xx. I. 7; Valerius Maxi- 
gart, 1877), ii. 376 sq. ; J. J. Bachofen, mus, ii. 4. 4 ; Servius, on Virgil, Aen. 
Die Sage von Tanaquil (Heidelberg, i. 67. On the other hand, Dionysius 
1870), pp. 282-290. of Halicarnassus held that the Etrus- 

2 9e67ro/iTroy 5' tv TT) reffffapaKoary cans were an indigenous Italian race, 
rpirri rwv IffropiCiv KO.I v6/j.oi> elval <fn)<ri differing from all other known peoples 
irapa rois Ivpprivois Koivfa virdpxfii' rij in language and customs (Ant. Rom. 
ywacww . . . rptyew rods fvp- j 26-30). On this much-vexed ques- 
pqrofe Trdvra rd. -yvfcMM nrffe, our ti see K Q Muller Die Etrusker 
riSJraf Srov irdrpo, rrfc ?Ka<r, ^ jg ._ fi Q ^K- 
Athenaeus, XH. 14, p. Si? D E. ^ Jj'^^y Etruria z 

3 " Non emm hie, ubi ex Tuseomodo . ... . ' 
_,...,.... ;, . i. pp. xxxni. saa. ; F . Hommel, Gruna- 
Tute tibi tndtgne dotem quaeras cor- /^ .f , ^ i- i* j 
port" (Plautus, CisM/aria, ii. 3. 20 sq. ). derGeographze und Ceschtchte dts 

Herodotus, i. 9 4 ; Strabo, v. 2 2, ^*i*S"*S P l ^J 9 ^ i 

p. 219; Tacitus, Annals, iv. 55 ; V " ^ Uller s Hand ^ **' klasnschen 

Timaeus, cited by Tertullian, De sjxcL Allcrtumswtssenschaft, vol. m.). 
cults, 5 ; Festus, s.v. "Turannos," p. 6 It is doubtful whether Servius Tul- 

355, ed. C. O. Muller ; Plutarch, lius was a Latin or an Etruscan. See 

Romulus, 2 ; Velleius Paterculus, i. above, p. 195, note I. 


Mother-kin It would be neither unnatural nor surprising if among 
maysur- t ^ anc i e nt Latins mother-kin survived in the royal family 

vive in the 

royal after it had been exchanged for father-kin in all others. 
ff h^beer^ For royalty, like religion, is essentially conservative ; it 

exchanged clings to old forms and old customs which have long 

kinhfa'u vanished from ordinary life. Thus in Uganda persons of 

others. royal blood still inherit their totems from their mothers, 

while other people inherit them from their fathers. So in 

Denmark and Scandinavia, as we have seen, the kingdom 

would appear to have been transmitted through women long 

after the family name and property had become hereditary 

in the male line among the people. Sometimes the differ- 

ence in custom between kings and commoners is probably 

based rather on a distinction of race than on varying degrees 

of social progress ; for a dynasty is often a family of alien 

origin who have imposed their rule on their subjects by force 

of arms, as the Normans did on the Saxons, and the 

Sometimes Manchus on the Chinese. More rarely, perhaps, it may 

fngrace*" nave happened that from motives of policy or superstition a 

may have conquering tribe has left a nominal kingship to the members 

nominal f * ne ^ royal house. Such a concession would be most 

kingship likely to be made where the functions of the king were rather 

of The old religious than civil, and where the prosperity of the country 

royal was supposed to depend on the maintenance of the estab- 


lished relations between the people and the gods of the land. 
In that case the new-comers, knowing not how to appease 
and conciliate these strange deities, might be glad to let the 
priestly kings of the conquered race perform the quaint rites 
and mumble the venerable spells, which had been found to 
answer their purpose time out of mind. 1 In a common- 

1 " All over India the hedge-priest . and localised divine entities, with the 

is very often an autochthon, his long occasional languid cult of the greater 

residence in the land being supposed Hindu gods. The propitiation of the 

to confer upon him the knowledge of vague spirits of wood, or cliff, river 

the character and peculiarities of the or lake, they are satisfied to leave in 

local gods, and to teach him the charge of their serfs" (W. Crooke, 

proper mode in which they may be Natives of Northern India, London, 

conciliated. Thus the Doms preserve 1907, pp. 104 sq.). When the Israel- 

to the present day the animistic and ites had been carried away captives 

demonistic beliefs of the aboriginal into Assyria, the new settlers in the 

races, which the Khasiyas, who have desolate land of Israel were attacked 

succeeded them, temper with the wor- by lions, which they supposed to be sent 

ship of the village deities, the named against them by the god of the country 


wealth like the Roman, formed by the union of different This 
stocks, the royal family might thus belong either to the con- 
querors or to the conquered ; in other words, either to the at Rome, 
patricians or to the plebeians. But if we leave out of ma ^y 0f 
account Romulus and Tatius, who are more or less legendary the kings 
figures, and the two Tarquins, who came of a noble Etruscan ^ ^en 
house, all the other Roman kings appear from their names plebeians. 
to have been men of plebeian, not patrician, families. 1 Hence 
it seems probable that they belonged to the indigenous race, 
who may have retained mother-kin, at least in the royal 
succession, after they had submitted to invaders who knew 
father-kin only. 

If that was so, it confirms the view that the old Roman The aboii- 
kingship was essentially a religious office ; for the con- j^^/chy 
querors would be much more ready to leave an office of this at Rome 
sort in the hands of the conquered than a kingship of the been a*"* 
type with which we are familiar. " Let these puppets," they revolution 
might think, " render to the gods their dues, while we rule 

the people in peace and lead them in war." Of such priestly cians 
kings Numa was the type. But not all of his successors the shadow 
were willing to model themselves on his saintly figure and, of sove " 

J ' reignty 

rejecting the pomps and vanities of earth, to devote from the 
themselves to communion with heaven. Some were men of P Ie j*; ians 

and trans - 

strong will and warlike temper, who could not brook the ferred it to 
dull routine of the cloister. They longed to exchange the **** 
stillness and gloom of the temple or the sacred grove for the already 
sunshine, the dust, and the tumult of the battlefield. Such 
men broke bounds, and when they threatened to get com- 
pletely out of hand and turn the tables on the patricians, it 
was time that they should go. This, we may conjecture, 
was the real meaning of the abolition of the kingship at 
Rome. It put an end to the solemn pretence that the state 
was still ruled by the ancient owners of the soil : it took the 
shadow of power from them and gave it to those who had 
long possessed the substance. The ghost of the monarchy 
had begun to walk and grow troublesome : the revolution 
laid it for centuries. 

because, as strangers, they did not know taught them how to worship the God 

how to propitiate him. So they peti- of Israel. See 2 Kings xvii. 24-28. 
tioned the king of Assyria and he sent * H. Jordan, Die JCdnige im alien 

them a native Israelitish priest, who Italien (Berlin, 1884), pp. 15-25. 



At first the But though the effect of the revolution was to substitute 
intention t k e rea j ru i e o f t h e patricians for the nominal rule of the 

seems to 

have been plebeians, the break with the past was at the outset less 
theannuai complete than it seems. For the first two consuls were 
kingshipor both men of the royal blood. One of them, L. Junius 
to rtSd P Brutus, was sister's son of the expelled King Tarquin the 
Proud. 1 As such he would have been the heir to the throne 
under a strict system of mother-kin. The other consul, 
L. Tarquinius Collatinus, was a son of the late king's cousin 
Egerius. 2 These facts suggest that the first intention of the 
revolutionaries was neither to abolish the kingship nor to 
wrest it from the royal family, but, merely retaining the 
hereditary monarchy, to restrict its powers. To achieve this 
object they limited the tenure of office to a year and doubled 
the number of the kings, who might thus be expected to 
check and balance each other. But it is not impossible 
that both restrictions were merely the revival of old rules which 
the growing power of the kings had contrived for a time to 
set aside in practice. The legends of Romulus and Remus, 
and afterwards of Romulus and Tatius, may be real reminis- 
cences of a double kingship like that of Sparta ; 3 and in 
the yearly ceremony of the Regifugium or Flight of the 
King we seem to detect a trace of an annual, not a life- 
long, tenure of office. 4 The same thing may perhaps be 
true of the parallel change which took place at Athens when 
the people deprived the Medontids of their regal powers and 
reduced them from kings to responsible magistrates, who 
held office at first for life, but afterwards only for periods 
of ten years. 5 Here, too, the limitation of the tenure of 
the kingship may have been merely the reinforcement of 
an old custom which had fallen into abeyance. At Rome, 
however, the attempt to maintain the hereditary principle, 
if it was made at all, was almost immediately abandoned, 
and the patricians openly transferred to themselves the 

1 Livy, i. 56. 7 ; Dionysius Hali- consulship was a revival of a double 

carnasensis, Ant. Rom. iv. 68. I. kingship. 

1 Livy, i. 34. 2 sq., i. 38. I, i. 57. 4 As to the Regifugium see below, 

6 ; Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. pp. 308-310. 
Rom. iv. 64. 6 Pausanias, iv. 5. 10 ; G. Gilbert, 

3 I owe to Mr. A. B. Cook the Handbuch der griech. Staatsalterthii- 

interesting suggestion that the double mer, i. 2 122 sj. 


double kingship, which thenceforth was purely elective, and 
was afterwards known as the consulship. 1 

The history of the last king of Rome, Tarquin the The aboiu 
Proud, leads us to suspect that the offence which he gave j^^^y 
by his ambitious and domineering character was heightened at Rome 
by an attempt to shift the succession of the kingship from hTve'been 
the female to the male line. He himself united both rights hastened 
in his own person ; for he had married the daughter of his at^e'mpt 
predecessor, Servius Tullius, and he was the son or grand- of the last 
son of Tarquin the Elder, 2 who preceded Servius Tullius on shift the 
the throne. But in asserting his right to the crown, if we succession 

, from the 

can trust Roman history on this point, Tarquin the Proud female to 
entirely ignored his claim to it through women as the |. he male 
son-in-law of his predecessor, and insisted only on his claim 
in the male line as the son or grandson of a former king. 3 
And he evidently intended to bequeath the kingdom to one 
of his sons ; for he put out of the way two of the men 
who, if the succession had been through women in the 
way I have indicated, would have been entitled to sit 
on the throne before his own sons, and even before 
himself. One of these was his sister's husband, the 
other was her elder son. Her younger son, the famous 
Lucius Junius Brutus, only escaped the fate of his father 
and elder brother by feigning, like Hamlet, imbecility, and 
thus deluding his wicked uncle into the belief that he had 
nothing to fear from such a simpleton. 4 This design of 

1 The two supreme magistrates who ordinary hypothesis is exposed if Ser- 
replaced the kings were at first called vius Tullius reigned, as he is said to 
praetors. See Livy, iii. 55. 12 ; have reigned, forty- four years. See 
B. G. Niebuhr, History of Rome, 3 i. Dionysius Halic. Ant, Rom. iv. 6 sq, 
520 sq. ; Th. Mommsen, Rb'misches 3 Livy, i. 48. 2 ; Dionysius Halic. 
Staatsrecht, iL 3 74 sqq. That the Ant. Rom. iv. 31 sq. and 46. 

power of the first consuls was, with 4 Livy, i. 56 ; Dionysius Halic. 

the limitations indicated in the text, Ant. Rom. iv. 67-69, 77 ; Valerius 

that of the old kings is fully recog- Maximus, vii. 3. 2 ; Aurelius Victor, 

nised by Livy (ii. 1 . 7 sq. ). De viris illustribus, x. The murder 

2 It was a disputed point whether of Brutus's father and brother is re- 
Tarquin the Proud was the son or corded by Dionysius ; the other writers 
grandson of Tarquin the Elder. Most mention the assassination of his brother 
writers, and Liyy (i. 46. 4) among only. The resemblance between 
them, held that he was a son. Diony- Brutus and Hamlet has been pointed 
sius of Halicarnassus, on the other out before. See F. York Powell, in 
hand, argued that he must have been Elton's translation of Saxo Grammati- 
a grandson ; he insists strongly on the cus's Danish History (London, 1894), 
chronological difficulties to which the pp. 405-^10. 


Tarquin to alter the line of succession from the female to the 
male side of the house may have been the last drop which filled 
his cup of high-handed tyranny to overflowing. At least it is a 
strange coincidence, if it is nothing more, that he was deposed by 
the man who, under a system of female kinship, was the right- 
ful heir, and who in a sense actually sat on the throne from 
which he pushed his uncle. For the curule chair of the consul 
was little less than the king's throne under a limited tenure. 
The here- It has often been asked whether the Roman monarchy 

cMe^does"" was hereditary or elective. The question implies an opposi- 
not neces- tion between the two modes of succession which by no 
exclude means necessarily exists. As a matter of fact, in many 
the elective African tribes at the present day the succession to the 
cessionTo a kingdom or the chieftainship is determined by a corn- 
monarchy ; bination of the hereditary and the elective principle, that 
African is, the kings or chiefs are chosen by the people or by a 
chieftain- body of electors from among the members of the royal 

ships or J J 

kingships family. And as the chiefs have commonly several wives 

heredharv an< ^ man y children by them, the number of possible 

and dec- candidates may be not inconsiderable. For example, we 

are told, that " the government of the Banyai is rather 

Sometimes peculiar, being a sort of feudal republicanism. The chief 

chosen is elected, and they choose the son of the deceased chief's 

om sister in preference to his own offspring. When dissatisfied 

families in with one candidate, they even go to a distant tribe for a 

lon> successor, who is usually of the family of the late chief, a 

brother, or a sister's son, but never his own son or daughter. 

When first spoken to on the subject, he answers as if he 

thought himself unequal to the task and unworthy of the 

honour, but, having accepted it, all the wives, goods, and 

children of his predecessor belong to him, and he takes care 

to keep them in a dependent position." Among these 

people " the children of the chief have fewer privileges than 

common free men. They may not be sold, but, rather than 

choose any one of them for a chief at any future time, the 

free men would prefer to elect one of themselves who bore 

only a very distant relationship to the family." l 

1 D. Livingstone, Missionary are given by A. H. Post, Afrikanische 
Travels and Researches in South Africa, Jurisprudenz (Oldenburg and Leipsic), 
pp. 617 sq. Many more examples i. 134 sqq. 


Sometimes the field of choice is extended still further chiefs and 
by a rule that the chief may or must be chosen from one ^"f c s a m 
of several families in a certain order. Thus among the elected 
Bangalas of the Cassange Valley in Angola the chief is 5^ 
elected from three families in rotation. 1 And Diagara, a families in 
country bordering on Senegambia, is ruled by an absolute r 
monarch who is chosen alternately from two families, one 
of which lives in Diapina and the other in Badumar. 2 
In the Winamwanga tribe, to the south of Lake Tangan- 
yika, " the first male child born to a chief after he succeeds 
to the chieftainship is the natural heir, but many years 
ago there were two claimants to the throne, whose sup- 
porters were about equal, and to avoid a civil war the 
following arrangement was made. One of them was 
allowed to reign, but the other claimant or his son was to 
succeed him. This was carried out, so that now there are 
continually alternate dynasties." 3 So in the Matse tribe 
of Togoland in West Africa, there are two royal families 
descended from two women, which supply a king alternately. 
Hence the palm forest which belongs to the crown is 
divided into two parts ; the reigning king has the right to 
one part, and the representative of the other royal house has 
a right to the other part. 4 Among the Yorubas in western 
Africa the sovereign chief is always taken from one or more 
families which have the hereditary right of furnishing the 
community with rulers. In many cases the succession 
passes regularly from one to a second family alternately ; 
but in one instance, apparently unique, the right of 
succession to the sovereignty seems to be possessed by 
four princely families, from each of which the head chief is 
elected in rotation. The principle of primogeniture is not 
necessarily followed in the election, but the choice of the 
electors must always fall on one who is related to a former 
chief in the male line. For paternal descent alone is 

1 D. Livingstone, op. cit. p. 434. Manners and Customs of the Winam- 

2 H. Hecquard, Reise an die Kiiste wanga and Wiwa," Journal of the 
und in das Innere von West-Afrika African Society, No. 36 (July 1910), 
(Leipsic, 1854), p. 104. This and p. 384. 

the preceding example are cited by 

A. II. Post, I.e. * J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stamme (Ber- 

3 J. A. Chisholm, "Notes on the lin, 1906), pp. 784 jf. 




Chiefs and 

Africa' 11 

families in 
lon ' 


of Assam, 
aiso, the 


to the 


recognised in Yorubaland, where even the greatest chief may 
ta ^ e to w *k a woman f ^ e l west rank. Sometimes the 
choice of the ruling chief is made by divine authority, inti- 
mated to the people through the high priest of the principal 
god of the district. 1 Among the Igaras, on the lower 
Niger, the royal family is divided into four branches, each 
of which provides a king in turn. The capital and its 
district, both of which bear the name of Idah, are always 
occupied by the reigning branch of the royal family, while 
the three other branches, not being allowed to live there, 
retreat into the interior. Hence at the death of a king a 
double change takes place. On the one hand the late 
reigning family, with all their dependants, have to leave the 
homes in which many of them have been born and brought 
up, and to migrate to towns in the forest, which they know 
only by name. On the other hand, the new reigning 
family come into the capital, and their people settle in the 
houses occupied by their forefathers four reigns ago. The 
king is generally elected by the leading men of his branch 
of the royal family ; they choose the richest and most 
powerful of their number. 2 

Again, among the Khasis of Assam we meet with the 
same combination of the hereditary with the elective prin- 
ciple in the succession to the kingdom. Indeed, in this 

, , , . , . , p 

people the kingship presents several features of resemblance 
to j^e o ] L a ti n kingship as it appears to have existed at 
the dawn of history. For a Khasi king is the religious as 

wel1 as the secular head f the state ; along with the sooth- 
sayers he consults the auspices for the public good, and 
sometimes he has priestly duties to perform. Succession to 
the kingship always runs in the female line, for the Khasis 
have a regular system of mother-kin as opposed to father- 
kin ; hence it is not the king's sons, but his uterine brothers 
and the sons of his uterine sisters who succeed him on the 

1 Sir William MacGregor, " Lagos, 
Abeokuta, and the Alake," Journal of 
the African Society, No. 1 2 (July 1904), 
pp. 470 s$. 

1 C. Partridge, " The Burial of the 
Atta of Igaraland, and the ' Corona- 

tion ' of his Successor," Black-wood's 
Magazine, September 1904, pp. 329^. 
Mr. Partridge kindly gave me some 
details as to the election of the king in 
a letter dated 24th October 1904. He 
is Assistant District Commissioner in 
Southern Nigeria. 


throne in order of birth. But this hereditary principle is 
controlled by a body of electors, who have the right of 
rejecting unsuitable claimants to the throne. Generally the 
electors are a small body composed of the heads of certain 
priestly clans ; but in some Khasi states the number of 
the electors has been greatly increased by the inclusion of 
representative headmen of certain important lay clans, or 
even by the inclusion of village headmen or of the chief 
superintendents of the village markets. Nay, in the Langrim 
state all the adult males regularly vote at the election of a 
monarch ; and here the royal family is divided into two 
branches, a Black and a White, from either of which, appar- 
ently, the electors are free to choose a king. Similarly, in 
the Nobosohpoh state there are two royal houses, a Black 
and a White, and the people may select the heir to the 
throne from either of them. 1 

Thus the mere circumstance that all the Roman kings, Thus the 
with the exception of the two Tarquins, appear to have 

belonged to different families, is not of itself conclusive ma y have 
against the view that heredity was one of the elements t he here- 
which determined the succession. The number of families dltat 7 Wlth 

... -1111 the elective 

from whom the king might be elected may have been principle. 
large. And even if, as is possible, the electors were free 
to chose a king without any regard to his birth, the 
hereditary principle would still be maintained if, as we have 
seen reason to conjecture, it was essential that the chosen 
candidate should marry a woman of the royal house, who 
would generally be either the daughter or the widow of his 
predecessor. In this way the apparently disparate prin- 
ciples of unfettered election and strict heredity would be 
combined ; the marriage of the elected king with the 
hereditary princess would furnish the link between the two. 
Under such a system, to put it otherwise, the kings are 
elective and the queens hereditary. This is just the con- 
verse of what happens under a system of male kinship, where 
the kings are hereditary and the queens elective. 

In the later times of Rome it was held that the custom 
had been for the people to elect the kings and for the senate 

1 Major P. R. T. Gurdon, The Khasis (London, 1907), pp. 66-75. 


The king to ratify the election. 1 But we may suspect, with Mommsen, 
was prob- ^^ t ki s was no more than an inference from the mode of 

ably nomi- . 111 

nated electing the consuls. The magistrates who, under the 
either by re p U bU C) represented the kings most closely were the dictator 
decessor or and the King of the Sacred Rites, and neither of these was 
Interim elected by the people. Both were nominated, the dictator 
king. by the consul, and the King of the Sacred Rites by the 
chief pontiff. 2 Accordingly it seems probable that under 
the monarchy the king was nominated either by his pre- 
decessor or, failing that, by an interim king (interrex] chosen 
from the senate. 3 Now if, as we have been led to think, an 
essential claim to the throne was constituted by marriage 
with a princess of the royal house, nothing could be more 
natural than that the king should choose his successor, who 
would commonly be also his son-in-law. If he had several 
sons-in-law and had omitted to designate the one who 
was to reign after him, the election would be made by his 
substitute, the interim king. 

Personal The personal qualities which recommended a man 

qualities f or a rova i alliance and succession to the throne would 

which com- * 

mended a naturally vary according to the popular ideas of the time 

man/age anc * tne character of the king or his substitute, but it is 

with a reasonable to suppose that among them in early society 

andsucces- physical strength and beauty would hold a prominent place. 4 

sion to the \Ve have seen that in Ashantee the husbands or paramours 

of the princesses must always be men of fine presence, 

because they are to be the fathers of future kings. Among 

the Ethiopians in antiquity, as among the Ashantees and 

many other African tribes to this day, the crown passed in 

the female line to the son of the king's sister, but if there 

1 Livy, i. 17; Cicero, De re pub- king. Mommsen holds that he was 
lica, ii. 17. 31. always nominated by the latter. 

2 As to the nomination of the King 

of the Sacred Rites see Livy, xl. 42 ; Compare Lucretius, v. 1108 sqq. : 
Dionysius Halic. Ant. Rom. v. I. 4. " Condere coepeitirit urbis arcemque 

The latter writer says that the augurs locare 

co-operated with the pontiff in the Praesidium reges ipsisibi perfugium- 

nomination. que, 

3 Th. Mommsen, Romisches Stoats- Et pecus atque agros divisere atque 
recht, ii. 3 6-8 ; A. H. J. Greenidge, dedfre 

Roman Public Life, pp. 45 sqq. Mr. Pro facie atjusque et viribus ingtnio- 
Greenidge thinks that the king was que ; 

regularly nominated by his predecessor Nam fades inulluin valuit vircsque 
and only occasionally by an interim vigentes." 


was no such heir they chose the handsomest and most valiant 
man to reign over them. 1 We are told that the Gordioi Fat kings, 
elected the fattest man to the kingship, 2 nor is this incredible 
when we remember that in Africa corpulence is still regarded 
as a great distinction and beauty, and that both the chiefs 
and their wives are sometimes so fat that they can hardly 
walk. Thus among the Caffres chiefs and rich men attain 
to an enormous bulk, and the queens fatten themselves on 
beef and porridge, of which they partake freely in the 
intervals of slumber. To be fat is with them a mark of 
riches, and therefore of high rank ; common folk cannot 
afford to eat and drink and lounge as much as they would 
like to do. 3 The Syrakoi in antiquity are reported to have Long- 
bestowed the crown on the tallest man or on the man with k^ gs e and 
the longest head in the literal, not the figurative, sense of chiefs. 
the word. 4 They seem to have been a Sarmatian people 
to the north of the Caucasus, 5 and are probably the same 
with the long-headed people described by Hippocrates, 
who says that among them the men with the longest heads 
were esteemed the noblest, and that they applied bandages 
and other instruments to the heads of their children in 
infancy for the sake of moulding them into the shape which 
they admired. Such reports are probably by no means 
fabulous, for among the Monbuttu or Mang-bettou of Central 
Africa down to this day " when the children of chiefs are 
young, string is wound round their heads, which are 
gradually compressed into a shape that will allow of the 
longest head-dress. The skull thus treated in childhood 
takes the appearance of an elongated egg." 7 Similarly 

1 Nicolaus Damascenus, in Stobaeus, 4 Zenobius, Cent. v. 25. 

Florilegium, xliv. 41 {Frag. Histor. 8 Strabo, xi. 21, p. 492. 

Graec. ed. C. Miiller, iii. 463). Other 8 Hippocrates, De acre locis et aijnis 

writers say simply that the tallest, (vol. i. pp. 550 sq. ed. Kuhn). 
strongest, or handsomest man was 7 Captain Guy Burrows, The Land 

chosen king. See Herodotus, iii. 20; of the Pigmies (London, 1898), p. 

Aristotle, Politics, iv. 4 ; Athenaeus, 95. Speaking of this tribe, Emm 

xiii. 20, p. 5660. Pasha observes: "The most curious 

~ Zenobius, Cent. v. 25. custom, however, and one which is 

3 J. Shooter-, The Kafirs of Natal, particularly observed in the ruling 

pp. 4 sq. Compare D. Livingstone, families, is bandaging the heads of 

Missionary Travels and Researches in infants. By means of these bandages 

South Africa, p. 1 86 ; W. Max Miiller, a lengthening of the head along its 

Asien mid Eurofa (Leipsic, 1893), p. horizontal axis is produced ; and 

HO. whereas the ordinary Monbutto people 


Heads some of the Indian tribes on the north-west coast of 
moukSus America artificially mould the heads of their children 
a mark of into the shape of a wedge or a sugar-loaf by com- 
ink- pressing them between boards ; some of them regard such 
heads as a personal beauty, others as a mark of high birth. 1 
For instance, "the practice among some of the Salish 
seems to have had a definite social, as well as aesthetic, 
significance. There appear to have been recognised degrees 
of contortion marking the social status of the individual. 
For example slaves, of which the Salish kept considerable 
numbers, were prohibited from deforming the heads of their 
children at all, consequently a normal, undeformed head 
was the sign and badge of servitude. And in the case of 
the base-born of the tribes the heads of their children were 
customarily but slightly deformed, while the heads of the 
children born of wealthy or noble persons, and particularly 
those of chiefs, were severely and excessively deformed." 2 
Among the Among the Bororos of Brazil at the present day the 
chieftaincy is neither corpulence nor an egg-shaped 

singers are head, but the possession of a fine musical ear and a rich 

the chiefs. . .. T^I i /- 

baritone, bass, or tenor voice. The best singer, in fact, 
becomes the chief. There is no other way to supreme 
power but this. Hence in the education of the Bororo 
youth the main thing is to train, not their minds, but their 
voices, for the best of the tuneful quire will certainly be 

have rather round heads, the form of the Native Races of the Pacific States, i. 

head in the better classes shows an 180. 
extraordinary increase in length, which 

certainly very well suits their style of 2 C. Hill-Tout, The Far West, the 

hair and of hats." See Emin Pasha Homeofthe Salish andDeni (London, 

in Central Africa, being a Collection of 1907), p. 40. As to the custom in 

Letters and Journals (London, 1888), general among these tribes, see ibid. 

p. 212. pp. 38-41. In Melanesia the practice 

1 Lewis and Clark, Expedition to of artificially lengthening the head 

the Sources of the Missouri, ch. 23, into a cone by means of bandages 

vol. ii. 327 sq. (reprinted at London, applied in infancy is observed by the 

1905); D.W. Harmon.quotedby Rev.J. natives of Malikolo (Malekula) in the 

Morse, Report to tht Secretary of War New Hebrides and also by the natives 

of the United States on Indian Affairs of the south coast of New Britain, 

(Xewhaven, 1822), Appendix, p. 346; from Cape Roebuck to Cape Bedder. 

H. R. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, See Beatrice Grimshaw, From Fiji to 

ii. 325 sq. ; R. C. Mayne, Four Years the Cannibal Islands (London, 1907), 

in British Columbia, p. 277 ; G. M. pp. 258-260 ; R. Parkinson, Dreissig 

Sproat, Scenes and Studies of Savage Jahre in der Sudsee (Stuttgart, 1907), 

Life, pp. 28-30 ; H. H. Bancroft, pp. 204-206. 


chief. In this tribe, accordingly, there is no such thing as 
hereditary chieftainship ; for if the son of a chief has an 
indifferent ear or a poor voice, he will be a commoner to the 
end of his days. When two rival songsters are found in 
the same village, they sing against each other, and he who 
is judged to have acquitted himself best in the musical 
contest mounts the throne. His defeated rival sometimes 
retires in a huff with his admirers and founds a new village. 
Once seated in the place of power, the melodious singer is 
not only highly honoured and respected, but can exact 
unconditional obedience from all, and he gives his orders, 
like an operatic king or hero, in a musical recitative. 
It is especially at eventide, when the sun has set and the 
labours of the day are over, that he pours out his soul in 
harmony. At that witching hour he takes up his post in 
front of the men's club-house, and while his subjects are 
hushed in attention he bursts into sacred song, passing from 
that to lighter themes, and concluding the oratorio by 
chanting his commands to each individual for the next 
day. 1 When Addison ridiculed the new fashion of the 
Italian opera, in which generals sang the word of command, 
ladies delivered their messages in music, and lovers chanted 
their billet-doux, he little suspected that among the back- 
woods of Brazil a tribe of savages in all seriousness observed 
a custom which he thought absurd even on the stage. 2 

Sometimes apparently the right to the hand of the Succession 
princess and to the throne has been determined by a race. J ^ 
The Alitemnian Libyans awarded the kingdom to the fleetest determined 
runner. 3 Amongst the old Prussians, candidates for nobility by a race< 
raced on horseback to the king, and the one who reached 
him first was ennobled. 4 According to tradition the earliest 
games at Olympia were held by Endymion, who set his 
sons to run a race for the kingdom. His tomb was said 
to be at the point of the racecourse from which the 
runners started. 5 The famous story of Pelops and Hippo- 

1 V. Fric and P. Radin, "Contri- toric. Graecorum, ed. C. Miiller, iii. 

butions to the Study of the Bororo 463). 

Indians, "Journal of the Anthropological * SimonGmna.\i,PreussiscAe Chronik, 

Institute, xxxvi. (1906) pp. 388 sy. Tract, ii. cap. iii. 2, p. 66, ed. M. 

8 See The Spectator, Nos. 1 8 and 20. Perlbach. This passage was pointed 

3 Nicolaus Damascenus, in Stobaeus, out to me by Mr. H. M. Chadwick. 

Florilegium, xliv. 41 (Fragnienta His- 6 Pausanias, v. 1.4, vi. 20. 9. 


Greek tr.i- damia is perhaps only another version of the legend that 
ditions of fa ^ t races a t Olympia were run for no less a prize than 

princesses J r 

whose a kingdom. For Oenomaus was king of Pisa, a town close 
to Olympia ; and having been warned by an oracle that he 
would die by the hand of the man who married his daughter 
Hippodamia, he resolved to keep her a maid. So when any 
one came a-wooing her, the king made the suitor drive away 
in a chariot with Hippodamia, while he himself pursued the 
pair in another car drawn by fleet horses, and, overtaking the 
unlucky wight, slew him. In this way he killed twelve 
suitors and nailed their heads to his house, the ruins of 
which were shewn at Olympia down to the second century 
of our era. The bodies of the suitors were buried under a 
lofty mound, and it is said that in former days sacrifices were 
offered to them yearly. When Pelops came to win the hand 
of Hippodamia, he bribed the charioteer of Oenomaus not to 
put the pins into the wheels of the king's chariot. So 
Oenomaus was thrown from the car and dragged by his 
horses to death. But some say he was despatched by 
Pelops according to the oracle. Anyhow, he died, and 
Pelops married Hippodamia and succeeded to the kingdom. 1 
The grave of Oenomaus was shown at Olympia ; it was a 
mound of earth enclosed with stones. 2 Here, too, precincts 
were dedicated to Pelops and Hippodamia, in which sacrifices 
were offered to them annually ; the victim presented to 
Pelops was a black ram, whose blood was poured into a pit. 3 
Other traditions were current in antiquity of princesses who 
were offered in marriage to the fleetest runner and won by 
the victor in the race. Thus Icarius at Sparta set the wooers 
of his daughter Penelope to run a race ; Ulysses won and 
wedded her. His father-in-law is said to have tried to 
induce him to take up his abode in Sparta ; which seems to 
shew that if Ulysses had accepted the invitation he would 
have inherited the kingdom through his wife. 4 So, too, 
the Libyan King Antaeus placed his beautiful daughter 
Barce or Alceis at the end of the racecourse ; her many 

1 Apollodorus, Epitoma, ii. 4-9, ed. 20. 6 sq., vi. 21. 7-11. 
R. Wagner (Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 2 p a usanias, vi. 21. 3. 

ed. R. Wagner, pp. 183 $q.); Diodorus 

Siculus, iv. 73; Pausanias, v. I. 6sq., Pausanias, v. 13. 1-6, %-i. 20. 7. 

v. 10. 6 sq., v. 14. 7, v. 17. 7 sy., v. 4 Pausanias, iii. 12. I, 20. 10 j</. 


noble suitors, both Libyans and foreigners, ran to her as the 
goal, and Alcidamus, who touched her first, gained her in 
marriage. 1 Danaus, also, at Argos is said to have stationed 
his many daughters at the goal, and the runner who 
reached them first had first choice of the maidens. 2 
Somewhat different from these traditions is the story of 
Atalante, for in it the wooers are said to have contended, 
not with each other, but with the coy maiden herself in a 
foot-race. She slew her vanquished suitors and hung up 
their heads in the racecourse, till Hippomenes gained the 
race and her hand by throwing down the golden apples 
which she stooped to pick up. 3 

These traditions may very well reflect a real custom of Custom of 
racing for a bride, for such a custom appears to have pre- ^brife^ 
vailed among various peoples, though in practice it has among the 
degenerated into a mere form or pretence. Thus " there is ^ ghl 
one race, called the ' Love Chase,' which may be considered Caimucks. 
a part of the form of marriage among the Kirghiz. In this 
the bride, armed with a formidable whip, mounts a fleet 
horse, and is pursued by all the young men who make any 
pretensions to her hand. She will be given as a prize to 
the one who catches her, but she has the right, besides 
urging on her horse to the utmost, to use her whip, often 
with no mean force, to keep off those lovers who are un- 
welcome to her, and she will probably favour the one whom 
she has already chosen in her heart. As, however, by 
Kirghiz custom, a suitor to the hand of a maiden is obliged 
to give a certain kalym, or purchase-money, and an agree- 
ment must be made with the father for the amount of dowry 
which he gives his daughter, the ' Love Chase ' is a mere 
matter of form." 4 Similarly " the ceremony of marriage 
among the Caimucks is performed on horseback. A girl is 
first mounted, who rides off in full speed. Her lover 
pursues ; and if he overtakes her, she becomes his wife, and 

1 Tindar, Pyth. ix. 181-220, with 1876), i. 42 sq. This and the four 
the Scholia. following examples of the bride-race 

2 Pindar, Pyth. ix. 195 sqq. ; have been already cited by J. F. 
Pausanias iii. 12. 2. McLennan, Sttidies in Ancient History 

(London, 1886), pp. 15 sq., 181-184. 

3 Apollodorus, in 9. 2 ; Hyginus, He them to be rdics of a 

Fab. 185; Ovid, Metam. x. 560 sqq. custom of turing women from 

4 E. Schuyler, Turkistan ( London, - another community. 


Custom of the marriage is consummated on the spot, after which she 
racing for returns w jth him to his tent. But it sometimes happens 

a bride r * 

among the that the woman does not wish to marry the person by whom 
Caimucks ^ j g p ursuec j j n vvhich case she will not suffer him to 

and some f 

tribes of overtake her ; and we were assured that no instance occurs 
f a Calmuck girl being thus caught unless she has a 
partiality for her pursuer. If she dislikes him she rides, to 
use the language of English sportsmen, ' neck or nothing,' 
until she has completely escaped, or until the pursuer's 
horse is tired out, leaving her at liberty to return, to be 
afterwards chased by some more favoured admirer." 1 The 
race for the bride is found also among the Koryaks of 
north-eastern Asia. It takes place in a large tent, round 
which many separate compartments called pologs are arranged 
in a continuous circle. The girl gets a start and is clear of 
the marriage if she can run through all the compartments 
without being caught by the bridegroom. The women of 
the encampment place every obstacle in the man's way, 
tripping him up, belabouring him with switches, and so forth, 
so that he has little chance of succeeding unless the girl 
wishes it and waits for him. 2 Among some of the rude 
indigenous tribes of the Malay Peninsula " marriage is 
preceded by a singular ceremony. An old man presents 
the future couple to the assembled guests, and, followed by 
their families, he leads them to a great circle, round which 
the girl sets off to run as fast as she can. If the young 
man succeeds in overtaking her, she becomes his mate ; 
otherwise he loses all rights, which happens especially when 
he is not so fortunate as to please his bride." 3 Another 
writer tells us that among these savages, when there is a 

1 E. D. Clarke, Travels in Various North Pacific Expedition, vol. vi.). 
Countries, i. (London, 1810), p. 333. 3 Letter of the missionary Bigandet, 
In the fourth octavo edition of Clarke's dated March 1847, in Annales de la 
Travels (vol. i., London, 1816), from Propagation de la Foi, xx. (1848) p. 
which McLennan seems to have quoted, 431. A similar account of the 
there are a few verbal changes. ceremony is given by M. Bourien, 

2 J. McLennan, op. cit. pp. 183 "Wild Tribes of the Malay Peninsula," 
sq., referring to Kennan's Tent Life Transactions of the Ethnological Society 
in Siberia (1870), which I have not of London, N.S. iii. (1865) p. 81. 
seen. Compare W. Jochelson, " The See further W. W. Skeat and C. O. 
Koryak " (Leyden and New York, Blagden, Pagan Races of the Malay 
1908), p. 742 (Memoir of the American Peninsula (London, 1906), ii. 68, 77 
Museum of Natural History, Thejesup sq., 79 sq., 82 sq. 




river at hand, the race takes place on the water, the bride 
paddling away in one canoe and pursued by the bridegroom 
in another. 1 Before the wedding procession starts for the 
bridegroom's hut, a Caffre bride is allowed to make one 
last bid for freedom, and a young man is told off to catch 
her. Should he fail to do so, she is theoretically allowed 
to return to her father, and the whole performance has to 
be repeated ; but the flight of the bride is usually a 
pretence. 2 

Similar customs appear to have been practised by all the 
Teutonic peoples ; for the German, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse 
languages possess in common a word for marriage which 
means simply bride-race. 3 Moreover, traces of the custom 
survived into modern times. Thus in the Mark of Branden- 
burg, down to the first half of the nineteenth century at 
least, it was the practice for bride and bridegroom to run a 
race on their wedding day in presence of all the guests. 
Two sturdy men took the bride between them and set off. 
The bridegroom gave them a start and then followed hot- 
foot. At the end of the course stood two or three young 
married women, who took from the bride her maiden's 
crown and replaced it by the matron's cap. If the bride- 
groom failed to overtake his bride, he was much ridiculed. 4 
In other parts of Germany races are still held at marriage, 
but the competitors are no longer the bride and bridegroom. 
Thus in Hesse at the wedding of a well-to-do farmer his 
friends race on horseback to the house of the bride, and her 
friends similarly race on horseback to the house of the 
bridegroom. The prize hangs over the gate of the farmyard 
or the door of the house. It consists of a silken or woollen 

the procession from the house of the 
bride to the house of the bridegroom. 
But Grimm is most probably right in 
holding that originally it applied to a 
real race for the bride. This is the 
view also of K. Simrock (Deutsche 
Mythologies' pp. 598 sq.). Another 
writer sees in it a trace of marriage by 
capture (L. Dargun, Mutterrccht und 
Raubehe (Breslau, 1883), p. 130). 
Compare K. Schmidt, Jus pri:ae 
noctis (Freiburg i. B. 1881), p. 129. 

4 A. Kuhn, Mcirkische Sagen und 
Mdrchen (Berlin, 1843), P- 35^- 

Caffre race 
for bride. 

The bride- 
race among 
and its 
traces in 

1 J. Cameron, Our Tropical Posses- 
sions in Malayan India (London, 
1865), pp. 116 sq. 

2 Dudley Kidd, The Essential Kafir 
(London, 1904), p. 219. 

3 Middle High German brutlouf, 
modern German Brautlauf, Anglo- 
Saxon brydhUap; old Norse brudhlaup, 
modern Norse bryllup. See Grimm, 
Deutsches Worterbuch, s.v. " Braut- 
lauf " ; K. Weinhold, Deutsche 
Frauen, 2 i. 407. The latter writer 
supposes the word to refer merely to 


Traces of a handkerchief, which the winner winds round his head or 
custom of f as (- ens to his breast. The victors have also the right to 

racing for . j 

n bride in escort the marriage procession. In Upper Bavaria, down 
at least to some fifty years ago, a regular feature of 
a rustic v/edding used to be what was called the " bride- 
race " or the " key-race." It generally took place when the 
bridal party was proceeding from the church to the alehouse. 
A course was marked out and two goals, consisting of heaps 
of straw, were set* up at distances of three and four hundred 
yards respectively. The strongest and fleetest of the young 
fellows raced barefoot, clad only in shirt and trousers. He 
who first reached the further goal received the first prize ; 
this was regularly a key of gilt wood, which the winner 
fastened to his hat. Often, as in some of the Greek legends, 
the bride herself was the goal of the race. The writers who 
record the custom suggest that the race was originally for 
the key of the bridechamber, and that the bridegroom ran 
with the rest. 2 In Scotland also the guests at a rustic 
wedding used to ride on horseback for a prize, which some- 
times consisted of the bride's cake set up on a pole in front 
of the bridegroom's house. The race was known as the 
broose? At Weitensfeld, in Carinthia, a festival called the 
Bride-race is still held every year. It is popularly supposed 
to commemorate a time when a plague had swept away the 
whole people except a girl and three young men. These 
three, it is said, raced with each other in order that the 
winner might get the maiden to wife, and so repeople the 
land. The race is now held on horseback. The winner 
receives as the prize a garland of flowers called the Bride- 
wreath, and the man who comes in last gets a wreath of 
ribbons and pig's bristles. 4 It seems not impossible that this 
custom is a relic of a fair at which the marriageable maidens 
of the year were assigned in order of merit to the young 
men who distinguished themselves by their feats of strength 

1 \V. Kolbe, Hessische Volks-sitten 153-155 (Bohn's edition) ; J. Jamieson, 
und Gebriiuche (Marburg, 1888), pp. Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 
15 S 1- s.v. " Broose." 

2 Lentner and Dahn, in Bavaria, - * E. Herrmann, " liber Lieder 
Landes-undVolkskundedesKonigreichs und Briiuche bei Hochzeiten in 
Bayern, i. (Munich, 1860) pp. 398 sq. Karnten," Archiv fur Anthropologie, 

3 J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. xix. (1891) p. 169. 


and agility. A practice of this sort appears to have pre- Assign- 
vailed among the ancient Samnites. Every year the youths ^ s t f 
and maidens were tested publicly, and the young man who picked 
was adjudged best had first choice of the girls ; the second amTn^Th 
best had the next choice, and so on with the rest. 1 " They Samnites. 
say," writes Strabo, "that the Samnites have a beautiful 
custom which incites to virtue. For they may not give 
their daughters in marriage to whom they please, but every 
year the ten best maidens and the ten best youths are 
picked out, and the best of the ten maidens is given to the 
best of the ten youths, and the second to the second, and so 
on. But if the man who wins one of these prizes should 
afterwards turn out a knave, they disgrace him and take the 
girl from him." 2 The nature of the test to which the young 
men and women were subjected is not mentioned, but we 
may conjecture that it was mainly athletic. 

The contests for a bride may be designed to try the Contests 
skill, strength, and courage of the suitors as well as their 
horsemanship and speed of foot. Speaking of King's races. 
County, Ireland, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, 
Arthur Young says : " There is a very ancient custom here, 
for a number of country neighbours among the poor people, 
to fix upon some young woman that ought, as they think, 
to be married ; they also agree upon a young fellow as a 
proper husband for her ; this determined, they send to the 
fair one's cabin to inform her that on the Sunday following 
' she is to be horsed,' that is, carried on men's backs. She 
must then provide whisky and cyder for a treat, as all will 
pay her a visit after mass for a hurling match. As soon as 
she is horsed, the hurling begins, in which the young fellow 
appointed for her husband has the eyes of all the company 
fixed on him : if he comes off conqueror, he is certainly 
married to the girl ; but if another is victorious, he as cer- 
tainly loses her, for she is the prize of the victor. These 
trials are not always finished in one Sunday, they take some- 
times two or three, and the common expression when they 
are over is, that ' such a girl was goal'd.' Sometimes one 

1 Nicolaus Damascenus, quoted by ed. C. Miiller, iii. 457. 
Stobaeus, Florilegium, xliv. 41 ; 

Fragment a Historicorum Graeconu/i, - Strabo, v. 4. 12, p. 250. 



Contests barony hurls against another, but a marriageable girl is 
for a bride. a i ways the prize. Hurling is a sort of cricket, but instead 
of throwing the ball in order to knock down a wicket, the 
aim is to pass it through a bent stick, the ends stuck in the 
ground." l In the great Indian epic the Makabharata it is 
related that the hand of the lovely Princess Draupadi or 
Krishna, daughter of the King of the Panchalas, was only 
to be won by him who could bend a certain mighty bow 
and shoot five arrows through a revolving wheel so as to hit 
the target beyond. After many noble wooers had essayed 
the task in vain, the disguised Arjun was successful, and 
carried off the princess to be the wife of himself and his four 
The Indian brothers. 2 This was an instance of the ancient Indian 
practice of Svayamvara, in accordance with which a maiden 
of high rank either chose her husband from among her 
assembled suitors or was offered as the prize to the conqueror 
in a trial of skill. The custom was occasionally observed 
among the Rajputs down to a late time. 3 The Tartar king 
Caidu, the cousin and opponent of Cublay Khan, is said to 
have had a beautiful daughter named Aijaruc, or " the 
Bright Moon," who was so tall and brawny that she outdid 
. all men in her father's realm in feats of strength. She 
vowed she would never marry till she found a man who 
could vanquish her in wrestling. Many noble suitors came 
and tried a fall with her, but she threw them all ; and 
from every one whom she had overcome she exacted a 
hundred horses. In this way she collected an immense 
stud. 4 In the Nibelungenlied the fair Brunhild, Queen of 
Iceland, was only to be won in marriage by him who could 
beat her in three trials of strength, and the unsuccessful 
wooers forfeited their heads. Many had thus perished, but 
at last Gunther, King of the Burgundians, vanquished and 

1 Arthur Young, "Tour in Ireland," charita, edited by G. Biihler (Bombay, 
in Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, iii. 1875), pp. 38-40; A. Holtzmann, 
860. Das Mahdbharata und seine Theile, i. 

2 Mahabharata, condensed into (Kiel, 1895), pp. 21 sq. ; J. Jolly, 
English by Romesch Dutt (London, Recht und Sitte, pp. 50 sq. (in G. 
1898), pp. 15 sqq. ; J. C. Oman, The Biihler's Grundriss der indo-arischen 
Great Itidian Epics, pp. 109 sqq. Philologie). 

3 J. D. Mayne, A Treatise on Hindu 4 The Book of Ser Marco Polo. Yule's 
Law and Usage* (Madras and London, translation, 2 bk. iv. ch. 4, vol. ii. pp. 
1883), p. 56; The Vikramdnkadeva- 461-463. 


married her. 1 It is said that Sithon, King of the Odomanti Contests 
in Thrace, had a lovely daughter, Pallene, and that many for a bnd< 
men came a-wooing her not only from Thrace but from 
Iliyria and the country of the Don. But her father said that 
he who would wed his daughter must first fight himself and 
pay with his life the penalty of defeat. Thus he slew many 
young men. But when he was grown old and his strength 
had failed, he set two of the wooers, by name Dryas and 
Clitus, to fight each other for the kingdom and the hand of 
the princess. The combat was to take place in chariots, but 
the princess, being in love with Clitus, bribed his rival's 
charioteer to put no pins in the wheels of his chariot ; so 
Dryas came to the ground, and Clitus slew him and married 
the king's daughter. 2 The tale agrees closely with that of 
Pelops and Hippodamia. Both stories probably contain, in 
a legendary form, reminiscences of a real custom. Within Hippo- 
historical times Clisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon, made public s^ n at 
proclamation at the Olympian games that he would give his and how 
daughter Agariste in marriage to that suitor who, during a awa y ^l* 1 
year's trial, should approve himself the best. So many marriage, 
young men who prided themselves on their persons and on 
their lineage assembled at Sicyon from all parts of the 
Greek world. The tyrant had a racecourse and a wrestling 
school made on purpose for them, and there he put them 
through their paces. Of all the suitors none pleased him so 
much as Hippoclides, the handsomest and richest man of 
Athens, a scion of the old princely house of Cypselus. And 
when the year was up and the day had come on which the 
award was to be made, the tyrant sacrificed a hundred oxen 
and entertained the suitors and all the people of Sicyon at a 
splendid banquet. Dinner being over, the wine went round 
and the suitors fell to wrangling as to their accomplishments 
and their wit. In this feast of reason the gay Hippoclides 
outshone himself and them all until, flushed with triumph 
and liquor, he jumped on a table, danced to music, and then, 
as a finishing touch, stood on his head and sawed the air with 

1 The Lay of the Nibelungs, trans- by Mr. A. B. Cook, who has himself 
lated by Alice Horton (London, 1898), discussed the contest for the kingship. 
Adventures vi. and vii. See his article, ' ' The European Sky- 

2 Parthenius, Narfat. Amat. vi. god," Folk-lore, xv. (1904) pp. 376 
This passage was pointed out to me sqq. 


his legs. This was too much. The tyrant in disgust told 
him he had danced away his marriage. 1 

The annual Thus it appears that the right to marry a girl, and 
ght of the especially a princess, has often been conferred as a prize in 
at an athletic contest. There would be no reason, therefore, for 
sur P r i se ^ the Roman kings, before bestowing their daughters 
a relic of in marriage, should have resorted to this ancient mode of 
or the tCSt testing the personal qualities of their future sons-in-law and 
kingdom successors. If my theory is correct, the Roman king and 
hand of the queen personated Jupiter and his divine consort, and in the 
princess, character of these divinities went through the annual cere- 
mony of a sacred marriage for the purpose of causing the 
crops to grow and men and cattle to be fruitful and multiply. 
Thus they did what in more northern lands we may suppose 
the King and Queen of May were believed to do in days of 
old. Now we have seen that the right to play the part of 
the King of May and to wed the Queen of May has some- 
times been determined by an athletic contest, particularly 
by a race. 2 This may have been a relic of an old marriage 
custom of the sort we have examined, a custom designed to 
test the fitness of a candidate for matrimony. Such a test 
might reasonably be applied with peculiar rigour to the 
king in order to ensure that no personal defect should 
incapacitate him for the performance of those sacred rites 
and ceremonies on which, even more than on the despatch 
of his civil and military duties, the safety and prosperity of 
the community were believed to depend. And it would be 
natural to require of him that from time to time he should 
submit himself afresh to the same ordeal for the sake of 
publicly demonstrating that he was still equal to the dis- 
charge of his high calling. A relic of that test perhaps 
survived in the ceremony known as the Flight of the King 
(regifugium\ which continued to be annually observed at Rome 
down to imperial times. On the twenty -fourth day of 

1 Herodotus, vi. 126-130. It is to customs were observed at Whitsuntide, 

be observed that in this and other of not on May Day. But the Whitsuntide 

the examples cited above the succession king and queen are obviously equiva- 

to the kingdom did not pass with the lent to the King and Queen of May. 

hand of the princess. Hence I allow myself to use the latter 

and more familiar titles so as to include 

9 See above, pp. 69, 84, 90 sq. These the former. 


February a sacrifice used to be offered in the Comitium, and 
when it was over the King of the Sacred Rites fled from the 
Forum. 1 We may conjecture that the Flight of the King was 
originally a race for an annual kingship, which may have been 
awarded as a prize to the fleetest runner. At the end of the 
year the king might run again for a second term of office ; 
and so on, until he was defeated and deposed or perhaps 
slain. In this way what had once been a race would tend 
to assume the character of a flight and a pursuit. The king 
would be given a start ; he ran and his competitors ran after 
him, and if he were overtaken he had to yield the crown and 
perhaps his life to the lightest of foot among them. In time 
a man of masterful character might succeed in seating him- 
self permanently on the throne and reducing the annual race 
or flight to the empty form which it seems always to have been 
within historical times. 2 The rite was sometimes interpreted 
as a commemoration of the expulsion of the kings from Rome ; 
but this appears to have been a mere afterthought devised 
to explain a ceremony of which the old meaning was for- 
gotten. It is far more likely that in acting thus the King of 
the Sacred Rites was merely keeping up an ancient custom 
which in the regal period had been annually observed by 

1 Ovid, Fasti, ii. 685 sqq. ; Plutarch, the man whose duty it was to slit open 
Quaest. Rom. 63 ; J. Marquardt, Ro- a corpse for the purpose of embalming 
nrische Staats-verwaltung, iii. 2 323 sq. ; it fled as soon as he had done his part, 
W. Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals of pursued by all the persons present, who 
the Period of the Republic, pp. 327 pelted him with stones and cursed him, 
sqq. "turning as it were the pollution on 

2 Another proposed explanation of him ; for they suppose that any one 
the regifugium is that the king fled who violates or wounds or does any 
because at the sacrifice he had incurred harm to the person of a fellow-tribes- 
the guilt of slaying a sacred animal. man is hateful " (Diodorus Siculus, i. 
See W. Warde Fowler, Roman Festi- 91. 4). Similarly in the western 
vals of the Period of the Republic, islands of Torres Straits the man whose 
pp. 328 sqq. The best-known ex- duty it was to decapitate a corpse for 
ample of such a ritual flight is that the purpose of preserving the skull was 
of the men who slew the ox at the shot at with arrows by the relatives of 
Athenian festival of the Bouphonia. the deceased as an expiation for the 
See The Golden Bough, Second Edi- injury he had done to the corpse of their 
tion, ii. 294. Amongst the Pawnees kinsman. See Reports of the Cam- 
the four men who assisted at the sacri- bridge Anthropological Expedition to 
fice of a girl to Ti-ra'-wa used to run Torres Straits, v. (Cambridge, 1904) 
away very fast after the deed was done pp. 249, 251. This explanation of the 
and wash themselves in the river. See regifugium certainly deserves to be 
G. B. Grinnell, Pawnee Hero Stories considered. But on this as on so many 
and Folk-Tales (New York, 1889), pp. other points of ancient ritual we can 
365 sq. Among the ancient Egyptians hardly hope ever to attain to certainty. 

The theory 
is con- 
firmed by 
the evi- 
dence that 
at the 
a man 
used to 
the god 
Saturn and 
to be put 
to death 
in that 

his predecessors the kings. What the original intention of 
the rite may have been must probably always remain more 
or less a matter of conjecture. The present explanation is 
suggested with a full sense of the difficulty and obscurity in 
which the subject is involved. 

Thus, if my theory is correct, the yearly flight of the 
Roman king was a relic of a time when the kingship was 
an annual office awarded, along with the hand of a princess, to 
the victorious athlete or gladiator, who thereafter figured along 
with his bride as a god and goddess at a sacred marriage 
designed to ensure the fertility of the earth by homoeopathic 
magic. Now this theory is to a certain extent remarkably 
confirmed by an ancient account of the Saturnalia which was 
discovered and published some years ago by a learned Belgian 
scholar, Professor Franz Cumont of Ghent. From that 
account we learn that down to the beginning of the fourth 
century of our era, that is, down nearly to the establishment 
of Christianity by Constantine, the Roman soldiers stationed 
on the Danube were wont to celebrate the Saturnalia in a 
barbarous fashion which must certainly have dated from a 
very remote antiquity. Thirty days before the festival they 
chose by lot from among themselves a young and handsome 
man, who was dressed in royal robes to resemble the god Saturn. 
In that character he was allowed to indulge all his passions 
to the fullest extent ; but when his brief reign of thirty days 
was over, and the festival of Saturn was come, he had to cut 
his own throat on the altar of the god he personated. 1 
We can hardly doubt that this tragic figure, whom a fatal 
lot doomed to masquerade for a short time as a deity and to 

1 F. Cumont, " Les Actes de S. 
Dasius," Analecta Bollandiana, xvi. 
(1897) pp. 5-16. See further Messrs. 
Parmentier and Cumont, " Le Roi des 
Satumales," Revue de Philologie, xxi. 
(1897) pp. 143-153;; The Golden 
Bough, Second Edition, iii. 138 sqq. 
The tomb of St. Dasius, a Christian 
soldier who was put to death at Duros- 
torum in 303 A.D. after refusing to play 
the part of Saturn at the festival, has 
since been discovered at Ancona. A 
Greek inscription on the tomb records 
that the martyr's remains were brought 
thither from Durostorum. See F. 

Cumont, ' ' Le Tombeau de S. Dasius 
de Durostorum, "Analecta Bollandiana, 
xxvii. (1908) pp. 369-372. Professor 
A. Erhard of Strasburg, who has been 
engaged for years in preparing an 
edition of the Acta Martyrum for the 
Berlin Corpus of Greek Fathers, in- 
formed me in conversation at Cam- 
bridge in the summer of 1910 that he 
ranks the Acts of St. Dasius among 
the authentic documents of their 
class. The plain unvarnished narrative 
bears indeed the stamp of truth on its 


die as such a violent death, was the true original of the merry 
monarch or King of the Saturnalia, as he was called, whom a 
happier lot invested with the playful dignity of Master of the 
Winter Revels. 1 In all probability the grim predecessor of 
the frolicsome King of the Saturnalia belonged to that class 
of puppets who in some countries have been suffered to reign 
nominally for a few days each year merely for the sake of 
discharging a burdensome or fatal obligation which otherwise 
must have fallen on the real king. 2 If that is so, we may 
infer that the part of the god Saturn, who was commonly 
spoken of as a king, 3 was formerly played at the Saturnalia 
by the Roman king himself. And a trace of the Sacred 
Marriage may perhaps be detected in the licence accorded to 
the human representatives of Saturn, a licence which, if I am 
right, is strictly analogous to the old orgies of May Day and 
other similar festivals. It is to be observed that Saturn was Saturn 
the god of the seed, and the Saturnalia the festival of sowing ^ e s jj, d 
held in December, 4 when the autumn sowing was over and the and the 
husbandman gave himself up to a season of jollity after the ^"tivtr 
long labours of summer and autumn. 5 On the principles of of sowing. 

1 Tacitus, Annals, xiii. 15 ; Arrian, Dezobry, Rome au siecle d'Auguste, 
Epicteti dissert, i. 25. 8; Lucian, iii. 143 sqq.; W.Warde Fowler, Roman 
Sattirnalia, 4. Festivals of the Period of the Republic, 

2 As to these tempo rary kings see The pp. 268^^. The festival was held from 
Golden Bough, Second Edition,ii. 2$sqq. the seventeenth to the twenty-third of 

3 Varro, Rerum rusticarum, iii. I. December. I formerly argued that in 
5 ; Virgil, Aen. viii. 324 ; Tibullus, the old days, when the Roman year 
i. 3. 35 ; Augustine, De civitate Dei, began with March instead of with 
vii. 19. Compare Wissowa, in W. H. January, the Saturnalia may have been 
Roscher's Lexikon der griech. und rbm. held from the seventeenth to the twenty - 
Mythologie, iv. 433 sq. third of February, in which case the 

4 On Saturn as the god of sowing festival must have immediately preceded 
and the derivation of his name from a the Flight of the King, which fell on 
root meaning " to sow," from which February the twenty-fourth. See The 
comes satus " sowing," see Varro, De Golden Bough, Second Edition, iii. 144 
lingua Latina, v. 64; Festus, s.v. sqq.; lectures on the Early History of 
" Opima spolia," p. 186, ed. C. O. the Kingship, p. 266. But this 
Mtiller ; Augustine, De civitate Dei, attempt to bring the ancient Saturnalia 
vii. 2, 3, 13, 15 ; Wissowa, in W. H. into immediate juxtaposition to the 
Roscher's Lexikon der griech. undrom. King's Flight breaks down when we 
Mythologie, iv. 428. The derivation observe, as my friend Mr. W. Warde 
is confirmed by the form Saetumus Fowler has pointed out to me, that the 
which occurs in an inscription (Saeturni Saturnalia fell in December under the 
pocolom, H. Dessau, Inscript. Latinae Republic, long before Caesar, in his 
selectae, No. 2966). As to the Satur- reform of the calendar, had shifted the 
nalia see L. Preller, Romische Mytho- commencement of the year from March 
logie? ii. 15 sqq.; J. Marquardt, R'dmi- to January. See Livy, xxii. I. 19 sq. 
sche Staatsverwaltung? pp. 586 sqq. ; 6 Roman farmers sowed wheat, spelt, 


homoeopathic magic nothing could be more natural than that, 
when the last seeds had been committed to the earth, the 
marriage of the powers of vegetation should be simulated by 
their human representatives for the purpose of sympathetically 
quickening the seed. In short, no time could be more suit- 
able for the celebration of the Sacred Marriage. We have 
seen as a matter of fact that the sowing of the seed has often 
been accompanied by sexual orgies with the express intention 
of thereby promoting the growth of the crops. At all events 
the view that the King's Flight at Rome was a mitigation of 
an old custom of putting him to death at the end of a year's 
tenure of office, is confirmed by the practice of annually 
slaying a human representative of the divine king Saturn, 
which survived in some parts of the Roman empire, though 
not at Rome itself, down to Christian times. 
if the Latin This theory would throw light on some dark passages in 
e legends of the Roman kingship, such as the obscure and 

the licen- humble births of certain kings and their mysterious ends. 
tival of the ^ or ^ the sacred marriage took place at a licentious festival 
Saturnalia, like the Saturnalia, when slaves were temporarily granted 

we could , ... ... , . . ,, , , ' 

understand the privileges of freemen, it might well be that the paternity 
why their o f the children begotten at this time, including those of the 


was some- royal family, was a matter of uncertainty ; nay, it might be 
known that the king or queen had offspring by a slave. 

uncertain, , ay 

and why Such offspring of a royal father and a slave mother, or of a 

thermight rO y a i mo ther and a slave father, would rank as princes and 

servile princesses according as male or female kinship prevailed. 

Under a system of male kinship the union of the king with 

a slave woman would give birth to a Servius Tullius, and, 

according to one tradition, to a Romulus. If female kinship 

prevailed in the royal family, as we have seen reason to sup- 

pose, it is possible that the stories of the birth of Romulus and 

and barley in December, flax up to the (Palermo, 1889) pp. 132 sqq. Hence 

seventh of that month, and beans up to we may suppose that in the Roman 

the eleventh (the festival of Septimon- Campagna of old the last sowing of 

tium). See Palladius, De re rustica, autumn was over before the middle of 

xiii. i. In the lowlands of Sicily at the December, when the Saturnalia began. 
present day November and December l This temporary liberty accorded to 

are the months of sowing, but in the slaves was one of the most remarkable 

highlands August and September. See features of the Saturnalia and kindred 

G. Pitre, Usi e costumi, crcdenze e festivals in antiquity. See The Golden 

prcgiudizi del popolo siciliano, iii. Bough, Second Edition, iii. 139 sqq. 


Servius from slave mothers is a later inversion of the facts, 
and that what really happened was that some of the old 
Latin kings were begotten by slave fathers on royal princesses 
at the festival of the Saturnalia. The disappearance of 
female kinship would suffice to account for the warping of the 
tradition. All that was distinctly remembered would be that 
some of the kings had had a slave for one of their parents ; 
and people living under a system of paternal descent would 
naturally conclude that the slave parent of a king could only 
be the mother, since according to their ideas no son of a 
slave father could be of royal blood and sit on the throne. 1 

Again, if I am right in supposing that in very early The violent 
times the old Latin kings personated a god and were ^ o d ^ of the 
regularly put to death in that character, we can better kings. 
understand the mysterious or violent ends to which so many 
of them are said to have come. Too much stress should 
not, however, be laid on such legends, for in a turbulent state 
of society kings, like commoners, are apt to be knocked 
on the head for much sounder reasons than a claim to 
divinity. Still, it is worth while to note that Romulus is said Death of 
to have vanished mysteriously like Aeneas, or to have Ro ulus 

J on the 

been cut to pieces by the patricians whom he had offended, seventh of 
and that the seventh of July, the day on which he perished, ^^ he 
was a festival which bore some resemblance to the Saturnalia. Capro- 
For on that day the female slaves were allowed to take 

certain remarkable liberties. They dressed up as free women resembling 
in the attire of matrons and maids, and in this guise they a ' 
went forth from the city, scoffed and jeered at all whom 
they met, and engaged among themselves in a fight, striking 
and throwing stones at each other. Moreover, they feasted 
under a wild fig-tree, made use of a rod cut from the tree 
for a certain purpose, perhaps to beat each other with, and 
offered the milky juice of the tree in sacrifice to Juno 
Caprotina, whose name appears to mean either the goddess 
of the goat (caper} or the goddess of the wild fig-tree, for 

1 The learned Swiss scholar, J. J. (Heidelberg, 1870), pp. 133 sqq. To 

Bachofen long ago drew out in minute be frank, I have not had the patience 

detail the parallel between these birth to read through his long dissertation. 
legends of the Roman kings and 2 Livy, i. 16; Dionysius Halic. Ant. 

licentious festivals like the Roman Rom. ii. 56 ; Plutarch, Romulus, 27 ; 

Saturnalia and the Babylonian Sacaea. Florus, i. I. 1 6 sq. See above, pp. 

See his book Die Sage von Tanaquil 181 sq. 




the Romans called a wild fig-tree a goat- fig (caprificus\ 

The Hence the day was called the Nonae Caprotinae after the 

animal or the tree. The festival was not peculiar to Rome, 

tinae but was held by women throughout Latium. It can hardly 

havTbeen ^e dissociated from a custom which was observed by ancient 

the festival husbandmen at- this season. They sought to fertilise the 

fertilisation fig-trees or ripen the figs by hanging strings of fruit from a 

of the fig. w jid fig-tree among the boughs. The practice appears to 

be very old. It has been employed in Greece both in 

ancient and modern times, and Roman writers often refer 

to it. Palladius recommends the solstice in June, that is 

Midsummer Day, as the best time for the operation ; 

Columella prefers July. 2 In Sicily at the present day the 

operation is performed either on Midsummer Day (the 

festival of St. John the Baptist) or in the early days of July; 3 

in Morocco and North Africa generally it takes place 

on Midsummer Day. 4 The wild fig-tree is a male and 

1 Varro, De lingua Latina, vi. 1 8 ; 
Plutarch, Romulus, 29 ; id., Camillus, 
33; Macrobius, Saturn, i. II. 36-40. 
The analogy of this festival to the 
Babylonian Sacaea was long ago 
pointed out by J. J. Bachofen. See his 
book Die Sage von Tanaquil (Heidel- 
berg, 1870), pp. 172 sqq. 

2 Aristotle, Hist. anim. v. 32, p. 
5573, ed. Bekker ; Theophrastus, Hist, 
plant, ii. 8 ; id., De causis plantarum, 
ii. 9 ; Plutarch, Quaest. conviv. vii. 2. 
2; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xv. 79-81, xvi. 
114, xvii. 256; Palladius, iv. 10. 28, 
vii. 5. 2 ; Columella, xi. 2. 56 ; Geo- 
ponica, iii. 6, x. 48. As to the practice 
in modern Greece and the fig-growing 
districts of Asia Minor, see P. de Tour- 
nefort, Relation cfutt voyage du Levant 
(Amsterdam, 1718), i. 130; W. R. 
Paton, " The Pharmakoi and the Story 
of the Fall," Revue archtologique, 
IVeme Serie, ix. (1907) p. 51. For an 
elaborate examination of the process 
and its relation to the domestication 
and spread of the fig- tree, see Graf 
zu Solms-Laubach, "Die Herkunft, 
Domestication und Verbreitung des 
gewohnlichen Feigenbaums (Ficus 
Carica, L.)," Abhandlungen der Konig- 
lichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften 
tit Gottingcn, xxviii. (1882) pp. 1-106. 

This last writer thinks that the opera- 
tion was not practised by Italian 
husbandmen, because it is not mentioned 
by Cato and Varro. But their silence 
can hardly outweigh the express mention 
and recommendation of it by Palla- 
dius and Columella. Theophrastus, 
it is true, says that the process was 
not in use in Italy (Hist. Plant arum, 
ii. 8. i), but he can scarcely have had 
exact information on this subject. 
Caprificatio, as this artificial fertilisa- 
tion of fig - trees is called, is still 
employed by the Neapolitan peasantry, 
though it seems to be unknown in 
northern Italy. Pliny's account has no 
independent value, as he merely copies 
from Theophrastus. The name " goat- 
fig" (caprificus) applied to the wild 
fig-tree may be derived from the notion 
that the tree is a male who mounts the 
female as the he-goat mounts the she- 
goat. Similarly the Messenians called 
the tree simply "he-goat" (rpdyos). 
See Pausanias, iv. 20. 1-3. 

3 G. Pitre, Usi e costumi, credenze 
e pregiudizi del popolo siciliano, iii. 


4 Budgett Meakin, The Moors (Lon- 
don, 1902), p. 258 ; E. Doutte", Magie 
et religion dans FAfriqiu du Nord 
(Algiers, 1908), p. 568. 




the cultivated fig-tree is a female, and the fertilisation 
is effected by insects, which are engendered in the fruit 
of the male tree and convey the pollen to the blossom 
of the female. 1 Thus the placing of wild figs, laden with 
pollen and insects, among the boughs of the cultivated fig- 
tree is, like the artificial fertilisation of the date-palm, 2 a real 
marriage of the trees, and it may well have been regarded 
as such by the peasants of antiquity long before the true 
theory of the process was discovered. Now the fig is an import- 
important article of diet in countries bordering on the ^e fi^a 
Mediterranean. In Palestine, for example, the fruit is not, an article 
as with us, merely an agreeable luxury, but is eaten daily 
and forms indeed one of the staple productions of the 
country. " To sit every man under his vine, and under his 
fig tree " was the regular Jewish expression for the peaceable 
possession of the Holy Land ; and in the fable of Jotham 
the fig-tree is invited by the other trees, next after the olive, 
to come and reign over them. 3 When Sandanis the Lydian 

1 A. Engler, in V. Hehn's Kultur- 
pflanzen und HaustJiiere 1 (Berlin, 
1902), p. 99. Compare Graf zu Solms- 
Laubach,0/. cit. ; Encyclopaedia Biblica, 
s.v. "Fig-tree," vol. iv. 1519. The 
ancients were well aware of the produc- 
tion of these insects in the wild fig-tree 
and their transference to the cultivated 
fig-tree. Sometimes instead of fertilising 
the trees by hand they contented them- 
selves with planting wild fig-trees near 
cultivated fig-trees, so that the fertilisa- 
tion was effected by the wind, which blew 
the insects from the male to the female 
trees. See Aristotle, I.e. ; Theophras- 
tus, De causis plantarum, ii. 9 ; Pliny, 
Nat. Hist. xv. 79-81 ; Palladius, iv. 
10. 28. On subject of the fertilisation 
of the fig the late Professor H. Mar- 
shall Ward of Cambridge kindly fur- 
nished me with the following note, 
which will serve to supplement and 
correct the brief account in the text : 
"The fig is a hollow case full of 
flowers. In the wild fig a small gall 
wasp ( Cynips psenes) lays its eggs : this 
kind of fig is still called Caprificus. 
The eggs hatch in the female flowers at 
the base of the hollow fig : at the top, 
near the ostiole observable on any ripe 
fig, are the male flowers. When the 

eggs hatch, and the little insects creep 
through the ostiole, the male flowers 
dust the wasp with pollen, and the 
insect flies to another flower (to lay its 
e gg s )> an d so fertilises many of the 
female flowers in return for the nursery 
afforded its eggs. Now, the cultivated 
fig is apt to be barren of male flowers. 
Hence the hanging of branches bear- 
ing wild figs enables the escaping wasps 
to do the trick. The ancients knew 
the fact that the propinquity of the 
Caprificus helped the fertility of the 
cultivated fig, but, of course, they did 
not know the details of the process. 
The further complexities are, chiefly, 
that the fig bears two kinds of female 
flowers : one especially fitted for the 
wasp's convenience, the other not. 
The Caprificus figs are inedible. In 
Naples three crops of th'.-m are borne 
every year, viz. Mamme (in April), 
Profichi (in June), and Mammoni (in 
August). It is the June crop that bears 
most male flowers and is most useful." 
The suggestion that the festival of the 
seventh of July was connected with 
this horticultural operation is due to L. 
Preller (Romische Mythologie? i. 287). 

2 See above, pp. 24 sq. 

3 I Kings iv. 25 ; 2 Kings xviii. 



import- attempted to dissuade Croesus from marching against the 
ance of Persians, he represented to him that there was nothing to be 
arfarfide gained by conquering the inhabitants of a barren country who 
of diet. neither drank wine nor ate figs. 1 An Arab commentator on 
the Koran observes that " God swears by these two trees, the 
fig and the olive, because among fruit-trees they surpass all 
the rest. They relate that a basket of figs was offered to the 
prophet Mohammed, and when he had eaten one he bade 
his comrades do the same, saying, ' Truly, if I were to say 
that any fruit had come down from Paradise, I would say it 
of the fig.' " 2 Hence it would be natural that a process 
supposed to be essential to the ripening of so favourite a 
fruit should be the occasion of a popular festival. We may 
suspect that the license allowed to slave women on this day 
formed part of an ancient Saturnalia, at which the loose 
behaviour of men and women was supposed to secure the 
fertilisation of the fig-trees by homoeopathetic magic. 
At the But it is possible and indeed probable that the fertilisa- 

theseventh ^ on was believed to be mutual ; in other words, it may have 
of July been imagined, that while the women caused the fig-tree to 
bear fruit, the tree in its turn caused them to bear children, 
probably This conjecture is confirmed by a remarkable African parallel, 
befcrtiiise'd The Akikuyu of British East Africa attribute to the wild fig- 
by the fig tree t he power of fertilising barren women. For this purpose 
to fertilise they apply the white sap or milk to various parts of the body 
of the would-be mother ; then, having sacrificed a goat, they 
tie the woman to a wild fig-tree with long strips cut from the 
of barren intestines of the sacrificial animal. " This seems," writes Mr. 
the^nd y C. W. Hobley, who reports the custom, " to be a case of the 
fig-tree tree marriage of India. I fancy there is an idea of ceremonial 

among the . -11 ... , . , 

Akikuyu of marriage with the ancestral spirits which are said to inhabit 

'j sh certain of these fig-trees ; in fact it supports the Kamba idea 

Africa. of the spiritual husbands." J The belief in spiritual husbands, 

31 ; Isaiah xxxvi. 16 ; Micah iv. 4; 
Zechariah iii. 10 ; Judges ix. 10 sq. ; 
H. B. Tristram, The Natural History 
of the Bible 9 (London, 1898), pp. 350 
sqq. ; Encyclopaedia Biblica, s.v. "Fig 
Tree," vol. ii. 1519 sq. 

1 Herodotus, i. 71. 

2 Zamachschar, cited by Graf zu 
Solms-Laubach, op. cit. p. 82. For 

more evidence as to the fig in antiquity 
see V. Hehn, Kulturpflanzen ttnd 
Hausthiere," 1 pp. 94 sqq. 

3 Letter of Mr. C. W. Hobley to 
me, dated Nairobi, British East Africa, 
July 27th, 1910. This interesting in- 
formation was given spontaneously and 
not in answer to any questions of 


to which Mr. Hobley here briefly refers, is as follows. The 
Akamba of British East Africa imagine that every married 
woman is at the same time the wife of a living man and also 
the wife of the spirit of some departed ancestor (az'mu). 
They are firmly convinced that the fertility of a wife depends 
to a great extent on the attentions of her spiritual husband, 
and if she does not conceive within six months after marriage 
they take it as a sign that her spiritual husband is neglecting 
her ; so they offer beer and kill a goat as a propitiatory 
sacrifice. If after that the woman still remains barren, they 
make a bigger feast and kill a bullock. On the other hand, 
if a wife is found to be with child soon after marriage, they 
are glad and consider it a proof that she has found favour in 
the eyes of her ghostly husband. Further, they believe that Belief 
at death the human spirit quits the bodily frame and takes ^i^mba 
up its abode in a wild fig-tree (inumbo) ; hence they build that the 
miniature huts at the foot of those fig-trees which are thought thTdead 
to be haunted by the souls of the dead, and they periodically live in wild 
sacrifice to these spirits. 1 Accordingly, we may conjecture, g ~ 
though we are not told, that amongst the Akamba, as among 
the Akikuyu, a barren woman sometimes resorts to a wild fig- 
tree in order to obtain a child, since she believes that her 
spiritual spouse has his abode in the tree. The Akikuyu clearly 
attribute a special power of fertilisation to the milky sap of 
the tree, since they apply it to various parts of the woman 
who desires to become a mother : perhaps they regard it as 
the seed of the fig. This may explain why the Roman slave- 
women offered the milky juice of the tree to Juno Caprotina ; 
they may have intended thereby to add to the fecundity of 
the mother goddess. And we can scarcely doubt that the 
rods which they cut from the wild fig-tree, for the purpose' 
apparently of beating each other, were supposed to com- 
municate the generative virtue of the tree to the women who 

1 C. W. Hobley, The Ethnology of " This is the principal tree used for 

A-Kamba and other East African Tribes making bark-cloth. Livingstone says, 

(Cambridge, 1910), pp. 85, 89 sq. In ' It is a sacred tree all over Africa and 

British Central Africa "every village India'; and I learn from M. Auguste 

has its ' prayer-tree,' under which the Chevalier that it is found in every 

sacrifices are offered. It stands (usually) village of Senegal and French Guinea, 

in the bwalo, the open space which Mr. and looked on as 'a fetich-tree ' " 

Macdonald calls the 'forum,' and is, (Miss A.Werner, The Natives of British 

somelimes, at any rate, a wild fig-tree." Central Africa, pp. 62 sq.). 



Supposed were struck by them. The Baganda of Central Africa appear 
; e ' n to ascribe to the wild banana-tree the same power of removing 

by the wild barrenness which the Akikuyu attribute to the wild fig- 
tree. For when a wife has no child, she and her husband 

among the w [\\ sometimes repair to a wild banana-tree and there, 
standing one on each side of the tree, partake of the male 
organs of a goat, the man eating the flesh and drinking 
the soup and the woman drinking the soup only. This 
is believed to ensure conception after the husband has gone 
in to his wife. 1 Here again, as among the Akikuyu, we 
see that the fertilising virtue of the tree is reinforced by 
the fertilising virtue of the goat ; and we can therefore 
better understand why the Romans called the male wild 
fig-tree " goat-fig," and why the Messenians dubbed it simply 
" he-goat." 

The association of the death of Romulus with the festival 
of the wild fig-tree can hardly be accidental, especially as 
he and his twin -brother Remus were said to have been 
suckled by the she-wolf under a fig-tree, the famous ficus 
Ruminalis, which was shewn in the forum as one of the 
sacred objects of Rome and received offerings of milk down to 
late times. 2 Indeed, some have gone so far both in ancient 
and modern times as to derive the names of Romulus and 
Rome itself from this fig-tree (ficus Ruminalis} ; if they are 

bear fruit, right, Romulus was "the fig-man" and Rome " the fig-town." 3 
Be that as it may, the clue to the association of Romulus 
with the fig is probably furnished by the old belief that 
the king is responsible for the fruits of the earth and the rain 
from heaven. We may conjecture that on this principle the 
Roman king was expected to make the fig-trees blossom and 

king may 
have cele- 
brated a 
on the 
tinae as a 
charm to 
make the 

1 From the unpublished papers of the 
Rev. John Roscoe, which he has kindly 
placed at my disposal. 

2 Varro, De lingua Latina, v. 54 ; 
Livy, i. 4. 5 ; Ovid, Fasti, ii. 411 sq. ; 
Pliny, Nat. Hist. xv. 77 ; Festus, pp. 
266, 270, 27 1 , ed. C. O. Miiller; Tacitus, 
Annals, xiii. 58 ; Servius on Virgil, 
Ae.n. viii. 90 ; Plutarch, Romulus, 
4 ; id. , Quaestiones Romanae, 5 7 ; 
Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Antiquitates 
Romanae, iii. 71. 5. All the Roman 

writers speak cf the tree as a cultivated 
fig (ficus) , not a wild fig (caprificus), 
and Dionysius agrees with them. 
Plutarch alone (Romulus, 4) describes 
it as a wild fig-tree (tpivffa). See also 
above, p. 10. 

3 Festus, p. 266, ed. C. O. Miiller ; 
Ettore Pais, Ancient Legends of Roman 
History (London, 1906), pp. 55 sqq. 
Festus indeed treats the derivation as 
an absurdity, and many people will be 
inclined to agree with him. 


bear figs, and that in order to do so he masqueraded us 
the god of the fig-tree and went through a form of sacred 
marriage, either with his queen or with a slave -woman, 
on the July day when the husbandmen resorted to a 
more efficacious means of producing the same result. The 
ceremony of the sacred marriage need not have been re- 
stricted to a single day in the year. It may well have been 
repeated for many different crops and fruits. If the Queen 
of Athens was annually married to the god of the vine, 
why should not the King of Rome have annually wedded 
the goddess of the fig ? 

But, as we have seen, Romulus, the first king of The mar- 
Rome, is said to have perished on the day of this festival divfnekLg 
of the fig, which, if our hypothesis is correct, was also or human 
the day of his ceremonial marriage to the tree. That fojiowedby 
the real date of his death should have been preserved by his deatn - 
tradition is very improbable ; rather we may suppose 
that the reason for dating his death and his marriage 
on the same day was drawn from some ancient ritual in 
which the two events were actually associated. But we 
have still to ask, Why should the king's wedding-day 
be also the day of his death ? The answer must be 
deferred for the present. All we need say now is that 
elsewhere the marriage of the divine king or human god 
has been regularly followed at a brief interval by his 
violent end. For him, as for others, death often treads on 
the heels of love. 1 

1 On the fifth of July a ceremony Republic, pp. 174 sqq. Mr. Warde 

called the Flight of the People was Fowler may be right in thinking that 

performed at Rome. Some ancient some connexion perhaps existed be- 

writers thought that it commemorated tween the ceremonies of the two days, 

the dispersal of the people after the the fifth and the seventh ; and I agree 

disappearance of Romulus. But this is with his suggestion that "the story 

to confuse the dates ; for, according to itself of the death of Romulus had 

tradition, the death of Romulus took grown out of some religious rite per- 

place on the seventh, not the fifth of formed at this time of year." I note 

July, and therefore after instead of as a curious coincidence, for it can 

before the Flight of the People. hardly be more, that at Bodmin in 

See Varro, De lingua Latina, Cornwall a festival was held on the 

vi. 1 8 ; Macrobius, Sat. iii. 2. 14 ; seventh of July, when a Lord of 

Dionysius Halicarn. Ant. Rom. ii. Misrule was appointed, who tried 

56. 5 ; Plutarch, Romulus, 29 ; id., people for imaginary crimes and sen- 

Camillus, 33 ; W. Warde Fowler, tcnced them to be ducked in a quag- 

Roman Festivals of the Period of the mire called Halgaver, which is ex- 



ends of 
and other 

Another Roman king who perished by violence was 
Tatius, the Sabine colleague of Romulus. It is said that he 
was at Lavinium offering a public sacrifice to the ancestral 
gods, when some men to whom he had given umbrage 
despatched him with the sacrificial knives and spits which 
they had snatched from the altar. 1 The occasion and the 
manner of his death suggest that the slaughter may have 
been a sacrifice rather than an assassination. Again, 
Tullus Hostilius, the successor of Numa, was commonly 
said to have been killed by lightning, but many held that 
he was murdered at the instigation of Ancus Marcius, who 
reigned after him. 2 Speaking of the more or less mythical 
Numa, the type of the priestly king, Plutarch observes that 
" his fame was enhanced by the fortunes of the later kings. 
For of the five who reigned after him the last was deposed 
and ended his life in exile, and of the remaining four not 
one died a natural death ; for three of them were assassin- 
ated and Tullus Hostilius was consumed by thunderbolts." * 
This implies that King Ancus Marcius, as well as Tarquin 
the Elder and Servius Tullius, perished by the hand of an 
assassin. No other ancient historian, so far as I know, 
records this of Ancus Marcius, though one of them says that 
the king " was carried off by an untimely death." 4 Tarquin 
the Elder was slain by two murderers whom the sons of his 
predecessor, Ancus Marcius, had hired to do the deed. 5 
Lastly, Servius Tullius came by his end in circumstances 
which recall the combat for the priesthood of Diana at 
Nemi. He was attacked by his successor and killed by his 
orders, though not by his hand. Moreover, he lived among 
the oak groves of the Esquiline Hill at the head of the 

plained to mean "the goat's moor." 
See T. F. Thiselton Dyer, British 
Popular Customs, p. 339. The " goat's 
moor" is an odd echo of the "goat's 
marsh " at which Romulus disappeared 
on the same day of the year (Livy, i. 
1 6. l; Plutarch, Romulus, 29; id., 
Camillus, 33). 

1 Livy, i. 14. I sq. ; Dionysius 
Halicarn. Ant. Rom. ii. 52. 3 ; 
Plutarch, Romulus, 23. 

'* Dionysius Halicarn. Ant. Rom. 
iii. 35 ; Zonaras, Annales, vii. 6. As 

to his reported death by lightning, see 
above, p. 181. 

3 Plutarch, Numa, 22. I have 
pruned the luxuriant periods in which 
Plutarch dwells, with edifying unction, 
on the righteous visitation of God 
which overtook that early agnostic 
Tullus Hostilius. 

4 Aurelius Victor, De viris ittustri- 
bus, v. 5. 

5 Livy, i. 40 ; Dionysius Halicarn. 
Ant. Rom. iii. 73. 


Slope of Virbius, and it was here, beside a sanctuary of 
Diana, that he was slain. 1 

These legends of the violent ends of the Roman kings The suc- 
suggest that the contest by which they gained the throne t^L^n 
may sometimes have been a mortal combat rather than a kingship 
race. If that were so, the analogy which we have traced ^es^Tv 
between Rome and Nemi would be still closer. At both been 
places the sacred kings, the living representatives of the god- bysingie 
head, would thus be liable to suffer deposition and death at the combat, 
hand of any resolute man who could prove his divine right 
to the holy office by the strong arm and the sharp sword. It 
would not be surprising if among the early Latins the claim to 
the kingdom should often have been settled by single combat ; 
for down to historical times the Umbrians regularly submitted 
their private disputes to the ordeal of battle, and he who 
cut his adversary's throat was thought thereby to have 
proved the justice of his cause beyond the reach of cavil. 2 
" Any one who remembers how in the forests of Westphalia 
the Femgericht set the modern civil law at defiance down 
into the eighteenth century, and how in the mountains of 
Corsica and Sardinia blood-revenge has persisted and per- 
sists to our own days, will not wonder that hardly a century 
after the union of Italy the Roman legislation had not yet 
succeeded in putting down the last relics of this ancient 
Italian or rather Indo-European mode of doing justice in 
the nests of the Apennines." 3 

A parallel to what I conceive to have been the rule of the 

1 Livy, i. 48 ; Dionysius Halicarn. Nemi. As to the oak - woods of the 
Ant. Rom. iv. 38 sq.; Solinus, i. 25. Esquiline see above, p. 185. 

The reading Virbium clivum ("the 9 XT . , ,-. . ~. , 

r IT- u- \ t Nicolaus Damascenus, in Stobaeus, 

slope of Virbius ) occurs only in the ,,, ., . - T,- > 

Florilegium, x. 70: Frarmenta Histori- 

more recent manuscripts of Livy : the ,-, , .-, ,..,, 

u f T A corum Graecorum, ed. C. Muller, in. 
better-attested reading both of Livy and 

Solinus is Urbium. But the obscure 

Virbium would easily and naturally be 3 H. Jordan, Die Konige im alien 

altered into Urbium, whereas the re- Italien (Berlin, 1887), pp. 44 sq. In 

verse change is very improbable. See this his last work Jordan argues that 

Mr. A. B. Cook, in Classical Review, the Umbrian practice, combined with 

xvi. (1902) p.' 380, note 3. In the rule of the Arician priesthood, 

this passage Mr. Cook was the first to throws light on the existence and 

call attention to the analogy between nature of the kingship among the 

the murder of the slave-born king, ancient Latins. On this subject I am 

Servius Tullius, and the slaughter of happy to be at one with so learned 

the slave - king by his successor at and judicious a scholar. 




for the 
in Africa. 

In Greece 
and Italy 
kings prob- 
ably per- 
Cronus and 
the god 
of the seed, 
before they 
Zeus and 
Jupiter, the 
god of the 

old Latin kingship is furnished by a West African custom 
of to-day. When the Maluango or king of Loango, who 
is deemed the representative of God on earth, has been 
elected, he has to take his stand at Nkumbi, a large tree 
near the entrance to his sacred ground. Here, encouraged 
by one of his ministers, he must fight all rivals who present 
themselves to dispute his right to the throne. 1 This is one 
of the many instances in which the rites and legends of 
ancient Italy are illustrated by the practice of modern Africa. 
Similarly among the Banyoro of Central Africa, whose 
king had to take his life with his own hand whenever his 
health and strength began to fail, the succession to the 
throne was determined by a mortal combat among the 
claimants, who fought till only one of them was left alive. 2 
Even in England a relic of a similar custom survived till" 
lately in the coronation ceremony, at which a champion 
used to throw down his glove and challenge to mortal 
combat all who disputed the king's right to the crown. The 
ceremony was witnessed by Pepys at the coronation of 
Charles the Second. 3 

In the foregoing enquiry we have found reason to sup- 
pose that the Roman kings personated not only Jupiter the 
god of the oak, but Saturn the god of the seed and per- 
haps also the god of the fig-tree. The question naturally 
arises, Did they do so simultaneously or successively ? In 
other words, did the same king regularly represent the oak- 
god at one season of the year, the seed-god at another, and 
the fig-god at a third ? or were there separate dynasties of 
oak-kings, seed-kings, and fig-kings, who belonged perhaps 
to different stocks and reigned at different times ? The 

1 R. E. Dennett, At the Back of the 
Black Jlfan's Mind (London, 1906), 
pp. ii sq., in, 131 J?., 135. The 
word translated "sacred ground" 
(xibila, plural bibila] means properly 
' ' sacred grove. " Such " sacred groves " 
are common in this part of Africa, but 
in the "sacred grove" of the king of 
Loango the tree beside which the 
monarch takes post to fight for the 
crown appears to stand solitary in a 
grassy plain. See R. E. Dennett, 
op. fit. pp. II sq., 25, 96 sqq., HO 
sqq. We have seen that the right of 

succession to the throne of Loango 
descends in the female line (above, 
pp. 276 sq. ), which furnishes another 
point of resemblance between Loango 
and Rome, if my theory of the Roman 
kingship is correct. 

2 J. G. Frazer, Totemism and Exog- 
amy, ii. 530. My authority is the 
Rev. John Roscoe, formerly of the 
Church Missionary Society in Uganda. 

8 Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, edited 
by Richard, Lord Braybrooke, Second 
Edition (London, 1828), i. 193 sq. 
(under April 23rd, 1661). 


evidence does not allow us to answer these questions 
definitely. But tradition certainly points to the conclusion 
that in Latium and perhaps in Italy generally the seed- 
god Saturn was an older deity than the oak-god Jupiter, just 
as in Greece Cronus appears to have preceded Zeus. Per- 
haps Saturn and Cronus were the gods of an old indigenous 
and agricultural people ; while Jupiter and Zeus were the 
divinities of a ruder invading race, which swarmed down 
into Italy and Greece from the forests of central Europe, 
bringing their wild woodland deities to dwell in more fertile 
lands, under softer skies, side by side with the gods of the 
corn and the vine, the olive and the fig. If that was so, 
we may suppose that before the irruption of these northern 
barbarians the old kings of Greece and Italy personated the 
gods of the fat field and fruitful orchard, and that it was 
not till after the conquest that their successors learned to 
pose as the god of the verdant oak and the thundering sky. 
However, on questions so obscure we must be content to 
suspend our judgment. It is unlikely that the student's 
search-light will ever pierce the mists that hang over these 
remote ages. All that we can do is to follow the lines of 
evidence backward as far as they can be traced, till, after 
growing fainter and fainter, they are lost altogether in the 



The early IN the course of the preceding investigation we found 
reason to assume that the old Latin kings, like their 
much a brethren in many parts of the world, were charged with 
onagri- ^ certain religious duties or magical functions, amongst which 
cultural the maintenance of the fertility of the earth held a principal 
and P their place. By this I do not mean that they had to see to it 
kings on iy that the rain fell, and that the corn grew and trees 

would be -,,.,..., T1 

expected to put forth their fruit in due season. In those early days it 
ensure the j s p ro bable that the Italians were quite as much a pastoral 
fecundity as an agricultural people, or, in other words, that they 
flocks and depended for their subsistence no less on their flocks and 
herds. herds than on their fields and orchards. To provide their 
cattle with grass and water, to ensure their fecundity and 
the abundance of their milk, and to guard them from the 
depredations of wild beasts, would be objects of the first 
importance with the shepherds and herdsmen who, accord- 
ing to tradition, founded Rome ; l and the king, as the 
representative or embodiment of the deity, would be ex- 
pected to do his part towards procuring these blessings for 
his people by the performance of sacred rites. The Greeks 
of the Homeric age, as we have seen, thought that the 
reign of a good king not only made the land to bear wheat 

1 Varro, Rerum rusticarum, ii. I. Caprilius, "goat -man," Equitius, 

9 sq, " Romanorum vero populum a "horse-man," Taurius, "bull-man," 

pastoribus esse ortum quis non dicit ? " and so forth. On the importance of 

etc. Amongst other arguments in favour cattle and milk among the ancient 

of this view Varro refers to the Roman Aryans see O. Schrader, Reallexikon 

personal names derived from cattle, der indogermanischen Altertumskunde 

both large and small, such as Porcius, (Strasburg, 1901), pp. 541 sf., 689 

"pig-man," Ovinius, "sheep-man," sff-, 913 sqq. 



and barley, but also caused the flocks to multiply and the 
sea to yield fish. 1 

In this connexion, accordingly, it can be no mere Numa is 
accident that Rome is said to have been founded and ha'^been 
the pious king Numa to have been born on the twenty- bom and 
first of April, the day of the great shepherds' festival of the ha^been 
Parilia. 2 It is very unlikely that the real day either of the founded on 
foundation of the city or of Numa's birth should have been herdVfes- 
remembered, even if we suppose Numa to have been a n tivalofthe 

Pariha, the 

historical personage rather than a mythical type ; it is far twenty-first 
more probable that both events were arbitrarily assigned to of April- 
this date by the speculative antiquaries of a later age on 
the ground of some assumed fitness or propriety. In what 
did this fitness or propriety consist ? The belief that the 
first Romans were shepherds and herdsmen would be reason 
enough for supposing that Rome was founded on the day of 
the shepherds' festival, or even that the festival was instituted 
to commemorate the event. 3 But why should Numa be 
thought to have been born on that day of all days ? 
Perhaps it was because the old sacred kings, of whom he 
was the model, had to play an important part in the cere- 
monies of the day. The birthdays of the gods were 
celebrated by festivals ; 4 the kings were divine or semi- 
divine ; it would be natural, therefore, that their birth- 
days should be identified with high feasts and holidays. 
Whether this was so or not, the festival of the Parilia 
presents so many points of resemblance to some of 
the popular customs discussed in these volumes that a 

1 Above, vol. i. p. 366. i. 14, iv. 50. As to the birth of 

2 As to the foundation of Rome on Numa, see Plutarch, Numa, 3. The 
this date see Varro, Rerum rusticarum, festival is variously called Parilia and 
ii. 1.9; Cicero, De divinatione, ii. 47. Palilia by ancient writers, but the 
98; Festus, s.v. " Parilibus," p. 236, form Parilia seems to be the better 
ed. C. O. Muller ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. attested of the two. See G. Wissowa, 
xviii. 247; Propertius, v. 4. 73 sq. ; s.v. "Pales, "inW. H. Roscher'sZ^jrz'^w 
Ovid, Fasti, iv. 801-806; id., Metam. der griech. und rom. Mythologie, iii. 
xiv. 774 sq. ; Velleius Paterculus, i. 8. 1278. 

4 ; Eutropius, i. I ; Solinus, i. 18 ; 3 Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ant. 

Censorinus, De die natali, xxi. 6 ; Rom. i. 88) hesitates between these 

Probus on Virgil, Georg. iii. i ; two views. With truer historical in- 

Schol. Veronens. on Virgil, I.e. ; sight Plutarch (Romulus, 12) holds that 

Dionysius Halicarnas., Ant. Rom. i. the rustic festival was older than the 

88; Plutarch, Romulus, 12; Dio foundation of Rome. 

Cassius, xliii. 42 ; Zonaras, Annales, * See, for example, vol. 5. above, 

vii. 3 ; Joannes Lydus, De intnsibus, p. 32. 


brief examination of it may not be inappropriate in this 
place. 1 

The The spring festival of the twenty-first of April, known 

stival a as t^e birthday of Rome, 2 was deemed second in importance 
celebrated to none in the calendar. 3 It was held by shepherds and 
herdTand herdsmen for the welfare and increase of their flocks and 
herdsmen herds. 4 The pastoral deity to whom they paid their devo- 
ofPaiesT tions was Pales, as to whose sex the ancients themselves 
for the were not at one. In later times they commonly spoke of 
increase her as a goddess ; but Varro regarded Pales as masculine, 5 
ftheir and we may follow his high authority. The day was 
herds. celebrated with similar rites both in the town and the 
country, but in its origin it must have been a strictly rural 
festival. Indeed, it could hardly be carried out in full 
except among the sheepfolds and cattle-pens. At some 
time of the day, probably in the morning, the people re- 
paired to the temple of Vesta, where they received from the 
Vestal Virgins ashes, blood, and bean-straw to be used in 
fumigating themselves and probably their beasts. The 
ashes were those of the unborn calves which had been torn 
from their mothers' wombs on the fifteenth of April ; the 
blood was that which had dripped from the tail of a horse 
sacrificed in October. 6 Both were probably supposed to 
exercise a fertilising as well as a cleansing influence on the 
people and on the cattle ; 7 for apparently one effect of the 
ceremonies, in the popular opinion, was to quicken the 
wombs of women no less than of cows and ewes. 8 At break 

1 For modern discussions of . the 3 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. 

Parilia, see L. Preller, Romische Mytho- Rom. i. 88. 

logie? i. 413 sqq.\ ]. Marquardt, 4 Festus, s.v. " Pales," p. 222, ed. 

Romische Staatsverwaltung, iii. 2 207 C. O. Miiller ; Dionysius Halic. I.e. 
sq. ; W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und 6 Servius on Virgil, Georg. iii. I. 

Feldkulte, pp. 309-317; W. Warde See also Arnobius, Adversus nationes, 

Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. 79- iii. 4O ; Martianus Capella, i. 50. 
85 ; G. Wissowa, s.v. " Pales," in W. Qvid F(uH [y 637-640, 731- 

?! f, S * I" %"*';? 734? Propertius, v. I. 19 sq. 

rom. Mythologie, 111. 1276-1280; id., 

Religion und Kultus der Romer, pp. r .f ee f ove > P- 22 9- As to the 

jg. sacrifice of the horse in October see The 

* Cicero, De divinatiom, ii. 47. 98; Golden Bou 8 h > Second Edition > "'315 

Ovid, Fasti, iv. 806; Calendar of sqq - 

Philocalus, quoted by W. Warde 8 Tibullus, ii. 5. 91 sq. : 

Fowler, op. cit. p. 79 ; Probus on " Et fetus matrona dabit, natusque 

Virgil, Georg. iii. i ; Plutarch, Romu- parenti 

lus, 12 ; Zonaras, Annales, vii. 3. Oscula comprensis auribus eripiet." 


of day the shepherd purified his sheep, after sprinkling and The flocks 
sweeping the ground. The fold was decked with leafy ^ un ^^ 
boughs, and a great wreath was hung on the door. 1 The driven 
purification of the flocks apparently consisted in driving 
them over burning heaps of grass, pine-wood, laurel, and 
branches of the male olive-tree. 2 Certainly at some time of 
the day the sheep were compelled to scamper over a fire. 3 
Moreover, the bleating flocks were touched with burning 
sulphur and fumigated with its blue smoke. 4 Then the 
shepherd offered to Pales baskets of millet, cakes of millet, 
and pails of warm milk. Next he prayed to the god The 
that he would guard the fold from the evil powers, inr 
eluding probably witchcraft ; 5 that the flocks, the men, 
and the dogs might be hale and free from disease; that 
the sheep might not fall a prey to wolves ; that grass 
and leaves might abound ; that water might be plentiful ; 
that the udders of the dams might be full of milk ; 
that the rams might be lusty, and the ewes prolific ; that 
many lambs might be born ; and that there might be much 
wool at shearing. 6 This prayer the shepherd had to repeat 
four times, looking to the east ; then he washed his hands 
in the morning dew. After that he drank a bowl of milk 
and wine, and, warmed with the liquor, leaped over burning 
heaps of crackling straw. This practice of jumping over a 
straw fire would seem to have been a principal part of the 
ceremonies : at least it struck the ancients themselves, for 
they often refer to it. 7 

The shepherd's prayer at the Parilia is instructive, 
because it gives us in short a view of the chief wants of 

1 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 735-738. In his " Consule, die, pecori pariter pecorisqtie 
account of the festival Ovid mentions magistris : 

only shepherds and sheep; but since Ejfugiat stabulis noxa repulsa meis." 

Pales was a god of cattle as well as of With this sense of noxa compare id. 

sheep (Arnobius, Adversus naliones, v i. 129 sq., where it is said that buck- 

iii. 23), we may suppose that herds thorn or hawthorn " tristes pellere 

and herdsmen equally participated in posset a foribtis noxas." 

it. Dionysius (I.e.) speaks of four- 8 Qvid, Fasti, iv. 763-774. The 

footed beasts in general. prayer that the wolves may be kept 

2 So Mr. W. Warde Fowler under- far from the fold is mentioned also by 
stands Ovid, Fasti, iv. 735-742. Tibullus (ii. 5. 88). 

a r\ -j c- , Q , 7 Ovid, /<w/i, iv. 779-782; Tibullus, 

3 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 805 so. .. ' 

n. 5. 89 sq. ; Propertius, v. i. 19, v. 

Ovid, Fasti, iv. 739^. 4 . 7? ^ . p er sius, i. 72; Probus on 

6 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 747 sq. : Virgil, Georg. iii. i. 


The shep- the pastoral life. The supplication for grass and leaves 
herd has to an j water re minds us that the herdsman no less than the 


the tree- husbandman depends ultimately on vegetation and rain ; 
d so that the same divine powers which cover the fields of 

spirits. the one with yellow corn may be conceived to carpet the 
meadows of the other with green grass, and to diversify them 
with pools and rivers for the refreshment of the thirsty 
cattle. And it is to be borne in mind that in countries 
where grass is less plentiful than under the rainy skies of 
northern Europe, sheep, goats, and cattle still subsist in 
great measure on the leaves and juicy twigs of trees. 1 .Hence 
in these lands the pious shepherd and goatherd cannot 
afford to ignore or to offend the tree-spirits, on whose favour 
and bounty his flocks are dependent for much of their 
fodder. Indeed, at the Parilia the shepherd made elaborate 
excuses to these divine beings for any trespass he might 
unwittingly have committed on their hallowed domain by 
entering a sacred grove, sitting in the shadow of a holy tree, 
or lopping leafy branches from it with which to feed a sickly 
sheep. 2 In like manner he craved pardon of the water- 
nymphs, if the hoofs of his cattle had stirred up the mud in 
their clear pools ; and he implored Pales to intercede for 
him with the divinities of springs " and the gods dispersed 
through every woodland glade." 3 

The Parilia was generally considered to be the best 
time for coupling the rams and the ewes ; 4 and it has been 

1 I owe this observation to F. A. have differed from that of modern 
Paley, on Ovid, Fasti, iv. 754. He English breeders. In a letter (dated 
refers to Virgil, Georg. ii. 435, Ed. 8th February 1908) my friend Pro- 
x. 30 ; Theocritus, xi. 73 sq. ; to fessor W. Somerville of Oxford writes : 
which may be added Virgil, Georg. iii. " It is against all modern custom to 
300 sq., 320 sq. ; Horace, Epist. i. arrange matters so that lambs are born 
14. 28; Cato, De re rustica, 30; five months after April 2 1 , say the end 
Columella, De re rustica, vii. 3. 21, xi. of September." And, again, in another 
2. 83 and 99-101. From these pass- letter (dated i6th February 1908) he 
ages of Cato and Columella we writes to me : " The matter of coupling 
learn that the Italian farmer fed his ewes and rams in the end of April is 
cattle on the leaves of the elm, the very perplexing. In this country it is 
ash, the poplar, the oak, the evergreen only the Dorset breed of sheep that 
oak, the fig, and the laurel. will ' take ' the ram at this time of the 

2 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 749-754. year. In the case of other breeds the 

3 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 757-760. ewe will only take the ram in autumn, 

4 Columella, De re rustica, vii. 3. say from July to November, so that the 
11. In this respect the practice of lambs are born from January to May. 
ancient Italian farmers would seem to We consider that lambs born late in the 


suggested that it was also the season when the flocks ar>d The Pariiia 
herds, after being folded and stalled throughout the winter, 

were turned out for the first time to pasture in spring. 1 The the time 

c ii_ ' i_ i j 11 when the 

occasion is an anxious one for the shepherd, especially in flocks and 
countries which are infested with wolves, as ancient Italy herds were 
was. 2 Accordingly the Italian shepherd propitiated Pales f or t h e 
with a slaughtered victim before he drove his flocks afield first tl . me 
in spring ; 8 but it is doubtful whether this sacrifice formed to graze in 
part of the Pariiia. None of the ancient authors who ex- the P en< 
pressly describe the Pariiia mention the slaughter of a 
victim ; and in Plutarch's day a tradition ran that of old no 
blood was shed at the festival. 4 But such a tradition seems 
to point to a contrary practice in after-times. In the 
absence of decisive evidence the question must be left open ; 
but modern analogy, as we shall see, strongly supports the 
opinion that immediately at the close of the Pariiia the 
flocks and herds were driven out to graze in the open 
pastures for the first time after their long winter confinement. 
On this view a special significance is seen to attach to some 
of the features of the festival, such as the prayer for protec- 
tion against the wolf; for the brute could hardly do the 
sheep and kine much harm so long as they were safely pent 
within the walls of the sheepcote and the cattle-stall. 

As the Pariiia is said to have been celebrated by The 
Romulus, who sacrificed to the gods and caused the people 
to purify themselves by leaping over flames, 5 some scholars perhaps to 
have inferred that it was customary for the king, and after- S0 m e ar| 
wards for his successor, the chief pontiff, or the King of the important 
Sacred Rites, to offer sacrifices for the people at the Pariiia. 6 function at 
The inference is reasonable and receives some confirmation, the Pari1 *- 
as we shall see presently, from the analogy of modern 
custom. Further, the tradition that Numa was born on the 
day of the Pariiia may be thought to point in the same way, 
since it is most naturally explicable on the hypothesis that 

season, say May or June, never thrive 3 Calpurnius, Bucol. v. 16-28. 

well." . * Plutarch, Romulus, 12. 

1 The suggestion was made by C. G. 6 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Ant. 
Heyne in his commentary on Tibullus, Rom. I. 88. 

i. 5. 88. 6 This is the view of J. Marquardt 

2 O. Keller, Thiere des classischen (Romische Stoat svenvaltung, Hi.* 207), 
Alterthums (Innsbruck, 1887), pp. 158 and Mr. W. Warde Fowler (Roman 
sqq. Festivals, p. 83, note I). 


the king had to discharge some important function at the 

festival. Still, it must be confessed that the positive 

evidence for connecting the Roman kings with the celebra- 

tion of the twenty-first of April is slight and dubious. 

ThePariiia On the whole the festival of the Parilia, which probably 

intended to ^ jj ^ Qr near ^e time of turning out the cattle to pasture 

ensure the 3 r 

welfare of in spring, was designed to ensure their welfare and increase, 
a^'di'to" 1 and to guard them from the insidious machinations or the 
guard open attacks of their various enemies, among whom witches 
against an ^ wolves were perhaps the most dreaded. 
witches Now it can hardly be a mere coincidence that down to 

wolves. modern times a great popular festival of this sort has been 
A cele- celebrated only two days later by the herdsmen and shep- 
r herds of eastern Europe, who still cherish a profound belief 
sort is still in witchcraft, and still fear, with far better reason, the raids 
eastern of wolves on their flocks and herds. The festival falls on 
Europe on the twenty-third of April and is dedicated to St. George, the 
third^oT y patron saint of cattle, horses, and wolves. The Esthonians 
April, the say that on St. George's morning the wolf gets a ring round 

festival of ,/ , , . 

St. George, his snout and a halter about his neck, whereby he is ren- 
the patron d erec l less dangerous till Michaelmas. But if the day should 

saint of J 

cattle, chance to be a Friday at full moon, or if before the day 
horses, and came rO und any person should have been so rash as to 

wolves. J r 

Precau- thump the dirty linen in the wash-tub with two beetles, the 
tions taken cattle will run a serious risk of being devoured by wolves. 
Many are the precautions taken by the anxious Esthonians 

against O n this day to guard their herds from the ravening beasts. 


andwitches Thus some people gather wolfs dung on the preceding 
on St. night, burn it, and fumigate the cattle with it in the morning. 


Day. Or they collect bones from the pastures and burn them at a 
cross-road, which serves as a charm against sickness, sorcery, 
and demons quite as well as against wolves. Others smoke 
the cattle with asafoetida or sulphur to protect them against 
witchcraft and noxious exhalations. They think, too, that 
if you sew stitches on St. George's morning the cubs of the 
wolves will be blind, no doubt because their eyes are sewed 
up by the needle and thread. In order to forecast the fate of 
their herds the peasants put eggs or a sharp weapon, such as 
an axe or a scythe, before the doors of the stalls, and the 
animal which crushes an egg or wounds itself will surely be 


rent by a wolf or will perish in some other fashion before 
the year is out. So certain is its fate that many a man 
prefers to slaughter the doomed beast out of hand for the 
sake of saving at least the beef. 

As a rule the Esthonians drive their cattle out to pasture The 
for the first time on St. George's Day, and the herdsman's 
duties begin from then. If, however, the herds should have drive their 
been sent out to graze before that day, the boys who look ^pasture 
after them must eat neither flesh nor butter while they are f ?r the first 
on duty ; else the wolves will destroy many sheep, and the George's 
cream will not turn to butter in the churn. Further, the Da 7- 
boys may not kindle a fire in the wood, or the wolfs tooth 
would be fiery and he would bite viciously. By St. 
George's Day, the twenty-third of April, there is commonly 
fresh grass in the meadows. But even if the spring should 
be late and the cattle should have to return to their stalls 
hungrier than they went forth, many Esthonian farmers 
insist on turning out the poor beasts on St. George's Day in 
order that the saint may guard them against his creatures 
the wolves. On this morning the farmer treats the herds- 
man to a dram of brandy, and gives him two copper kopecks 
as " tail-money " for every cow in the herd. This money 
the giver first passes thrice round his head and then lays it 
on the dunghill ; for if the herdsman took it from his hand, 
it would in some way injure the herd. Were this ceremony 
omitted, the wolves would prove very destructive, because 
they had not been appeased on St. George's Day. After 
receiving the " tail-money " some herdsmen are wont to 
collect the herd on the village common. Here they set up 
their crook in the ground, place their hat on it, and walk 
thrice round the cattle, muttering spells or the Lord's Prayer 
as they do so. The pastoral crook should be cut from the 
rowan or mountain-ash and consecrated by a wise man, who 
carves mystic signs on it. Sometimes the upper end of the 
crook is hollowed out and filled with quicksilver and asa 
foetida, the aperture being stopped up with resin. Some 
Esthonians cut a cross with a scythe under the door through 
which the herd is to be driven, and fill the furrows of the 
cross with salt to prevent certain evil beings from harming 
the cattle. Further, it is an almost universal custom in 


Esthonia not to hang bells on the necks of the kine till 
St. George's Day ; the few who can give a reason for the 
rule say that the chiming of the bells before that season 
would attract the wild beasts. 1 

Sacrifices In the island of Dago down to the early part of the 

offered 365 nineteenth century there were certain holy trees from which 
on St. no one dared to break a bough ; in spite of the lack of 
wood in the island the fallen branches were allowed to rot 
in heaps on the ground. Under such trees the Esthonians 
of Dago!" 5 us ed to offer sacrifices on St. George's Day for the safety 
and welfare of their horses. The offerings, which consist of 
an e gg> a piece of money, and a bunch of horse-hair tied up 
with a red thread, were buried in the earth. 2 The custom 
is interesting because it exhibits St. George in the two-fold 
character of a patron of horses and of trees. In the latter 
capacity he has already met us more than once under the 
name of Green George. 3 

St. George In Russia the saint is known as Yegory or Yury, and 
patron of here, as m Esthonia, he is a patron of wolves as well as of 
wolves flocks and herds. Many legends speak of the connexion 
in Russia ; which exists between St. George and the wolf. In Little 
the herds Russia the beast is known as " St. George's Dog," and the 

are driven . , 

out to carcases ot sheep which wolves have killed are not eaten, 

P h St fi ref r ^ being held that they have been made over by divine 

time on command to the beasts of the field. 4 The festival of St. 

his day. George on the twenty-third of April has a national as well 

as an ecclesiastical character in Russia, and the mythical 

features of the songs which are devoted to the day prove 

that the saint has supplanted some old Slavonian deity who 

used to be honoured at this season in heathen times. It is 

not as a slayer of dragons and a champion of forlorn 

damsels that St. George figures in these songs, but as a 

patron of farmers and herdsmen who preserves cattle from 

harm, and on whose day accordingly the flocks and herds 

1 Boecler-Kreutzwald, Der Ehsten Estnischen Gesellsckaft zu Dorpat, vii. 

abcrglaubische Gebrduche, Weisen und (1872) p. 61. 

Gewohnheiten, pp. 82-84, 116-118; 2 F. J. Wiedemann, op. cit. p. 

F. J. Wiedemann, Aus dem inneren 413. 

und ausseren Leben der Ehsten, pp. 3 See above, pp. 75 sq. 

332, 356-361; Holzmayer, " Osili- * W. R. S. Ralston, Russian Folk- 

ana," Verhandlungen der gelehrten tales, pp. 344, 345. 


are driven out to browse the fresh pastures for the first time 
after their confinement through the long Russian winter. 
" What the wolf holds in its teeth, that Yegory has given," 
is a proverb which shews how completely he is thought to 
rule over the fold and the stall. Here is one of the 

songs : 

" We have gone around the field, 
We have called Yegory . . . 
' O thou, our brave Yegory ', 
Save our cattle, 

In the field, and beyond the field, 
In the forest, and beyond the forest, 
Under the bright moon, 
Under the red sun, 
From the rapacious wolf, 
From the cruel bear, 
From the cunning beast.' 1 " 

A White-Russian song represents St. George as opening 
with golden keys, probably the sunbeams, the soil which has 
been frost-bound all the winter : 

" Holy Jury, the divine envoy, 
Has gone to God, 
And having taken the golden keys, 
Has unlocked the moist earth, 
Having scattered the clinging dew 
Over White-Russia and all the world." 

In Moravia they "meet the Spring" with a song in which 
they ask Green Thursday, that is, the day before Good Friday, 
what he has done with the keys, and he answers : " I gave 
them to St. George. St. George arose and unlocked the 
earth, so that the grass grew the green grass." In White 
Russia it is customary on St. George's Day to drive the 
cattle afield through the morning dew, and in Little Russia 
and Bulgaria young folk go out early and roll themselves in 
it. 1 In the Smolensk Government on this day the cattle 
are driven out first to the rye-fields and then to the pastures. 
A religious service is held in the stalls before the departure 
of the herd and afterwards in the field, where the stool 

1 W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the grass for good luck on St. George's 

Russian People, pp. 229-231. In the Day. See Mary Hamilton, Greek 

island of Rhodes also it is customary Saints ami their Festivals (Edinburgh 

for people to roll themselves on the and London, 1910), p. 166. 


which supported the holy picture is allowed to stand for 
several weeks till the next procession with the pictures of 
the saints takes place. St. George's Day in this govern- 
ment is the herdsmen's festival, and it is the term from 
which their engagements are dated. 1 And in the Smolensk 
Government, when the herds are being sent out to graze 
on St. George's Day, the following spell is uttered : 

" Deaf man, deaf man, dost thou hear us ? " 
< I hear not." 

' God grant that the wolf may not hear our cattle ! " 
' Cripple, cripple, canst thou catch us ? " 
' / cannot catch." 

' God grant that the wolf may not catch our cattle / " 
' Blind man, blind man, dost thou see us f " 
' / see not" 
' God grant that the wolf may not see our cattle ! " 2 

in Russia But in the opinion of the Russian peasant wolves are 

witches try nQt the Qn ] foes Q f catt j e at th j s season> Qn the CVC of St. 
to steal the 

milk of the George's Day, as well as on the night before Whitsunday 
the'eve and on Midsummer Eve, witches go out naked in the dark 
of St. and cut chips from the doors and gates of farmyards. These 
they boil in a milk-pail, and thus charm away the milk from 
the farms. Hence careful housewives examine their doors 
and smear mud in any fresh gashes they may find in them, 
which frustrates the knavish tricks of the milk-stealing witch. 
Not to be baffled, however, the witches climb the wooden 
crosses by the wayside and chip splinters from them, or lay 
their hands on stray wooden wedges. These they stick into 
a post in the cattle-shed and squeeze them with their hands 
till milk flows from them as freely as from the dugs of 
a cow. At this time also wicked people turn themselves by 
magic art into dogs and black cats, and in that disguise they 
suck the milk of cows, mares, and ewes, while they slaughter 
the bulls, horses, and rams. 3 

1 Olga Bartels, " Aus dem Leben mouths of wild beasts and prevents 
der weissrussischen Landbevolkerung," them from attacking the flocks which 
Zcitschrift fiir Ethnologie, xxxv. (1903) are placed under his protection (L. F. 
p. 659. Sauve, Le Folk-lore des Hautes- Vosges, 

2 W. R. S. Ralston, op. cit. p. 389. p. 127). 

French peasants of the Vosges Moun- 3 W. R. S. Ralston, op. cit. pp. 

tains believe that St. George shuts the 319 sq. 


The Ruthenians of Bukowina and Galicia believe that at St. 
midnight before St. George's Day (the twenty-third of April) 
the witches come in bands of twelve to the hills at the among the 
boundaries of the villages and there dance and play with fire. ians _ 
Moreover, they cull on the mountains the herbs they need for 
their infernal enchantments. Like the Esthonians and the 
Russians, the Ruthenians drive their cattle out to pasture for 
the first time on St. George's Day ; hence during the pre- 
ceding night the witches are very busy casting their spells 
on the cows ; and the farmer is at great pains to defeat 
their fell purpose. With this intent many people catch 
a snake, skin it, and fumigate the cows with the skin on the 
eve of the saint's day. To rub the udders and horns of the 
cows with serpent's fat is equally effective. Others strew 
meal about the animals, saying, " Not till thou hast gathered 
up this meal, shalt thou take the milk from my cow So-and- 
so." Further, sods of turf, with thorn-branches stuck in 
them, are laid on the gate-posts ; and crosses are painted 
with tar on the doors. These precautions keep the witches 
from the cows. If, however, a beast should after all be 
bewitched, the farmer's wife drags a rope about in the dew 
on the morning of St. George's Day. Then she chops it up 
small, mixes salt with it, and scatters the bits among the 
cow's fodder. No sooner has the afflicted animal partaken 
of this compound than the spell is broken. 1 

The Huzuls of the Carpathian Mountains believe that st. 
when a cow gives milk tinged with blood, or no milk ^ rges 
at all, a witch is the cause of it. These maleficent beings among the 
play their pranks especially on the eve of St. George's Day ^g^^. f 
and on Midsummer Eve, but they are most dangerous at the pathians. 
former season, for that night they and the foul fiends hold 
their greatest gathering or sabbath. To steal the cows' 
milk they resort to various devices. Sometimes they run 
about in the shape of dogs and smell the cows' udders. 
Sometimes they rub the udders of their own cows with milk 
taken from a neighbour's kine ; then their own cows yield 
abundant mil'k, but the udders of the neighbour's cows shrivel 
up or give only blood. Others again make a wooden cow 

1 R. F. Kaindl, " Zauberglaube bei den Rutenen in der Bukowina und 
Galizien," Globus, Ixi. (1892) p. 280. 


on the spot where the real cows are generally milked, taking 

care to stick into the ground the knife they used in carving 

the image. Then the wooden cow yields the witch all the 

milk of the cattle which are commonly milked there, while 

the owner of the beasts gets nothing but blood from them. 

Precau- Hence the Huzuls take steps to guard their cows from 

b OI the aken ^ e machinations of witches at this season. For this pur- 

Huzuis pose they kindle a great fire before the house on the eve of 

witches* C St. George's Day, using as fuel the dung which has accumu- 

who try to lated during the winter. Also they place on the gate-posts 

on the eve clods in which are stuck the branches consecrated on Palm 

of Sl Sunday or boughs of the silver poplar, the wood of which is 

deemed especially efficacious in banning fiends. Moreover, 

they make crosses on the doors, sprinkle the cows with mud, 

and fumigate them with incense or the skin of a snake. 

To tie red woollen threads round the necks or tails of the 

animals is also a safeguard against witchcraft. And in June, 

when the snow has melted and the cattle are led to the high 

mountain pastures, the herds have no sooner reached their 

summer quarters than the herdsman makes " living fire " by 

the friction of wood and drives the animals over the ashes in 

order to protect them against witches and other powers of 

evil. The fire thus kindled is kept constantly burning in 

the herdsman's hut till with the chill of autumn the time 

comes to drive the herds down the mountains again. If the 

fire went out in the interval, it would be an ill omen for the 

owner of the pastures. 1 

Sacrifice In some parts of Silesia the might of the witches is 

fn r sSf believed to be at the highest pitch on St. George's Day. 
on St. The people deem the saint very powerful in the matter of 
cattle-breeding and especially of horse-breeding. At the 
Polish village of Ostroppa, not far from Gleiwitz, a sacrifice 
for horses used to be offered at the little village church. It 
has been described by an eye-witness. Peasants on horse- 
back streamed to the spot from all the neighbouring villages, 
not with the staid and solemn pace of pilgrims, but with the 
noise and clatter of merrymakers hastening to a revel. The 
sorry image of the saint, carved in wood and about an ell 

1 R. F. Kaindl, Die Huzukn td., " Zauberglaube bei den Huzulen," 
(Vienna, 1894), pp. 62 sq., 78, 88 sq.; Globus, Ixxvi. (1899) p. 233. 



high, stood in the churchyard on a table covered with a 
white cloth. It represented him seated on horseback and 
spearing the dragon. Beside it were two vessels to receive 
offerings of money and eggs respectively. As each farmer 
galloped up, he dismounted, led his horse by the bridle, 
knelt before the image of the saint, and prayed. After that 
he made his offering of money or eggs, according to his 
means, in the name of his horse. Then he led the beast 
round the church and churchyard, tethered it, and went into 
the church to hear mass and a sermon. Having thus paid 
his devotions to the saint, every man leaped into the saddle 
and made for the nearest public-house as fast as his horse 
could lay legs to the ground. 1 

At Ertringen, in South Bavaria, there is a chapel of St. Festival of 
George, where a festival of the saint used to be held on ^'^e rge ' 
April the twenty-fourth down to the beginning of the nine- patron of 
teenth century. From the whole neighbourhood people 

streamed thither on horseback and in waggons to take part in Bavaria. 
in the ceremony. More than fourteen hundred riders are 
said to have been present on one occasion. The foundation 
of the chapel was attributed to the monastery of Holy Cross 
Vale (Heiligkreuztat), and the abbot and prior with their 
suite attended the festival in state mounted on white horses. 
A burgher of Ertringen had to ride as patron in the. cos- 
tume of St. George, whom he represented. He alone 
bestrode a fiery stallion. After the celebration of high mass 
the horses were blessed at the chapel. Then the procession 
of men on horseback moved round the common lands, wind- 
ing up at the parish church, where it broke up. 2 In many 
villages near Freiburg in Baden St. George is the patron of 
horses, and in some parts of Baden the saint's day (April 
the twenty-third) is the season when cattle are driven out to 
pasture for the first time in spring. 3 

The Saxons of Transylvania think that on the eve of 

1 P. Drechsler, Sitte, Brauch und 2 A. Birlinger, Aus Schwaben (Wies- 

Volksglaube in Schlesien, i. (Leipsic, baden, 1874), ii. 166. Compare /., 

1903) pp. 1 06 sq. The authority quoted Volksthumliches aus Schwaben, ii. 

for the sacrifice is Tiede, Merkwurdig- 21 n. 1 
keiten Schlesiens (1804), pp. 123 sq. 

It is not expressly said, but we may 3 E. H. Meyer, Badisches Volks- 

assume, that the sacrifice was offered Jcben im neunzehnten Jahrhtindert 

on St. George's Day. (Strasburg, 1900), pp. 219, 408. 



st. St. George's Day the witches ride on the backs of the cows 

George's j nto t k e f arm yard, if branches of wild rosebushes or other 
among the thorny shrubs are not stuck over the gate of the yard to 

keep them out. 1 Beliefs and practices of this sort are shared 
iansof by the Roumanians of Transylvania. They, hold that on 
syh-ania St. George's Day the witches keep their sabbath in 
sequestered spots, such as woodland glades, deserted farm- 
steadings, and the like. In Walachia green sods are laid on 
the window-sills and on the lintels of the doors to avert the 
uncanny crew. But in Transylvania the Roumanians, not 
content with setting a thorn-bush in the doorway of the 
house, keep watch and ward all night beside the cattle or 
elsewhere, to catch the witches who are at work stealing the 
milk from the cows. Here, as elsewhere, the day is above 
all the herdsman's festival. It marks the beginning of 
spring ; the shepherds are preparing to start for the distant 
pastures, and they listen with all their ears to some wise- 
acre who tells them how, if the milk should fail in the 
udders of the sheep, they have only to thrash- the shepherd's 
pouch, and every stroke will fall on the witch who is 
pumping the lost milk into her pails. 2 

St. The Walachians look on St. George's Day as very holy ; 

DayThe 3 f r tne X are mainly a pastoral folk, and St. George is the 
herdsman's patron of herds and herdsmen. On that day also, as well 
- the as on * ne day before and the day after, the Walachian 

Waiach- numbers his herd, beginning at one and counting con- 
tinuously up to the total. This he never does at any other 
time of the year. On this day, too, he milks his sheep 
for the first time into vessels which have been carefully 
scoured and are wreathed with flowers. Then too a cake of 
white meal is baked in the shape of a ring, and is rolled on 
the ground in sight of the herd ; and from the length of its 
course omens are drawn as to the good or bad luck of the 
cattle in their summer pastures. If the herd is owned by 
several men, they afterwards lay hold of the ring, and break 

1 J. Haltrich, Zur Volkskunde der 1866), pp. 9, II. Compare R. F. 

Siebenbtirger Sachsen (Vienna, 1885), Kaindl, "Zur Volkskunde der Rumanen 

p- 281. in der Bukowina," Globus, xcii. (1907) 

p. 284. It does not appear whether 

* W. Schmidt, Das Jahr und seine the shepherd's pouch (" Hirtentas- 

Tage in Meinung und Branch der cken") in question is the real pouch 

Jt0rHanenSie6en6urgens(H.ermaT\ns(a.dt, or the plant of that name. 


it among them, and the one who gets the largest piece will 
have the best luck. The milk is made into a cheese which 
is divided ; and the pieces of the cake are given to the 
shepherds. In like manner the wreaths of flowers which 
crowned the pails are thrown into the water, and from the 
way in which they float down-stream the shepherds presage " 
good or evil fortune. 1 

The Bulgarians seem to share the belief that cattle are St. 
especially exposed to the machinations of witches at this season, 
for it is a rule with them not to give away milk, butter, or among the 
cheese on the eve of St. George's Day ; to do so, they say, 
would be to give away the profit of the milch kine. 2 They Slavs - 
rise very early on the morning of this day, and wash them- 
selves in the dew, that they may be healthy. 3 It is said, too, 
that a regular sacrifice is still offered on St. George's Day 
in Bulgaria. An old man kills a ram, while girls spread 
grass on which the blood is poured forth. 4 The intention of 
the sacrifice may be to make the herbage grow abundantly 
in the pastures. Amongst the South Slavs the twenty- 
third of April, St. George's Day, is the chief festival of the 
spring. The herdsman thinks that if his cattle are well on 
that day they will thrive throughout the year. As we have 
already seen, 5 he crowns the horns of his cows with garlands 
of flowers to guard them against witchcraft, and in the even- 
ing the garlands are hung on the doors of the stalls, where they 
remain until the next St. George's Day. Early in the 
morning of that day, when the herdsman drives the cows 
from the byres, the housewife takes salt in one hand and a 
potsherd with glowing coals in the other. She offers the 
salt to the cow, and the beast must step over the smouldering 
coals, on which various kinds of roses are smoking. This 
deprives the witches of all power to harm the cow. On the 
eve or the morning of the day old women cut thistles and 
fasten them to the doors and gates of the farm ; and they 
make crosses with cow's dung on the doors of the byres to 
ward off the witches. Many knock great nails into the 

1 A. und A. Schott, Walachische 3 A. Strausz, op. cit. p. 337. 

Alaehrchen (Stuttgart and Tubingen, . ,,, <-. ~ . . , ,, 

o . 4 W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the 

1898), p. 287. 6 Above, pp. 126 sq. 



Precau- doors, which is thought to be a surer preventive even than 
tions taken ^istles. In certain districts the people cut thistles before 


witchcraft sunrise and put some on each other's heads, some on the 
fences, the windows, the doors, and some in the shape of 
Slavs onSt. \vreaths round the necks of the cows, in order that the 
witches may be powerless to harm man and beast, house and 
homestead, throughout the year. If, nevertheless, a witch 
should contrive to steal through the garden fence and into 
the byre, it is all over with the cows. A good housewife 
will also go round her house and cattle-stalls early in the 
morning of the fateful day and sprinkle them with holy 
water. Another approved means of driving the witches 
away is furnished by the froth which is shot from the spokes 
of a revolving mill-wheel ; for common- sense tells us that 
just as the froth flies from the wheel, so the witches will 
fly from our house, if only we apply the remedy in the right 
way. And the right way is this. On the eve of St. 
George's Day you must send a child to fetch froth from the 
mill, three stones from three cross-roads, three twigs of a 
blackberry bush, three sprigs of beech, and three shoots of a 
wild vine. Then you insert the plants in a buttered roll, 
put the stones in the fire, boil the froth, toast the buttered 
roll over the glowing stones, and speak these words : " The 
blackberry twigs gather together, the beeches pull together, 
but the foam from the wheel shakes all evil away." Do 
this, and you may take my word for it that no witch will be 
able to charm away the milk from your cows. 1 

Precau- Thus on the whole the festival of St. George at the 

same son C P resent day, like tne Parilia of ancient Italy, is a ceremony 
are taken intended to guard the cattle against their real and their 

against .... . . , 

wolves and imaginary foes, the wolves and the witches, at the critical 
witches season when the flocks and herds are driven out to pasture 


the cattle for the first time in spring. Precautions of the same sort 

are natura ^y taken by the superstitious herdsman whenever, 
pasture for the winter being over, he tuwis his herds out into the open 
tirn^irf * r ^ ^ rst time, whether it be on St. George's Day or not. 
spring. Thus in Prussia and Lithuania, when the momentous 

morning broke, the herd-boy ran from house to house in the 

1 F. S. Krauss, Volksglaube und 125-127; id. , Kroaticn und Slavonien 
Branch der Siiddaven, pp. (Vienna, 1889), pp. 105 sq, 


village, knocked at the windows, and cried : " Put out the 
fire, spin not, reel not, but drive the cattle out ! " Mean- 
time the herdsman had fetched sand from the church, which 
he strewed on the road by which the beasts must go from 
the farmyard. At the same time he laid a woodcutter's axe 
in every doorway, with the sharp edge outwards, over which 
the cows had to step. Then he walked in front of them, 
speaking never a word, and paying no heed to the herd, 
which was kept together by the herd-boys alone. His 
thoughts were occupied by higher things, for he was busy 
making crosses, blessing the cattle, and murmuring prayers, 
till the pastures were reached. The axe in the doorway 
signified that the wolf should flee from the herd as from the 
sharp edge of the axe : the sand from the church betokened 
that the cattle should not disperse and wander in the 
meadows, but should keep as close together as people in 
church. 1 

In Sweden the cattle are confined almost wholly to their Swedish 
stalls during the long and dreary northern winter ; and the nces V at 
first day in spring on which they are turned out into the turning 
forest to graze has been from time immemorial a great " tt i e \ Q 
popular festival. The time of its celebration depends g 7 - 6 after 

i ^L -u c , i their wintei 

more or less on the mildness or severity of the season. C0 nfine- 
For the most part it takes place about the middle of May. ment - 
On the preceding evening bonfires are kindled everywhere 
in the forest, because so far as their flickering light extends 
the cattle will be safe from the attacks of wild beasts 
throughout the summer. For the same reason people go 
about the woods that night firing guns, blowing horns, and 
making all kinds of discordant noises. The mode of 
celebrating the festival, which in some places is called the 
feast of flowers, varies somewhat in different provinces. In 
Dalsland the cattle are driven home that day from pasture 
at noon instead of at evening. Early in the morning the 
herd-boy repairs with the herd to the forest, where he decks 
their horns with wreaths of flowers and provides himself 
with a wand of the rowan or mountain-ash. During his 
absence the girls pluck flowers, weave them into a garland, 

1 W. J. A. Tettau und J. D. H. Litthauens und Wcstpreussem (Berlin, 
Temme, Die Volkssagtn Ostpreussens, 1837), p. 263. 


Swedish and hang it on the gate through which the cattle must pass 
observ- on their return from the forest. When they come back, the 
fuming out herd-boy takes the garland from the gate, fastens it to the 
the cattle t Q f j-^g wanc | an d marches with it at the head of his 

to pasture r 

for the first beasts to the hamlet. Afterwards the wand with the 
Imrner garland on it is set up on the muck-heap, where it remains 
all the summer. The intention of these ceremonies is not 
said, but on the analogy of the preceding customs we may 
conjecture that both the flowers and the rowan-wand are 
supposed to guard the cattle against witchcraft. A little 
later in the season, when the grass is well grown in the 
forest, most of the cattle are sent away to the sater, or 
summer pastures, of which every hamlet commonly has one 
or more. These are clearings in the woods, and may be 
many miles distant from the village. In Dalecarlia the 
departure usually takes place in the first week of June. It 
is a great event for the pastoral folk. An instinctive 
longing seems to awaken both in the people and the beasts. 
The preparations of the women are accompanied by the 
bleating of the sheep and goats and the lowing of the 
cattle, which make incessant efforts to break through the 
pens near the house where they are shut up. Two or more 
girls, according to the size of the herd, attend the cattle on 
their migration and stay with them all the summer. Every 
animal as it goes forth, whether cow, sheep, or goat, is 
marked on the brow with a cross by means of a tar-brush 
in order to protect it against evil spirits. But more 
dangerous foes lie in wait for the cattle in the distant 
pastures, where bears and wolves not uncommonly rush 
forth on them from the woods. On such occasions the 
herd-girls often display the utmost gallantry, belabouring 
the ferocious beasts with sticks, and risking their own lives 
in defence of the herds. 1 

These The foregoing customs, practised down to modern times 

parallels by shepherds and herdsmen with a full sense of their 
throw light meaning, throw light on some features of the Parilia which 

on some -11 mi 

features of might otherwise remain obscure. They seem to shew that 
the Parilia. w hen the Italian shepherd hung green boughs on his folds, 

1 L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden, pp. 246-251 ; A. Kuhn, Herabkunft 
dts Feuers,' pp. 163 sq. 


and garlands on his doors, he did so in order to keep the 
witches from the ewes ; and that in fumigating his flocks 
with sulphur and driving them over a fire of straw he 
sought to interpose a fiery barrier between them and the 
powers of evil, whether these were conceived as witches or 
mischievous spirits. 

But St. George is more than a patron of cattle. The Green 
mummer who dresses up in green boughs on the saint's day Georg< : a 
and goes by the name of Green George 1 clearly personifies fication of 

the saint himself, and such a disguise is appropriate only to 
a spirit of trees or of vegetation in general. As if to vegetation 
make this quite clear, the Slavs of Carinthia carry a tree m 
decked with flowers in the procession in which Green 
George figures ; and the ceremonies in which the leaf-clad 
masker takes a part plainly indicate that he is thought to 
stand in intimate connexion with rain as well as with 
cattle. This counterpart of our Jack in the Green is known 
in some parts of Russia, and the Slovenes call him Green 
George. Dressed in leaves and flowers, he appears in public 
on St. George's Day carrying a lighted torch in one hand 
and a pie in the other. Thus arrayed he goes out to the 
cornfields, followed by girls, who sing appropriate songs. 
A circle of brushwood is then lighted, and the pie is set 
in the middle of it. All who share in the ceremony 
sit down around the fire, and the pie is divided among 
them. The observance has perhaps a bearing on the cattle 
as well as on the cornfields, for in some parts of Russia 
when the herds go out to graze for the first time in spring a 
pie baked in the form of a sheep is cut up by the chief 
herdsman, and the bits are kept as a cure for the ills to 
which sheep are subject. 2 

At Schwaz, an old Tyrolese town in the lower valley Ringing 
of the Inn, young lads assemble on St. George's Day, out th ,f 
which is here the twenty-fourth of April, and having pro- on St. 
vided themselves with bells, both large and small, they go 
in procession ringing them to the various farms of the 
neighbourhood, where they are welcomed and given milk to 
drink. These processions, which take place in other parts 

1 See above, pp. 75 sq. 
2 W. R. S. Ralston, Russian Folk-tales, p. 345. 




of the Tyrol also, go by the name of " ringing out the grass " 
(Grasauslciuteri), and it is believed that wherever the bell- 
ringers come, there the grass grows and the crops will be 
abundant. This beneficial effect appears to be ascribed to 
the power of the bells to disperse the evil spirits, which are 
thought to be rampant on St. George's Day. For the 
same purpose of averting demoniac influence at this 
time, people in Salzburg and the neighbouring districts of 
Upper Austria go in procession round the fields and stick 
palm branches or small crosses in them ; also they fasten 
branches of the Prunus Padus, L., at the windows of the 
houses and cattle- stalls. 1 In some parts of Germany the 
farmer looks to the height of his corn on St. George's Day, 
expecting that it should then be high enough to hide a 
crow. 2 

St. George Even when we have said that St. George of Eastern 
Europe represents an old heathen deity of sheep, cattle, 
horses, wolves, vegetation, and rain, we have not exhausted 
all the provinces over which he is supposed to bear sway. 
According to an opinion which appears to be widely spread, 
he has the power of blessing barren women with offspring. 
This belief is clearly at the root of the South Slavonian 
custom, described above, whereby a childless woman hopes 
to become a mother by wearing a shirt which has hung all 
night on a fruitful tree on St. George's Eve. 3 Similarly, a 
Bulgarian wife who desires to have a child will strike off a 
serpent's head on St. George's Day, put a bean in its mouth, 
and lay the head in a hollow tree or bury it in the earth at 
a spot so far from the village that the crowing of the cocks 
cannot be heard there. If the bean buds, her wishes will 
be granted. 4 


to get 





1 Marie Andree-Eysn, Volkskund- 
liches aus dem bayrisch - bsterreichi- 
schen Alpengebiet (Brunswick, 1910), 
pp. 180-182. 

2 E. H. Meyer, Badisches Volks- 
leben im neunzehnten Jahrhundert 
(Strasburg, 1900), p. 423; K. Freiherr 
von Leoprechting, Aus dem Lechrain 
(Munich, 1855), p. 168. 

8 See above, pp. 56 sq. 
4 A. Strausz, Die Bulgaren, pp. 
337 385 sq. There seems to be a 

special connexion between St. George 
and serpents. In Bohemia and Moravia 
it is thought that up to the twenty- 
third of April serpents are innocuous, 
and only get their poison on the 
saint's day. See J. V. Grohmann, 
Aberglauben und Gebrduche aus 
Bbhnien und Mcihren, 326, 580, 
pp. 51, 8 1 ; W. Miiller, Beitrdge zur 
Volksknnde der Deittschen in Mdhren t 
p. 323. Various other charms are 
effected by means of serpents on this 


It is natural to suppose that a saint who can bestow Love- 
offspring can also bring fond lovers together. Hence c ^^ d 
among the Slavs, with whom St. George is so popular, his among 
day is one of the seasons at which youths and maidens orTst^ 
resort to charms and divination in order to win or discover George's 
the affections of the other sex. Thus, to take examples, a 
Bohemian way of gaining a girl's love is as follows. You 
catch a frog on St. George's Day, wrap it in a white cloth, 
and put it in an ant-hill after sunset or about midnight. 
The creature croaks terribly while the ants are gnawing the 
flesh from its bones. When silence reigns again, you will 
find nothing left of the frog but one little bone in the shape 
of a hook and another little bone in the shape of a shovel. 
Take the hook-shaped bone, go to the girl of yocr choice, 
and hook her dress with the bone, and she will fall over 
head and ears in love with you. If you afterwards tire of 
her, you have only to touch her with the shovel-shaped 
bone, and her affection will vanish as quickly as it came. 1 
Again, at Ceklinj, in Crnagora, maidens go at break of day 
on St. George's morning to a well to draw water, and look 
down into its dark depth till tears fill their eyes and they 
fancy they see in the water the image of their future 
husband. 2 At Krajina, in Servia, girls who would pry into 
the book of fate gather flowers in the meadows on the eve 
of St. George, make them up into nosegays, and give to the 
nosegays the names of the various lads whose hearts they 
would win. Late at night they place the flowers by stealth 
under the open sky, on the roof or elsewhere, and leave 
them there till daybreak. The lad on whose nosegay most 
dew has fallen will love the girl most truly throughout the 
year. Sometimes mischievous young men secretly watch 
these doings, and steal the bunches of flowers,* which makes 
sore hearts among the girls. 8 Once more, in wooded 
districts of Bohemia a Czech maiden will sometimes go out 
on St. George's Eve into an oak or beech forest and catch a 

day. Thus if you tear out the tongue pp. 81, 166. 

of a live snake on St. George's Day, l J. V. Grohmann, op. cit. 1463, 

put it in a ball of wax, and lay the p. 210. 

ball under your tongue, you will be 2 F. S. Krauss, Sitte und Rrauch 

able to talk down anybody. See J. der Siidslaven, p. 175. 

V. Grohmann, op. cit., 576, 1169, 3 F. S. Krauss, op. cit. pp. 175 sq. 


young wild pigeon. It may be a ring-dove or a wood- 
pigeon, but it must always be a male. She takes the bird 
home with her, and covers it with a sieve or shuts it up in 
a box that nobody may know what she is about. Having 
kept and fed it till it can fly, she rises very early in the 
morning, while the household is still asleep, and goes with 
the dove to the hearth. Here she presses the bird thrice to 
her bare breast, above her heart, and then lets it fly away 
up the chimney, while she says : 

" Out of tJte chimney \ dove, 

Fly, fly from here. 
Take me, dear Hans, my love, 

None, none so dear. 

" Fly to your rocks, fair dove, 

Fly to your lea. 
So may I get, my love, 

None, none but thee" l 

St. George In the East, also, St. George is reputed to be a giver 

in Syria o f offspring to barren women, and in this character he is 

a giver of revered by Moslems as well as Christians. His shrines may 

)ffs P""s be found in all parts of Syria ; more places are associated 

less with him than with any other saint in the calendar. The 

women. mos t famous of his sanctuaries is at Kalat el Hosn, in 

Northern Syria. Childless women of all sects resort to it 

in order that the saint may remove their reproach. Some 

people shrug their shoulders when the shrine is mentioned 

in this connexion. Yet many Mohammedan women who 

desired offspring 'used to repair to it with the full consent 

of their husbands. Nowadays the true character of the 

place is beginning to be perceived, and many Moslems have 

The Syrian forbidden their wives to visit it. 2 Such beliefs and practices 

St. George lend some colour to the theory that in the East the saint has 

represent taken the place of Tammuz or Adonis. 3 


1 Reinsberg-Duringsfeld.^.rf-A'a/tfw- nominal translator, but real author, of 
der aus Biihmen, pp. 194 sq. ; J. V. the work called The Agriculture of the 
Grohmann, op. cit., 554, p. 77. Nabataeans. See D. A. Chwolson, 

2 S. J. Curtiss, Primitive Semitic Uber Tammuz und die Menschenvereh- 
Religion To-day, pp. 83 sq., 118 sq. rung bei den alten Babyloniern (St. 

3 S. Baring- Gould, Curious Myths Petersburg, 1860), pp. 56 sq. Although 
of the Middle Ages, pp. 278 sqq. The The Agriculture of the Nabataeans 
authority for this identification is the appears to be a forgery (see above, p. 


But we cannot suppose that the worship of Tammuz has in Europe 
been transplanted to Europe and struck its roots deep among se ^ ms e o S ' 
the Slavs and other peoples in the eastern part of our con- have dis- 
tinent. Rather amongst them we must look for a native oidAryan 
Aryan deity who now masquerades in the costume of thegdofthe 
Cappadocian saint and martyr St. George. Perhaps we may suc h a ' s 
find him in the Pergrubius of the Lithuanians, a people who the Litnua - 

,. . , nian Per- 

retamed their heathen religion later than any other branch grubius. 
of the Aryan stock in Europe. This Pergrubius is described 
as " the god of the spring," as " he who makes leaves and 
grass to grow," or more fully as " the god of flowers, plants, 
and all buds." On St. George's Day, the twenty-third of 
April, the heathen Prussians and Lithuanians offered a sacri- 
fice to Pergrubius. A priest, who bore the title of Wurschait, 
held in his hand a mug of beer, while he thus addressed the 
deity : " Thou drivest away the winter ; thou bringest back 
the pleasant spring. By thee the fields and gardens are 
green, by thee the groves and the' woods put forth leaves." 
According to another version, the prayer ran as follows : 
" Thou drivest the winter away, and givest in all lands 
leaves and grass. We pray thee that thou wouldst make 
our corn to grow and wouldst put down all weeds." After 
praying thus, the priest drank the beer, holding the mug 
with his teeth, but not touching it with his hands. Then 
without handling it he threw the mug backward over his 
head. Afterwards it was picked up and filled again, and 
all present drank out of it. They also sang a hymn in 
praise of Pergrubius, and then spent the whole day in feast- 
ing and dancing. 1 Thus it appears that Pergrubius was a 
Lithuanian god of the spring, who caused the grass and the 

100, note 2), the identification of the W. Mannhardt, in Magazin heraus- 

oriental St. George with Tammuz may gegeben von der Lettisch-literarischen 

nevertheless be correct. Gesellschaft, xiv. (1868) pp. 95 sq. 

The first form of the prayer to Per- 

1 J. Maeletius (Menecius), " De grubius is from the Latin, the second 

sacrificiis et idolatria veterum Borus- from the German, version of Maeletius's 

sorum Livonum aliarumque vicinarum (Jan Malecki's) work. The descrip- 

gentium," Mitteilungen der Litterari- tion of Pergrubius as "he who makes 

schen Gescllscha/t Masovia, Heft 8 leaves and grass to grow" ("der lest 

(Ixitzen, 1902), pp. 185, 187, 200 sq. ; icachssen laub unnd gras") is also from 

id. in Scriptores remm Livonicarum, the German. According to M. Prae- 

ii. (Riga and Leipsic, 1848), pp. 389, torius. Pergrubius was a god of hus- 

390 ; J. Lasicius, " De diis Samagita- bandry (Deliciae Pntssicae, Berlin, 

rum caeterorumque Sarmatarum," ed. 1871, p. 25). 


corn to grow and the trees to burst into leaf. In this he 
resembles Green George, the embodiment of the fresh 
vegetation of spring, whose leaf -clad representative still 
plays his pranks on the very same day in some parts of 
Eastern Europe. Nothing, indeed, is said of the relation of 
Pergrubius to cattle, and so far the analogy between him 
and St. George breaks down. But our accounts of the old 
Lithuanian mythology are few and scanty ; if we knew more 
about Pergrubius we might find that as a god or personifica- 
tion of spring he, like St. George, was believed to exert all 
the quickening powers of that genial season in other 
words, that his beneficent activity was not confined to cloth- 
ing the bare earth with verdure, but extended to the care 
of the teeming flocks and herds, as well as to the propaga- 
tion of mankind. Certainly it is not easy to draw a sharp 
line of division between the god who attends to cattle and 
the god who provides the food on which they subsist. 
The Thus Pergrubius may perhaps have been the northern 

equivalent equivalent of the pastoral god Pales, who was worshipped by 
of St. the Romans only two days earlier at the spring festival of the 
Parilia. It will be remembered that the Roman shepherds 

who may prayed to Pales for grass and leaves, the very things which 

have been \ J , . _ & , . _ J . 

personated it was the part of Pergrubius to supply. Is it too bold to 
by the conjecture that in rural districts of Italy Pales may have 

king at the J J J 

Parilia. been personated by a leaf-clad man, and that in the early 
age of Rome the duty of thus representing the god may 
have been one of the sacred functions of the king ? The 
conjecture at least suggests a reason for the tradition that 
Numa, the typical priestly king of Rome, was born on the 
day of the Parilia. 


I . The Diffusion of the Oak in Europe 

IN a preceding chapter some reasons were given for The Latin 
thinking that the early Latin kings posed as living repre- ^ n ^ 
sentatives of Jupiter, the god of the oak, the sky, the rain, sented 
and the thunder, and that in this capacity they attempted ^g god of 
to exercise the fertilising functions which were ascribed to the oak, 
the god. The probability of this view will be strengthened th g s 
if it can be proved that the same god was worshipped under thunder, 

r i A i and the 

other names by other branches ot the Aryan stock in ra i n . 
Europe, and that the Latin kings were not alone in arro- 
gating to themselves his powers and attributes. In this 
chapter I propose briefly to put together a few of the 
principal facts which point to this conclusion. 

But at the outset a difficulty presents itself. To us the Why 
oak, the sky, the rain, and the thunder appear things totally sh { [^ 
distinct from each other. How did our forefathers come to oak be also 
group them together and imagine them as attributes of one ^ fy ol 
and the same god ? A connexion may be seen between the 
the sky, the rain, and the thunder ; but what has any a^he 
of them to do with the oak? Yet one of these apparently rain ? 
disparate elements was probably the original nucleus round 
which in time the others gathered and crystallised into the 
composite conception of Jupiter. Accordingly we must ask, 
Which of them was the original centre of attraction ? If 
men started with the idea of an oak-god, how came they to 
enlarge his kingdom by annexing to it the province of the 
sky, the rain, and the thunder ? If, on the other hand, they 




set out with the notion of a god of the sky, the rain, and 
the thunder, or any one of them, why should they have 
added the oak to his attributes ? The oak is terrestrial ; 
the sky, the thunder, and the rain are celestial or aerial. 
What is the bridge between the two ? 

in the In the sequel I shall endeavour to shew that on the 

C haracter e P rmc ipl e f primitive thought the evolution of a sky -god 
of Jupiter from an oak-god is more easily conceivable than the con- 
p^obabiy 5 verse > anc * if I succeed, it becomes probable that in the 
primary, composite character of Jupiter the oak is primary and 
the rain, original, the sky, the rain, and the thunder secondary and 
and the derivative. 

secondary We have seen that long before the dawn of history 
and Europe was covered with vast primaeval woods, which must 

derivative. . . 

Euro have exercised a profound influence on the thought as well 

covered as on the life of our rude ancestors who dwelt dispersed under 

iifforests th e gl m y shadow or in the open glades and clearings of 

in pre- the forest. 1 Now, of all the trees which composed these 

times" woods the oak appears to have been both the commonest 

and the most useful. The proof of this is drawn partly 

from the statements of classical writers, partly from the 

remains of ancient villages built on piles in lakes and 

marshes, and partly from the oak forests which have been 

found embedded in peat-bogs. 

Remains These bogs, which attain their greatest development in 

forests Northern Europe, but are met with also in the central and 
found in southern parts of the Continent, have preserved as in a 
museum the trees and plants which sprang up and flourished 
after the end of the glacial epoch. Thus in Scotland the 
peat, which occupies wide areas both in the highlands and 
lowlands, almost everywhere covers the remains of forests, 
among which the commoner trees are pine, oak, and birch. 
The oaks are of great size, and are found at heights above 
the sea such as the tree would not now naturally attain to. 
Equally remarkable for their size are the pines, but though 
they also had a wider distribution than at present, they 
appear not to have formed any extensive forests at the 
lowest levels of the country. Still, remains of them have 
been dug up in many lowland peat-mosses, where the bulk 

J See above, pp. 7 sf. 


of the buried timber is oak. 1 When Hatfield Moss in 
Yorkshire was drained, there were found in it trunks of oak 
a hundred feet long and as black as ebony. One giant 
actually measured a hundred and twenty feet in length, with 
a diameter of twelve feet at the root and six feet at the top. 
No such tree now exists in Europe. 2 Sunken forests and 
peat occur at many places on the coasts of England, especi- 
ally on low shelving shores where the land falls away with 
a gentle slope to the sea. These submerged areas were 
once mud flats which, as the sea retreated from them, 
gradually became clothed with dense forests, chiefly of oak 
and Scotch fir, though ash, yew, alder, and other trees sooner 
or later mingled with them. 3 The great peat-bogs of 
Ireland shew that there was a time when vast woods of oak 
and yew covered the country, the oak growing on the hills 
up to a height of four hundred feet or thereabout above the 
sea, while at higher levels deal was the prevailing timber. 
Human relics have often been discovered in these Irish bogs, 
and ancient roadways made of oak have also come to light. 4 
In the peat-bog near Abbeville, in the valley of the Somme, 
trunks of oak have been dug up fourteen feet thick, a diameter 
rarely met with outside the tropics in the old Continent. 5 

At present the woods of Denmark consist for the most 
part of magnificent beeches, which flourish here as luxuriantly 
as anywhere in the world. Oaks are much rarer and appear Former 
to be on the decline. Yet the evidence of the peat-bogs fDen- 
proves that before the advent of the beech the country was mark and 
overspread with dense forests of tall and stately oaks. It 
was during the ascendency of the oak in the woods that 
bronze seems to have become known in Denmark ; for 
swords and shields of that metal, now in the museum of 
Copenhagen, have been taken out of peat in which oaks 
abound. Yet at a still earlier period the oak had been pre- 
ceded by the pine or Scotch fir in the Danish forests ; and 

1 j. Geikie, Prehistoric Europe 3 J. Geikie, op. tit. pp. 432-436. 
(Edinburgh, 1881), pp. 4 2O sy. t 482 4 ; ^.^ ^ ^ pp ^ ^ 

2 R. Munro, Ancient Scottish Lake 6 A. von Humboldt, Kosmos, i. 
Dwellings or Crannogs (Edinburgh, (Stuttgart and Tubingen, 1845) p. 
1882), p. 266, quoting Alton's Treatise 298. The passage is mistranslated 
on the Origin, Qualities, and Cultiva- in the English version edited by E. 
tion of Moss Earth. Sabine. 



the discovery of neolithic implements in the peat-bogs shews 
that savages of the Stone Age had their homes in these old 
pine woods as well as in the later forests of oak. Some 
antiquaries are of opinion that the Iron Age in Denmark 
began with the coming of the beech, but of this there is no 
evidence ; for aught we know to the contrary the beautiful 
beech forests may date back to the Age of Bronze. 1 The 
peat-bogs of Norway abound in buried timber ; and in 
many of them the trees occur in two distinct layers. The 
lower of these layers consists chiefly of oak, hazel, ash, and 
other deciduous trees ; the upper is composed of Scotch firs 
and birches. In the bogs of Sweden also the oak forests 
underlie the pine forests. 2 However, it appears to be doubtful 
whether Scandinavia was inhabited in the age of the oak 
woods. Neolithic tools have indeed been found in the peat, 
but generally not deeper down than two feet or so ; hence 
one antiquary infers that in these bogs not more than two 
feet of peat has formed within historical times. 3 But 
negative evidence on such a point goes for little, as only 
a small portion of the bogs can have been explored. 
The Unequivocal proof of the prevalence of the oak and its 

fake 611 usefulness to man in early times is furnished by the remains 
dwellings o f the pii e villages which have been discovered in many of 
were built the lakes of Europe. In the British Islands the piles and 
to a great ^he platforms on which these crannogs or lake dwellings 

extent on 

rested appear to have been generally of oak, though fir, 
birch, and other trees were sometimes used in their con- 
struction. Speaking of the Irish and Scotch crannogs a 
learned antiquary remarks : " Every variety of structure 
observed in the one country is to be found in the other, 
from the purely artificial island, framed of oak-beams, 
mortised together, to the natural island, artificially fortified 
or enlarged by girdles of oak-piles or ramparts of loose 
stones." 4 Canoes hollowed out of trunks of oak have been 
found both in the Scotch and in the Irish crannogs. 5 In 

1 Sir Charles Lyell, The Geological 2 J. Geikie, op. cit. pp. 487 sq. 

Evidence of the Antiquity of Man* 3 J. Geikie, op. cit. p. 489. 

(London, 1873), pp. 8, 17, 415 sq.; * R. Munro, Ancient Scottish Lake 

Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury), Dwellings, p. 20, quoting the article 

Prehistoric Times 5 (London, 1890), "Crannoges" in Chambers'* Encyclo- 

pp. 251, 387 ; J. Geikie, op. cit. pp. pcedia. 

485-487. 5 R. Munro, op. cit. p. 23. For 



the lake dwellings of Switzerland and Central Europe the 
piles are very often of oak, but by no means as uniformly 
so as in the British Islands ; fir, birch, alder, ash, elm, and 
other timber were also employed for the purpose. 1 That 
the inhabitants of these villages subsisted partly on the pro- 
duce of the oak, even after they had adopted agriculture, is 
proved by the acorns which have been found in their 
dwellings along with wheat, barley, and millet, as well as 
beech-nuts, hazel-nuts, and the remains of chestnuts and 
cherries. 2 In the valley of the Po the framework of logs The 
and planks which supports the prehistoric villages is most 
commonly of elm wood, but evergreen oak and chestnut were dwellings 
also used ; and the abundance of oaks is attested by the panifon 
great quantities of acorns which were dug up in these settle- acorns, 
ments. As the acorns were sometimes found stored in 
earthenware vessels, it appears that they were eaten by the 
people as well as by their pigs. 3 

The evidence of classical writers proves that great oak Evidence 
forests still existed down to their time in various parts of ofclassical 

writers as 

Europe. Thus the Veneti on the Atlantic coast of Brittany to the oak 
made their flat-bottomed boats out of oak timber, of which, ^ ts of 
we are told, there was abundance in their country. 4 Pliny The oak 
informs us that, while the whole of Germany was covered woods of 
with cool and shady woods, the loftiest trees were to be seen 
not far from the country of the Chauci, who inhabited the 
coast of the North Sea. Among these giants of the forest 
he speaks especially of the oaks which grew on the banks 
of two lakes. When the waves had undermined their roots, 
the oaks are said to have torn away great portions of the 
bank and floated like islands on the lakes. 5 The same 

more evidence of the use of oak in 375, 382, 434, 438, 440, 444, 446, 

British crannogs, see id., op. cit. pp. 465, 639. 

6-8, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 sq., * F. Keller, op. cit. i. 332, 334, 

37, 38, 39, 4i, 42, 51 tf-, 53, 61, 62, 375, 586. 

97, 122, 208, 262, 291-299; id. The 3 W. Helbig, Die Italiker in der 

Lake Dwellings of Europe (London, Poebene (Leipsic, 1879), pp. 12, 16 sq. 

Paris, and Melbourne, 1890), pp. 350, 26. The bones of cattle, pigs, goats, 

364. 372, 377. and sheep prove that these animals 

1 F. Keller, The Lake Dwellings of were bred by the people of the Italian 

Switzerland and other Parts of Europe* pile villages. See W. Helbig, op. cit. 

(London, 1878), i. 37, 48, 65, 87, p. 14. 

93, 105, 1 10, 129, 156, 186, 194, 4 Strabo, v. 4. i, p. 195. 

20 1, 214, 264, 268, 289, 300, 320, 5 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 5. 

VOL. II 2 A 




The oak 
woods of 
Italy and 

writer speaks of the vast Hercynian wood of Germany as an 
oak forest, old as the world, untouched for ages, and passing 
wonderful in its immortality. So huge were the trees, he 
says, that when their roots met they were forced up above 
ground in the shape of arches, through which a troop of 
horse could ride as through an open gate. 1 His testimony 
as to the kind of trees which composed this famous forest 
is confirmed by its name, which seems to mean no more 
than " oak wood." 2 In the second century before our era 
oak forests were still so common in the valley of the Po that 
the herds of swine which browsed on the acorns sufficed to 
supply the greater part of the demand for pork throughout 
Italy, although nowhere in the world, according to Polybius, 
were more pigs butchered to feed the gods, the people, and 
the army. 3 Elsewhere the same historian describes the 
immense herds of swine which roamed the Italian oak 
forests, especially on the coasts of Tuscany and Lombardy. 
In order to sort out the different droves when they mingled 
with each other in the woods, each swineherd carried a horn, 
and when he wound a blast on it all his own pigs came 
trooping to him with such vehemence that nothing could 
stop them ; for all the herds knew the note of their own 
horn. In the oak forests of Greece this device was unknown, 
and the swineherds there had harder work to come by their 
own when the beasts had strayed far in the woods, as they 
were apt to do in autumn while the acorns were falling. 4 
Down to the beginning of our era oak woods were inter- 
spersed among the olive groves and vineyards of the Sabine 
country in central Italy. 5 Among the beautiful woods 
which clothed the Heraean mountains in Sicily the oaks 
were particularly remarked for their stately growth and the 
great size of their acorns. 6 In the second century after 

1 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 6 " Her- 
fjvtiae silvae roborum vastitas . . . 
glandiferi maxime generis omnes, quibus 
honos apud Romanes perpetuus." 

2 H. Hirt, "Die Urheimat der 
Indogermanen," Indogermanische For- 
schungen, \. (1892), p. 480; P. Kret- 
schmer, Einleitung in die Geschichte der 
griechische Sprache (Gottingen, 1896), 
p. 8 1 ; O. Schrader, Reallexikon der 
Inaogermanischen Altertiimshtnde, s.v. 

"Eiche," p. 164. This etymology 
assumes that Hercynia represents an 
original Perkunia^ and is connected 
with the Latin quercus. However, the 
derivation is not undisputed. See O. 
Schrader, op. cit. pp. 1015 sq. 

3 Polybius, ii. 1 5. Compare Strabo, 
V. I. 12, p. 2l8. 

4 Polybius, xii. 4. 

5 Strabo, v. 3. i, p. 228. 

6 Diodorus Siculus, iv. 84. 


Christ the oak forests of Arcadia still harboured wild boars, 
bears, and huge tortoises in their dark recesses. 1 

Even now the predominance of the oak as the principal The oak 
forest tree of Europe has hardly passed away. Thus we chjif-forest 
are told that among the leaf-bearing trees of Greece, as tree of 
opposed to the conifers, the oak still plays by far the most El 
important part in regard both to the number of the indi- 
viduals and the number of the species. 2 And the British 
oak in particular (Quercus robur) is yet the prevailing tree 
in most of the woods of France, Germany, and southern 
Russia, while in England the coppice and the few fragments 
of natural forest still left are mainly composed of this 
species. 3 

Thus the old classical tradition that men lived upon in Europe 
acorns before they learned to till the ground 4 may very well have'been 
be founded on fact Indeed acorns were still an article of used as 
diet in some parts of southern Europe within historical fo^both 
times. Speaking of the prosperity of the righteous, Hesiod in ancient 
declares that for them the earth bears much substance, modem 
and the oak on the mountains puts forth acorns. 6 The time s- 
Arcadians in their oak-forests were proverbial for eating 
acorns, 6 but not the acorns of all oaks, only those of a par- 
ticular sort. 7 Pliny tells us that in his day acorns still 
constituted the wealth of many nations, and that in time of 
dearth they were ground and baked into bread. 8 According 
to Strabo, the mountaineers of Spain subsisted on acorn 
bread for two-thirds of the year ; 9 and in that country 
acorns were served up as a second course even at the meals 
of the well-to-do. 10 In the same regions the same practice 

1 Pausanias, viii. 23. 8 sq. For ii. i. ^T sq., ii. 3. 69; Ovid, Metam. 
notices of forests and groves of oak in i. 106 ; id., Fasti, i. 675 sq., iv. 399- 
Arcadia and other parts of Greece, see 402 ; Juvenal, xiv. 182-184; Aulus 
id. ii. II. 4, iii. 10. 6, vii. 26. 10, Gellius, v. 6. 12; Dionysius Hali- 
viii. II. i, viii. 25. I, viii. 42. 12, carnas. Ars rhetorica, i. 6, vol. v. 
viii. 54. 5, ix. 3. 4, ix. 24. 5. The p. 230, ed. Reiske ; Pollux, i. 234 ; 
oaks in the Arcadian forests were of Poryphry, De abstinentia, ii. 5. 
various species (id. viii. 12. I). 6 Hesiod, Works and Days, 232 sq. 

2 C. Neumann und J. Partsch, Phy- 8 Herodotus, i. 66. 

sikalische Geographic von Griechenland 7 Pausanias, viii. I, 6. According 

(Breslau, 1885), p. 378. to Pausanias it was only the acorns of 

3 Encyclopedia Britannica? xvii. the/A^ojoak which the Arcadians ate. 
690. 8 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 15. 

4 Virgil, Georg., i. 7 sq., i47-*49 ; 9 Strabo, iii. 3. 7, p. 155. 
Lucretius, v. 939 sq., 965; Tibullus, I0 Pliny, I.e. 


Acorns as has survived to modern times. The commonest and finest 
food m Qa k O f mo d ern Greece is the Quercus Aegilops, with a 


Europe, beautiful crown of leaves, and the peasants eat its acorns 
both roasted and raw. 1 The sweeter acorns of the Quercus 
Ballota also serve them as food, especially in Arcadia. 2 In 
Spain people eat the acorns of the evergreen oak {Quercus 
Ilex}, which are known as bellotas, and are said to be much 
larger and more succulent than the produce of the British oak. 
The duchess in Don Quixote writes to Sancho's wife to send 
her some of them. But oaks are now few and far between 
in La Mancha. 3 Even in England and France acorns have 
been boiled and eaten by the poor as a substitute for bread 
in time of dearth. 4 And naturally the use of acorns as food 
for swine has also lasted into modern times. It is on acorns 
that those hogs are fattened in Estremadura which make the 
famous Montanches hams. 5 Large herds of swine in all the 
great oak woods of Germany depend on acorns for their 
autumn subsistence ; and in the remaining royal forests of 
England the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages still 
claim their ancient right of pannage, turning their hogs into 
the woods in October and November. 6 

2. The Aryan God of the Oak and the Thunder" 1 

Thus we may conclude that the primitive Aryans of 
Europe lived among oak woods, used oak sticks for the 
lighting of their fires, and oak timber for the construction of 

1 C. Neumann und J. Partsch, Phy- 6 Encyclopedia Britannica, I.e. 
sikalische Geographic von Griechenland, 7 To avoid misapprehension, I desire 
p. 379- to point out that I am not here con- 

2 C. Neumann and J. Partsch, op. cerned with the evolution of Aryan 
eit. t p. 382, note. religion in general, but only with that 

3 Cervantes, Don Quixote, part ii. of a small, though important part of it, 
ch. 50, vol. iv. p. 133 of H. E. to wit, the worship of a particular 
Watts's translation, with the trans- kind of tree. To write a general 
lator's note (new edition, London, history of Aryan religion in all its 
1895) ; Neumann und Partsch, op. cit. many aspects as a worship of nature, 
p. 380 ; P. Wagler, Die Eiche in alter of the dead, and so forth, would be a 
und neuer Zeit,\. (Wurzen, 1891) p. 35. task equally beyond my powers and 
The passage in Don Quixote was my ambition. Still less should I 
pointed out to me by my friend Mr. W. dream of writing a universal history of 
Wyse. religion. The " general work " referred 

4 Encyclopedia Britannica? xvii. to in the preface to the first edition of 
692. The Golden Bough is a book of far 

6 H. E. Watts, lot. cit. humbler scope. 


their villages, their roads, their canoes, fed their swine on The many 
acorns, and themselves subsisted in part on the same simple j^ved 
diet. No wonder, then, if the tree from which they received by the 
so many benefits should play an important part in their 

religion, and should be invested with a sacred character. from the 
We have seen that the worship of trees has been world-wide, naturally 
and that, beginning with a simple reverence and dread of ledthem 

to worship 

the tree as itself animated by a powerful spirit, it has the tree. 
gradually grown into a cult of tree gods and tree goddesses, The wor- 
who with the advance of thought become more and more ^ "^ e 
detached from their old home in the trees, and assume the gradually 
character of sylvan deities and powers of fertility in general, f^orship 
to whom the husbandman looks not merely for the prosperity of the gd 
of his crops, but for the fecundity of his cattle and his women, but no 
Where this evolution has taken place it has necessarily been shar .P line 

T>I i i* _ of dis- 

slow and long. 1 hough it is convenient to distinguish in tinction 
theory between the worship of trees and the worship of gods ^ an ** 
of the trees, it is impossible to draw a hard and fast line between 
between them in practice, and to say, " Here the one begins the two- 
and the other ends." Such distinctions, however useful they 
may be as heads of classification to the student, evade in 
general the duller wit of the tree worshipper. We cannot 
therefore hope to lay our finger on that precise point in the 
history of the Aryans when they ceased to worship the oak 
for its own sake, and began to worship a god of the oak. 
That point, if it were ideally possible to mark it, had doubt- 
less been left far behind them by the more intelligent, at 
least, of our forefathers before they emerged into the light of 
history. We must be content for the most part to find 
among them gods of whom the oak was an attribute or 
sacred adjunct rather than the essence. If we wish to find 
the original worship of the tree itself we must go for it to 
the ignorant peasantry of to-day, not to the enlightened 
writers of antiquity. Further, it is to be borne in mind 
that while all oaks were probably the object of superstitious 
awe, so that -the felling of any of them for timber or firewood 
would be attended with ceremonies designed to appease the 
injured spirit of the tree, 1 only certain particular groves or 
individual oaks would in general receive that measure of 

1 For examples of such ceremonies, see above, pp. 18-20, 34-38. 




The wor- 
ship of the 
oak tree 
or of the 
oak god 
seems to 
have been 
to all the 
Aryans of 

of the oak 
in Greece ; 
its asso- 
with Zeus. 

homage which we should term worship. The reasons which 
led men to venerate some trees more than others might be 
various. Amongst them the venerable age and imposing 
size of a giant oak would naturally count for much. And 
any other striking peculiarity which marked a tree off from 
its fellows would be apt to attract the attention, and to con- 
centrate on itself the vague superstitious awe of the savage. 
We know, for example, that with the Druids the growth of 
mistletoe on an oak was a sign that the tree was especially 
sacred ; and the rarity of this feature for mistletoe does not 
commonly grow on oaks would enhance the sanctity and 
mystery of the tree. For it is the strange, the wonderful, 
the rare, not the familiar and commonplace, which excites 
the religious emotions of mankind. 

The worship of the oak tree or of the oak god appears 
to have been shared by all the branches of the Aryan stock 
in Europe. Both Greeks and Italians associated the tree 
with their highest god, Zeus or Jupiter, the divinity of the 
sky, the rain, and the thunder. 1 Perhaps the oldest and 
certainly one of the most famous sanctuaries in Greece was 
that of Dodona, where Zeus was revered in the oracular 
oak. 2 The thunder-storms which are said to rage at 
Dodona more frequently than anywhere else in Europe, 8 
would render the spot a fitting home for the god whose 
voice was heard alike in the rustling of the oak leaves and 
in the crash of thunder. Perhaps the bronze gongs which 
kept up a humming in the wind round the sanctuary 4 were 

1 For evidence of these aspects of 
Zeus and Jupiter, see L. Preller, Grie- 
chische Mythologie, i. * 115 sqq. ; id. , 
Romische Mythologie,* i. 184 sqq. In 
former editions of this book I was dis- 
posed to set aside much too summarily 
what may be called the meteorological 
side of Zeus and Jupiter. 

2 See my note on Pausanias, ii. 17. 
5 ; P. Wagler, Die Eiche in alter und 
neuer Zeit, ii. (Berlin, 1891), pp. 2 sqq. ; 
A. B. Cook, " Zeus, Jupiter, and the 
Oak," Classical Review, xvii. (1903) 
pp. 178 sqq. 

3 Aug. Mommsen, Delphika (Leipsic, 
1878)^ pp. 4 sq. 

* Strabo, Frag. vii. 3 ; Stephanus 
Byzantius, s.v. AuSuvrj ; Suidas, s.w. 

AuSwvcuov xa\Keiov and 
Apostolius, Cent. vi. 43 ; Zenobius, 
Cent. vL 5 5 Nonnus Abbas, Ad S. 
Gregorii oral. ii. contra Julianum, 19 
(Migne's Patrologia Graeca, xxxvi. 
1045). The evidence on this subject 
has been collected and discussed by 
Mr. A. B. Cook ("The Gong at 
Dodona," Journal of Hellenic Studies, 
xxii. (1902) pp. 5-28). The theory 
in the text is obviously consistent, both 
with the statement that the sound of 
the gongs was consulted as oracular, 
and with the view, advocated by Mr. 
Cook, that it was supposed to avert 
evil influences from the sanctuary. If 
I am right, the bronze statuette which, 
according to some accounts, produced 


meant to mimick the thunder that might so often be heard 
rolling and rumbling in the coombs of the stern and barren 
mountains which shut in the gloomy valley. 1 In Boeotia, 
as we have seen, the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera, the 
oak god and the oak goddess, was celebrated with much 
pomp by a religious federation of states. 2 And on Mount 
Lycaeus in Arcadia the character of Zeus as god both of 
the oak and of the rain comes out clearly in the rain charm 
practised by the priest of Zeus, who dipped an oak branch 
in a sacred spring. 3 

In his latter capacity Zeus was the god to whom the Zeus as the 
Greeks regularly prayed for rain. Nothing could be more 
natural ; for often, though not always, he had his seat on 
the mountains where the clouds gather and the oaks grow. 
On the acropolis at Athens there was an image of Earth 
praying to Zeus for rain. 4 And in time of drought the 
Athenians themselves prayed, " Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, on 
the cornland of the Athenians and on the plains." 5 The 
mountains which lay round their city, and to which they 
looked through the clear Attic air for signs of the weather, 
were associated by them with the worship of the weather- 
god Zeus. It was a sign of rain when, away to sea, a cloud 
rested on the sharp peak of Aegina, which cuts the sky-line 
like a blue horn. 6 On this far-seen peak Panhellenian Zeus 
was worshipped, 7 and legend ran that once, when all Greece 
was parched with drought, envoys assembled in Aegina from 
every quarter and entreated Aeacus, the king of the island, 
that he would intercede with his father Zeus for rain. The 
king complied with the request, and by sacrifices and prayers 
wrung the needed showers from his sire the sky -god. 8 

the sound by striking the gong with a A. B. Cook in his articles "Zeus, 

clapper would represent Zeus himself Jupiter, and the Oak," Classical Re- 

making his thunder. view, xvii. (1903) pp. 174 sqq., 268 

1 On the natural surroundings of sqq., 403 sqq., xviii. (1904) pp. 75 
Dodona, see C. Carapanos, Dodone et sqq., 327 sq. 

ses ruines (Paris, 1878), pp. 7-10. 4 Pausanias, i. 24. 3. 

2 Above, pp. 140 sq. 6 Marcus Antoninus, v. 7. 

3 Above, vol. i. p. 309. On the oak 6 Theophrastus, De signis ttmpcsta- 
as the tree of' Zeus, see Dionysius turn, i. 24. 

Halicarn. Ars rhetorica, i. 6, vol. v. 7 Pausanias, i. 30. 4. 

p. 230 ed. Reiske ; Schol. on Aristo- 8 Pausanias, ii. 29. 7 sq. ; Isocrates, 

phanes, Birds, 480. On this subject Evagoras, 14; Apollodorus, iii. 12. 6. 

much evidence, both literary and monu- Aeacus was said to be the son of Zeus 

mental, has been collected by Mr. by Aegina, daughter of Asopus (Apol- 


Zeus as the Again, it was a sign of rain at Athens when clouds in 
r * ln ' god of summer lay on the top or the sides of Hymettus, 1 the chain 
of barren mountains which bounds the Attic plain on the east, 
facing the westering sun and catching from his last beams 
a solemn glow of purple light. If during a storm a long 
bank of clouds was seen lowering on the mountain, it meant 
that the storm would increase in fury. 2 Hence an altar 
of Showery Zeus stood on Hymettus. 3 Again, omens of 
weather were drawn when lightning flashed or clouds hung 
on the top of Mount Parnes to the north of Athens ; 4 and 
there accordingly an altar was set up to sign-giving Zeus. 
The climate of eastern Argolis is dry, and the rugged 
mountains are little better than a stony waterless wilderness. 
On one of them, named Mount Arachnaeus, or the Spider 
Mountain, stood altars of Zeus and Hera, and when rain 
was wanted the people sacrificed there to the god and 
goddess. 6 On the ridge of Mount Tmolus, near Sardes, 
there was a spot called the Birthplace of Rainy Zeus, 7 prob- 
ably because clouds resting on it were observed to presage 
rain. The members of a religious society in the island of 
Cos used to go in procession and offer sacrifices on an altar 
of Rainy Zeus, when the thirsty land stood in need of re- 
Zeus as the freshing showers. 8 Thus conceived as the source of fertility, 
fertility. ^ was not unnatural that Zeus should receive the title of 
the Fruitful One, 9 and that at Athens he should be wor- 
shipped under the surname of the Husbandman. 10 

Again, Zeus wielded the thunder and lightning as well 

lodorus, I.e.). Isocrates says that his 8 Paton and Hicks, The Inscriptions 

relationship to the god marked Aeacus of Cos (Oxford, 1891), No. 382; 

out as the man to procure rain. Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum 

1 Theophrastus, De signis tempesta- Graecaruin* No. 735. There were 
turn, i. 20, compare 24. altars of Rainy Zeus also at Argos and 

2 Theophrastus, op. cit. iii. 43. Lebadea. See Pausanias, ii. 19. 8, 

3 Pausanias, i. 32. 2. ix. 39. 4. 

* Theophrastus, op. cit. iii. 43 and 9 'ETriKdpirios awb ruv KapirCov, 

47. Compare Aristophanes, Clouds, Aristotle, De mundo, 7, p. 401 a, ed. 
324 sq. ; Photius, Lexicon, s.v. lldpvT)*. Bekker ; Plutarch, De Stoicorum re- 

6 Pausanias, i. 32. 2. pugnantiis, xxx. 8. 

6 Pausanias, ii. 25. 10. As to the 10 Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, 
climate and scenery of these barren iii. No. 77 ; E. S. Roberts, Introduc- 
mountains, see A. Philippson, Der tion to Greek Epigraphy, ii. No. 142, 
Peloponnes (Berlin, 1891), pp. 43 sq., p. 387; Ch. Michel, Reciieil d'in- 
65- scriptions grecques, No. 692 ; L. R. 

7 Joannes Lydus, De mensibus, iv. Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, i. 

48. 66 and 172. 


as the rain. 1 At Olympia and elsewhere he was worshipped Zeus as the 
under the surname of Thunderbolt ; 2 and at Athens there was fender 
a sacrificial hearth of Lightning Zeus on the city wall, where and light- 
some priestly officials watched for lightning over Mount ning< 
Parnes at certain seasons of the year. 8 Further, spots which 
had been struck by lightning were regularly fenced in by 
the Greeks and consecrated to Zeus the Descender, that is, 
to the god who came down in the flash from heaven. 
Altars were set up within these enclosures and sacrifices 
offered on them. Several such places are known from 
inscriptions to have existed in Athens. 4 

Thus when ancient Greek kings claimed to be descended The Greek 
from Zeus, and even to bear his name, 5 we may reasonably j^"^^' 
suppose that they also attempted to exercise his divine Zeus, as 
functions by making thunder and rain for the good of their kj ^ al ^ 
people or the terror and confusion of their foes. In this sonified 
respect the legend of Salmoneus 6 probably reflects the pre- 
tensions of a whole class of petty sovereigns who reigned of 
old, each over his little canton, in the oak-clad highlands of 
Greece. Like their kinsmen the Irish kings, they were ex- 
pected to be a source of fertility to the land and of fecundity 
to the cattle ; 7 and how could they fulfil these expectations 
better than by acting the part of their kinsman Zeus, the 
great god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain ? They 
personified him, apparently, just as the Italian kings per- 
sonified Jupiter. 8 

In ancient Italy every oak was sacred to Jupiter, Jupiter in 
the Italian counterpart of Zeus; 9 and on the Capitol at tn g g^j of 
Rome the god was worshipped as the deity not merely the oak - 
of the oak, but of the rain and the thunder. 10 Contrast- thunder, 

1 Hesiod, Theogony, 71 sq. ; L. carum, 2 No. 577, with Dittenberger's an . d tne 
Preller, Griechische Mythologie,* i. 119. note. ain ' 

2 Pausanias, v. 14. 7; H. Roehl, 6 See above, p. 177. 
Inscriptiones Graecae antiquissimae 6 See above, vol. i. p. 310. 
(Berlin, 1882), No. 101 ; Frankel, 7 See above, vol. i. p. 366. 
Inschriften von Pergamon, i. No. 232 ; 8 For more evidence that the old 
Joannes Malalas, Chronographia, viii. Greek kings regularly personified Zeus, 
p. 199, ed. L. I)indorf. see Mr. A. B. Cook, "The European 

3 Strabo, ix. 2. n, p. 404. Sky-god," Folk-lore, xv. (1904) pp. 299 
* Pollux, ix. 41 ; Hesychius, s.v. sqq. 

f)\vffiov ; Etymologicum Magnum, p. 9 Virgil. Georg. iii. 332, with Ser- 

341. 8 sqq. ; Artemidorus, Onirocrit. vius's note ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xii. 3. 
ii. 9 ; Pausanias, v. 14. 10 ; Ditten- l As to the oak of Jupiter on the 

berger, Sylloge Imcriptionum Grae- Capitol and the god's oak crown, see 


Jupiter as ing the piety of the good old times with the scepticism 

the rain- Q f an a g e w j ien nobody thought that heaven was heaven, or 

cared a fig for Jupiter, a Roman writer tells us that in former 

days noble matrons used to go with bare feet, streaming 

hair, and pure minds, up the long Capitoline slope, praying 

to Jupiter for rain. And straightway, he goes on, it rained 

bucketsful, then or never, and everybody returned dripping 

like drowned rats. " But nowadays," says he, " we are no 

longer religious, so the fields lie baking." 1 And as Jupiter 

conjured up the clouds and caused them to discharge their 

genial burden on the earth, so he drove them away and 

brought the bright Italian sky back once more. Hence he 

was worshipped under the titles of the Serene, he who 

Jupiter as restores serenity. 2 Lastly, as god of the fertilising showers 

feniHty. he made the earth to bring forth ; so people called him the 

Fruitful One. 3 

The god of When we pass from southern to central Europe we still 
andthe meet with the great god of the oak and the thunder among 
thunder the barbarous Aryans who dwelt in the vast primaeval 
northern forests. 4 Thus among the Celts of Gaul the Druids esteemed 
Aryans. nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the oak on which 
worship of ^ g rew > they chose groves of oaks for the scene of their 
the oak. solemn service, and they performed none of their rites with- 
out oak leaves. 5 " The Celts," says a Greek writer, " worship 
Zeus, and the Celtic image of Zeus is a tall oak." fl The 

above, p. 176. With regard to the The epithets Rainy and Showery are 

Capitoline worship of Thundering occasionally applied to Jupiter. See 

Jupiter, see Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 21, Tibullus, i. 7. 26 ; Apuleius, De mundo, 

xxxiv. 10 and 79, xxxvi. 50. He was xxxvii. 371 ; H. Dessau, Inscriptiones 

worshipped in many places besides Latinae selectae, No. 3043. 

Rome as the god of thunder and light- 2 H. Dessau, op. cit. No. 3042 ; 

ning. See Festus, p. 229, ed. C. O. Apuleius, I.e. 

Mtiller ; Apuleius, De mundo, xxxvii. 3 Apuleius, I.e., "Phireseum Frugi- 

371 ; H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae ferum vacant"; H. Dessau, op. cit. 

selectae, Nos. 3044-3053. No. 3017. 

1 Petronius, Sat. 44. That the 4 On this subject see H. Munro 

slope mentioned by Petronius was the Chadwick, " The Oak and the Thunder- 

Capitoline one is made highly probable god," Journal of the Anthropological 

by a passage of Tertullian (Apologeticus Institute, xxx. (1900) pp. 22-42. 
40: " Aquilicia Jovi immolatis, nudi- 6 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi. 249. 

pedalia populo denuntiatis, coelum apud 6 Maximus Tyrius, Dissert, viii. 

Capitolium quaeritis, nubila de laquea- 8. H. D'Arbois de Jubainville sup- 

ribusexspectatis"). The church father's posed that by Celts the writer here 

scorn for the ceremony contrasts with meant Germans ( Cours de la literature 

the respect, perhaps the mock respect, celtique, i. 121 sqq. ). This was not 

testified for it by the man in Petronius. the view of J. Grimm, to whose 




Celtic conquerors who settled in Asia in the third century 
before our era appear to have carried the worship of the 
oak with them to their new home ; for in the heart of Asia 
Minor the Galatian senate met in a place which bore the 
pure Celtic name of Drynemetum, " the sacred oak grove " 
or " the temple of the oak." l Indeed the very name of 
Druids is believed by good authorities to mean no more than 
" oak men." 2 When Christianity displaced Druidism in Traces of 
Ireland, the churches and monasteries were sometimes built f 
in oak groves or under solitary oaks, 3 the choice of the site 
being perhaps determined by the immemorial sanctity of the 
trees, which might predispose the minds of the converts to 
receive with less reluctance the teaching of the new faith. 4 
But there is no positive evidence that the Irish Druids per- 
formed their rites, like their Gallic brethren, in oak groves, 5 so 
that the inference from the churches of Kildare, Derry, and 
the rest is merely a conjecture based on analogy. 

In the religion of the ancient Germans the veneration 
for sacred groves seems to have held the foremost place, 6 and 

authority D'Arbois de Jubainville some scholars. See H. D'Arbois de 

appealed. Grimm says that what Maxi- 
mus Tyrius affirms of the Celts might 
be applied to the Germans {Deutsche 
Mylhologie,^ i. 55), which is quite a 
different thing. 

1 Strabo, xii. 5. i, p. 567. As to 
the meaning of the name see (Sir) J. 
Rhys, Celtic Heathendom, p. 221; H. F. 
Tozer, Selections from Strabo, p. 284. 
On the Galatian language see above, 
p. 126, note 2. 

2 G. Curtius, Griech. Etymologic^ 
pp. 238 sq. ; J. Rhys, op. cit. pp. 221 
sq . ; P. Kretschmer, Einleiiung in die 
Geschichte der griech. Sprache, p. 8 1. 
Compare A. Vanicek, Griechisch- 
lateinisch. etymologisches Worterbuch, 
pp. 368-370. Oak in old Irish is 
daur, in modern Irish dair, darach, in 
Gaelic darach. See G. Curtius, I.e. ; 
A. Macbain, Etymological Dictionary 
of the Gaelic Language (Inverness, 
1896), s.v. "Darach." On this view 
Pliny was substantially right (Nat. 
Hist. xvi. 249) in connecting Druid 
with the Greek drus, "oak," though 
the name was not derived from the 
Greek. However, this derivation of 
Druid has been doubted or rejected by 

Jubainville, Cours de la literature 
celtique, i. (Paris, 1883), pp. 117 sqq.; 

0. Schrader, Reallexikon der indoger- 
manischen Altertumskunde, pp. 638 

3 See above, p. 242. 

4 The Gael's " faith in druidism 
was never suddenly undermined ; for 
in the saints he only saw more power- 
ful druids than those he had previously 
known, and Christ took the position 
in his eyes of the druid KO.T e'oxV- 
Irish druidism absorbed a certain 
amount of Christianity ; and it would 
be a problem of considerable difficulty 
to fix on the point where it ceased to 
be druidism, and from which onwards 
it could be said to be Christianity in 
any restricted sense of that term " (J. 
Rhys, Celtic Heathendom, p. 224). 

6 P. W. Joyce, Social History of 
Ancient Ireland, i. 236. 

6 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie* 

1. 55 sq- Tacitus often mentions the 
sacred groves of the Germans, but never 
specifies the kinds of trees of which 
they were composed. See Annals, ii. 
12, iv. 73 ; Histor. iv. 14 ; Germania, 
7, 9, 39, 40, 43- 





god of the 
oak and 

The wor- 
ship of 
Thor at 

according to Grimm the chief of their holy trees was the 
oak. 1 It appears to have been especially dedicated to the 
god of thunder, Donar or Thunar, the equivalent of the Norse 
Thor; for a sacred oak near Geismar, in Hesse, which 
Boniface cut down in the eighth century, went among the 
heathen by the name of Jupiter's oak (robur Jovis), which in 
old German would be Donares eih, " the oak of Donar." 2 
That the Teutonic thunder god Donar, Thunar, Thor was 
identified with the Italian thunder god Jupiter appears from 
our word Thursday, Thunar's day, which is merely a render- 
ing of the Latin dies Jovis? Thus among the ancient 
Teutons, as among the Greeks and Italians, the god of the 
oak was also the god of the thunder. Moreover, he was 
regarded as the great fertilising power, who sent rain and 
caused the earth to bear fruit ; for Adam of Bremen tells 
us that " Thor presides in the air ; he it is who rules thunder 
and lightning, wind and rains, fine weather and crops." 4 In 
these respects, therefore, the Teutonic thunder god again 
resembled his southern counterparts Zeus and Jupiter. And 
like them Thor appears to have been the chief god of the 
pantheon ; for in the great temple at Upsala his image 
occupied the middle place between the images of Odin and 
Frey, 5 and in oaths by this or other Norse trinities he was 
always the principal deity invoked. 6 Beside the temple at 
Upsala there was a sacred grove, but the kinds of trees 
which grew in it are not known. Only of one tree are we 
told that it was of mighty size, with great spreading branches, 
and that it remained green winter and summer alike. Here 
too was a spring where sacrifices were offered. They used 
to plunge a living man into the water, and if he disappeared 
they drew a favourable omen. Every nine years, at the 
spring equinox, a great festival was held at Upsala in honour 
of Thor, the god of thunder, Odin, the god of war, and Frey, 

1 J. Grimm, op. cit. ii. 542. 

2 Willibald's Life of S. Boniface, in 
Pertz's Monumenta Germaniae his- 
torica, ii. 343 sq. ; J. Grimm, op. cit. 
i. pp. 58, 142. 

3 J. Grimm, op. cit. i. 157. Prof. E. 
Maass supposes that the identification 
of Donar or Thunar with Jupiter was 
first made in Upper Germany between 

the Vosges mountains and the Black 
Forest. See his work Die Tagesgbtter 
(Berlin, 1902), p. 280. 

4 Adam of Bremen, Descriptio insu- 
larum Aquilonis, 26 (Migne's Patrologia 
Latina, cxlvi. col. 643). 

5 Adam of Bremen, I.e. 

8 E. H. Meyer, Mythologie der 
Germanen (Strasburg, 1903), p. 290. 




the god of peace and pleasure. The ceremonies lasted nine 
days. Nine male animals of every sort were sacrificed, that 
their blood might appease the gods. Each day six victims 
were slaughtered, of whom one was a man. Their bodies 
were fastened to the trees of the grove, where dogs and 
horses might be seen hanging beside men. 1 

Amongst the Slavs also the oak appears to have been Penm, the 
the sacred tree of the thunder god Perun, the counterpart 
Zeus and Jupiter/ 2 It is said that at Novgorod there used 
to stand an image of Perun in the likeness of a man with a 
thunder-stone in his hand. A fire of oak wosid brarned day Slavs. 
and night in his honour ; and if ever it went out the attendants 
paid for their negligence with their lives. 3 Perun seems, like 
Zeus and Jupiter, to have been the chief god of his people ; 
for Procopius tells us that the Slavs " believe that one god, 
the maker of lightning, is alone lord of all things, and they 
sacrifice to him oxen and every victim." 4 

The chief deity of the Lithuanians was Perkunas or Perkunas, 
Perkuns, the god of thunder and lightning, whose resemblance 


to Zeus and Jupiter has often been pointed out. Oaks 



1 Adam of Bremen, op. cit. 26, 27, 
with the Scholia (Migne's Patrologia 
Latina, cxlvi. coll. 642-644). 

2 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,* 
i. 142 sq. ; L. Leger, La Mythologie 
slave (Paris, 1901), pp. 54-76. 

3 L. Leger, op. cit. pp. 57 sq., trans- 
lating Guagnini's Sarmatiae Europaeae 
descriptio ( 1 578). The passage is quoted 
in the original by Chr. Hartknoch 
(Alt- und neues Freussen, Frankfort 
and Leipsic, 1684, p. 132), who 
rightly assigns the work to Strykowski, 
not Guagnini. See W. Mannhardt, in 
Magazin herausgegeben von der Lettisch- 
Literarischen Gesellschaft, xiv. (1868) 
pp. 105 sq. 

4 Procopius, De bello Gothico, iii. 14 
(vol. ii. p. 357, ed. J. Haury). 

6 Matthias Michov, " De Sarmatia 
Asiana atque Europea," in Simon 
Grynaeus's Novus Orbis regionum ac 
insularum veteribus incognitarum 
(Paris, 1532), p. 457; id., in J. Pis- 
torius's Polonicae historiae corpus 
(Bale, 1582), i. 144; Martin Cromer, 
De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum 
(Bale, 1568), p. 241 ; J. Maeletius 

(Menecius, Ian Malecki), " De sacrifi- 
ciis et idolatria veterum Borussorum, 
Livonum, aliarumque vicinarum 
gentium," Scriptores rerum Livoni- 
carum, ii. (Riga and Leipsic, 1848) 
p. 390; id., mMitteilungen derLittera- 
rischen Gesellschaft Masovia, Heft 8 
(Lotzen, 1902), p. 187 ; Chr. Hartknoch, 
Alt- undneues Preussen (Frankfort and 
Leipsic, 1684), pp. 131 sqq, ; S. Ros- 
towski, quoted by A. Bruckner, Archiv 
fur slavische Philologie, ix. (1886) 
pp. 32, 35 ; M. Toppen, Geschichte der 
preussischen Historiographie (Berlin, 
1853), p. 190 (" Perkunos ist in alien 
andern Ueberlieferungen so gross und 
hehr, wie nur immer der griechische 
und romische Donnergott, und kein 
anderer der Goffer darf sich ihm gleich 
stellen. Er ist der Hauptgott, -wie 
nach andern Berichten in Preussen, so 
auch in Litthauen und Livland") ; 
Schleicher, " Lituanica," Sitzungs- 
berichte der philosoph.-histor. Classe d. 
kais. Akadetnie d. Wissen. (Vienna), 
xi. (1853 pub. 1854) p. 96 ; H. 
Usener, Gbtternamen (Bonn, 1896), 
P- 97- 




Perkunas, were sacred to him, and when they were cut down by the 
^ e s d of Christian missionaries, the people loudly complained that 

tnc oaK 

and the 


their sylvan deities were destroyed. 1 Perpetual fires, kindled 
with the wood of certain oak-trees, were kept up in honour 
of Perkunas ; if such a fire went out, it was lighted again 
by friction of the sacred wood. 2 Men sacrificed to oak-trees 
for good crops, while women did the same to lime-trees ; 

1 M. Praetorius, Deliciae Prussicae 
(Berlin, 1871), pp. 19 sq. ; S. Ros- 
towski, op. cit. pp. 34, 35. On the 
sacred oaks of the Lithuanians see 
Chr. Hartknoch, op. cit. pp. 117 sqq. ; 
Tettau und Temme, Volkssagen Ost- 
preussens, Litthaucns und Westpreus- 
sens, pp. 19-22, 35-38. 

2 M. Praetorius, I.e. ; S. Grunau, 
Prenssische Chronik, ed. M. Perlbach, 
i. (Leipsic, 1876) p. 78 (ii. tract, 
cap. v. 2). The chronicler, Simon 
Grunau, lived as an itinerant Dominican 
friar at the beginning of the sixteenth 
century in the part of Prussia which 
had been ceded to Poland. He brought 
his history, composed in somewhat 
rustic German, down to I5 2 9- His 
familiar intercourse with the lowest 
classes of the people enabled him to 
learn much as to their old heathen 
customs and superstitions ; but his good 
faith has been doubted or denied. In 
particular, his description of the images 
of the three gods in the great oak at 
Romove has been regarded with sus- 
picion or denounced as a figment. See 
Chr. Hartknoch, op. cit. pp. 127 sqq. ; 
M. Toeppen, op. cit. pp. 122 sqq., 190 
sqq. ; M. Perlbach's preface to his 
edition of Grunau ; H. Usener, Gb'tter- 
namen, p. 83. But his account of the 
sanctity of the oak, and of the per- 
petual sacred fire of oak-wood, may be 
accepted, since it is confirmed by other 
authorities. Thus, according to Malecki, 
a perpetual fire was kept up by a priest 
in honour of Perkunas (Pargnus) on 
the top of a mountain, which stood 
beside the river Neuuassa (Niewiaza, a 
tributary of the Niemen). See Malecki 
(Maeletius, Menecius), op. cit. , Scriptores 
rernm Livonicarum, ii. 391 ; id., 
Mitteilungen der Litterarischen Gesell- 
sehaft Masovia, Heft 8 (Lotzen, 1902), 
p. 187. Again, the Jesuit S. Ros- 
towski says that the Lithuanians main- 

tained a perpetual sacred fire in honour 
of Perkunas in the woods (quoted by 
A. Briickner, Archiv fur slavische 
Philologie, ix. (1886) p. 33). Malecki 
and Rostowski do not mention that the 
fire was kindled with oak-wood, but 
this is expressly stated by M. Prae- 
torius, and is, besides, intrinsically prob- 
able, since the oak was sacred to 
Perkunas. Moreover, the early his- 
torian, Peter of Dusburg, who dedicated 
his chronicle of Prussia to the Grand 
Master of the Teutonic Knights in 
1326, informs us that the high-priest 
of the nation, whom the Prussians 
revered as a pope, kept up a perpetual 
fire at Romow, which is doubtless the 
same with the Romowo or Romewo of 
Grunau (Preussische Chronik, pp. 80, 
81, compare p. 62, ed. M. Perlbach). 
See P. de Dusburg, Chronicon Prus- 
siae, ed. Chr. Hartknoch (Frankfort 
and Leipsic, 1679), p. 79. Martin 
Cromer says that the Lithuanians 
" worshipped fire as a god, and kept it 
perpetually burning in the more fre- 
quented places and towns " (De origine 
et rebus gestis Polonorum, Bale, 1568, 
p. 241). Romow or Romowo is more 
commonly known as Romove. Its site 
is very uncertain. See Chr. Hart- 
knoch, Alt- und neues Preussen, pp. 
122 sqq. Grunau's account of Romove 
and its sacred oak, with the images of 
the three gods in it and the fire of oak- 
wood burning before it, is substantially 
repeated by Alex. Guagnini. See J. 
Pistorius, Polonicae historiae corpus 
(Bale, 1582), i. 52; Respublica sive 
status regni Poloniae, Lituaniae, 
Prussiae, Livoniae,e\.c. (Leyden, 1627), 
pp. 321 sq. I do not know whether 
the chronicler, Simon Grunau, is the 
same with Simon Grynaeus, editor of 
the Novus Orbis regionum ac insularum 
veteribus incognitarum, which was 
published at Paris in 1532. 


from which we may infer that they regarded oaks as male 
and lime-trees as female. 1 And in time of drought, when 
they wanted rain, they used to sacrifice a black heifer, a 
black he-goat, and a black cock to the thunder-god in the 
depths of the woods. On such occasions the people 
assembled in great numbers from the country round about, 
ate and drank, and called upon Perkunas. They carried a 
bowl of beer thrice round the fire, then poured the liquor on 
the flames, while they prayed to the god to send showers. 2 
Thus the chief Lithuanian deity presents a close resemblance 
to Zeus and Jupiter, since he was the god of the oak, the 
thunder, and the rain. 3 

Wedged in between the Lithuanians and the Slavs are The god of 
the Esthonians, a people who do not belong to the Aryan ^"be 
family. But they also shared the reverence for the oak, thunder 
and associated the tree with their thunder-god Taara, the ^Es- 
chief deity of their pantheon, whom they called " Old thonians. 
Father," or " Father of Heaven." 4 It is said that down to 
the beginning of the nineteenth century Esthonians used to 
smear the holy oaks, lime-trees, and ash-trees with the fresh 
blood of animals at least once a year. 5 The following prayer 
to thunder is instructive, because it shews how easily thunder, 
through its association with rain, may appear to the rustic 

1 S. Rostowski, op. cit. p. 35. identity of the names Perkunas and 

2 D. Fabricius, " De cultu, religione Parjanya had been maintained long 
et moribus incolarum Livoniae," Scrip- before by G. Buhler, though he did 
tores rerum Livonicarum, ii. 441. not connect the words with quercus. 
Malecki (Maeletius) also says that See his article, "On the Hindu god 
Perkunas was prayed to for rain. See Parjanya," Transactions of the (Lon- 
Mitteilungen der Litterarischen Gesell- don) Philological Society, 1859, pp. 
schaft Masovia, Heft 8 (Lotzen, 1902), 154-168. As to Parjanya, see below, 
p. 20 1. pp. 368 sq. 

3 According to Prof. H. Hirt, the 4 Fr. Kreutzwald und H. Neus, 
name Perkunas means " the oak-god," Mythische und magische Lieder der 
being derived from the same root Eksten (St. Petersburg, 1854), pp. 16, 
querq, which appears in the Latin 26, 27, 56, 57, 104 ; F. J. Wiede- 
quercus " oak," the Hercynian forest, mann, Aus detn inneren und dusseren 
the Norse god and goddess Fjorygn, Leben der Eksten, pp. 427, 438. 
and the Indian Parjanya, the Vedic Sometimes, however, a special thunder- 
god of thunder and rain. See H. god Kou, Koo, Piker or Pikne is dis- 
Hirt, " Die Urheimat der Indoger- tinguished from Taara (Tar). See F. 
manen," Indogermanischen Forschun- J. Wiedemann, op. cit. p. 427 ; Kreutz- 
gen, i. (1892) pp. 479 sqq. ; id., wald und Neus, op. cit. pp. 12 sq. 
Die Indogermanen (Strasburg, 1905- 6 Boeder - Kreutzwald, Der Ehsten 
1907), ii. 507 ; P. Kretschmer, aberglaubische Gebrauche, Weisen und 
Einleitung in die Geschichle der Gewoknheiten (St. Petersburg, 1854), 
sriechischen Sprarhe, pp. 81 sq. The p. 2. 




prayer to 

the old 
god of 
rain, and 

mind in the character of a beneficent and fertilising power. 
It was taken down from the lips of an Esthonian peasant 
in the seventeenth century. " Dear Thunder," he prayed, " we 
sacrifice to thee an ox, which has two horns and four claws, 
and we would beseech thee for the sake of our ploughing 
and sowing, that our straw may be red as copper, and our 
corn yellow as gold. Drive somewhere else all black, thick 
clouds over great marshes, high woods, and wide wastes. 
But to us ploughmen and sowers give a fruitful time and 
sweet rain. Holy Thunder, guard our fields, that they may 
bear good straw below, good ears above, and good grain 
within." * Sometimes in time of great drought an Esthonian 
farmer would carry beer thrice round a sacrificial fire, then 
pour it on the flames with a prayer that the thunder-god 
would be pleased to send rain. 2 

In like manner, Parjanya, the old Indian god of thunder 
and rain, whose name is by some scholars identified with 
the Lithuanian Perkunas, 3 was conceived as a deity of 
fertility, who not only made plants to germinate, but caused 
cows, mares, and women to conceive. As the power who 
impregnated all things, he was compared to a bull, an animal 
which to the primitive herdsman is the most natural type of 
the procreative energies. Thus in a hymn of the Rigveda 
it is said of him : 

" The Bull, loud roaring, swift to send his bounty, lays in the plants 

the seed for germination. 
He smites the trees apart, he slays the demons : all life fears him 

who wields the mighty weapon. 
From him exceeding strong flees e'en the guiltless when thundering 

Parjanya smites the wicked. 

" Like a car-driver whipping on his horses, he makes the messengers 

of rain spring forward. 
Far off resounds the roaring of the lion what time Parjanya fills 

the sky with rain-cloud. 
Forth burst the winds, down come the lightning-flashes : the plants 

shoot up, the realm of light is streaming. 
Food springs abundant for all living creatures what time Parjanya 

quickens earth with moisture." * 

1 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie^ 
i. 146. 

2 F. J. Wiedemann, op. cit. p. 

3 See above, p. 367, note 3. 

4 Rigveda, Book v. Hymn 83, R. T. 
H. Griffith's translation (Benares, 1889- 
1892), vol. ii. pp. 299 sq. 


In another hymn Parjanya is spoken of as " giver of growth Parjanya. 
to plants, the god who ruleth over the waters and all moving j^,^ od 
creatures," and it is said that "in him all living creatures of thunder, 
have their being." Then the poet goes on : feJSity" 1 

" May this my song to sovran lord Parjanya come near unto his heart 

and give him pleasure. 
May we obtain the showers that bring enjoyment, and god-protected 

plants with goodly fruitage. 

He is the Bull of all, and their impregner : he holds the life of all 
things fixed and moving" * 

And in yet another hymn we read : 

" Sing forth and laud Parjanya, son of Heaven, who sends the gift of 

rain : 

May he provide our pasturage. 

Parjanya is the god who forms in kine, in mares, in plants of earth 
And womanhood, the germ of life." 2 

In short, " Parjanya is a god who presides over the lightning, 
the thunder, the rain, and the procreation of plants and living 
creatures. But it is by no means clear whether he is originally 
a god of the rain, or a god of the thunder. For, as both pheno- 
mena are always associated in India, either of the two opinions 
is admissible, if no deciding evidence comes from another 
quarter." a On this point something will be said presently. 
Here it is enough to have indicated the ease with which the 
notion of the thunder-god passes into, or is combined with, 
the idea of a god of fertility in general. 

The same combination meets us in Heno, the thunder- God of 
spirit of the Iroquois. His office was not only to hurl his J^^d 
bolts at evil-doers, but to cool and refresh the ground with fertility 
showers, to ripen the harvest, and to mature the fruits of 
the earth. In spring, when they committed the seeds 
to the soil, the Indians prayed to him that he would 
water them and foster their growth ; and at the harvest 

1 Rigveda, Book vii. Hymn 101, logical Society, 1859, pp. 154-168 ; id. 
Griffith's translation (vol. iii. pp. 123 in Orient und Occident, i. (1862) pp. 
sq. ) 214-229; J. Muir, Original Sanscrit 

2 Rigveda, Book vii. Hymn 102, Texts, v. 140-142; H. Oldenberg, 
Griffith's translation (vol. iii. p. 124). Die Religion des Rigveda, p. 226; 
On Parjanya see further G. Blihler, A. Macdonnell, Vcdic Mythology, pp. 
" On the Hindu god Parjanya," 83-85. 

Transactions of the (London} Phito- 3 G. Biihler, op. cit. p. 16 1. 

VOL. II 2 B 



Goddess of festival they thanked him for his gift of rain. 1 The Hos 
lightning, f Togoland in West Africa distinguish two deities of the 

ram, and ' 

fertility lightning, a god Sogble and a goddess Sodza, who are 

Hos Dg thC husband and wife and talk with each other in the sound of 

thunder. The goddess has epithets applied to her which 

seem to shew that she is believed to send the rain and to 

cause the plants to grow. She is addressed as " Mother of 

men and beasts, ship full of yams, ship full of the most 

varied fullness." Further, it is said to be she who blesses 

the tilled land. Moreover, like the Hindoo thunder-god 

Parjanya, who slays demons, the Ho thunder-goddess drives 

away evil spirits and witches from people's houses ; under 

her protection children multiply and the inmates of the 

Gods of house remain healthy. 2 The Indians of the Andes, about 

thunder, L a ^ e Titicaca, believe in a thunder-god named Con or Cun, 

ram, and 

fertility whom they call the " lord " or " father " of the mountains 
/of (Ccollo-auqut}. He is regarded as a powerful being, but 
the Andes irritable and difficult of access, who dwells on the high 
Abchases mountains above the line of perpetual snow. Yet he gives 
of the great gifts to those who win his favour ; and when the 
5US ' crops are languishing for lack of rain, the Indians try to 
rouse the god from his torpor by pouring a small libation of 
brandy into a tarn below the snow-line ; for they dare not 
set foot on the snow lest they should meet the dreadful 
thunder-god face to face. His bird is the condor as the 
eagle was the bird of the Greek thunder-god Zeus. 3 Simi- 
larly in time of drought the Abchases of the Caucasus 
sacrifice an ox to Ap-hi, the god of thunder and lightning, 
and an old man prays him to send rain, thunder, and 
lightning, telling him that the crops are parched, the grass 
burnt up, and the cattle starving. 4 These examples shew 
how readily a thunder-god may come to be viewed as a 
power of fertility ; the connecting link is furnished by the 
fertilising rain which usually accompanies a thunder-storm. 

As might have been expected, the ancient worship of 
the oak in Europe has left its print in popular custom and 

1 L. H. Morgan, League of the 3 E. J. Payne, History of the New 
Iroquois (Rochester, 1851), pp. 157 World called America, i. (Oxford, 
sq. 1892) pp. 407 sq. 

2 J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stamme (Ber- 4 N. Seidlitz, "Die Abchasen," 
lin, 1906), pp. 424-427. Globus, Ixvi. (1894) p. 73. 


superstition down to modern times. Thus in the French Traces of 
department of Maine it is said that solitary oak-trees in the 

fields are still worshipped, though the priests have sought to oak in 
give the worship a Christian colour by hanging images of 
saints on the trees. 1 In various parts of Lower Saxony and 
Westphalia, as late as the first half of the nineteenth century, 
traces survived of the sanctity of certain oaks, to which the 
people paid a half-heathenish, half-Christian worship. In 
the principality of Minden young people of both sexes used 
to dance round an old oak on Easter Saturday with loud 
shouts of joy. And not far from the village of Wormeln, 
in the neighbourhood of Paderborn, there stood a holy oak 
in the forest, to which the inhabitants of Wormeln and 
Calenberg went every year in solemn procession. 2 Another 
vestige of superstitious reverence for the oak in Germany is 
the custom of passing sick people and animals through a 
natural or artificial opening in the trunk of an oak for the 
purpose of healing them of their infirmities. 3 At a village 
near Ragnit in East Prussia there was an oak which, down 
to the seventeenth century, the villagers regarded as sacred, 
firmly believing that any person who harmed it would be 
visited with misfortune, especially with some bodily ailment 4 
About the middle of the nineteenth century the Lithuanians 
still laid offerings for spirits under ancient oaks ; 5 and old- 
fashioned people among them preferred to cook the viands 
for funeral banquets on a fire of oak-wood, or at least under 
an oak-tree. 6 On the rivulet Micksy, between the govern- 
ments of Pskov and Livonia in Russia, there stood a stunted, 
withered, but holy oak, which received the homage of the 
neighbouring peasantry down at least to 1874. An eye- 
witness has described the ceremonies. He found a great 
crowd of people, chiefly Esthonians of the Greek Church, 
assembled with their families about the tree, all dressed in 

1 P. Wagler, Die Eiche in alter * M. Praetorius, Deliciae Prussicae 
und neuer Zeit,u. (Berlin, 1891) p. 37. (Berlin, 1871), p. 16. 

2 J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie,* 6 J. G. Kohl, Die deutsch-russischen 
i. 59. Ostseeprovinzen (Dresden and Leipsic, 

3 P. Wagler, Die Eiche in alter und 1841), ii. 31 ; compare 33. 

neuer Zeit, i. (Wurzen, 1891) pp. 21- 6 Schleicher, " Lituanica," Sitzungs- 

23. For many more survivals of oak- berichte der philos.-histor. Classe der 

worship in Germany see P. Wagler, kais. Akademie der Wissenschaften, xi. 

op. cit. ii. 40 sqq. ( r 853> pub. 1854) p. 100. 


Worship g a l a costume. Some of them had brought wax candles and 
Tn modem were fastening them about the trunk and in the branches. 
Russia. Soon a priest arrived, and, having donned his sacred robes, 
proceeded to sing a canticle, such as is usually sung in the 
Orthodox Church in honour of saints. But instead of saying 
as usual, " Holy saint, pray the Lord for us," he said, " Holy 
Oak Hallelujah, pray for us." Then he incensed the tree 
all round. During the service the tapers on the oak were 
lighted, and the people, throwing themselves on the ground, 
adored the holy tree. When the pastor had retired, his 
flock remained till late at night, feasting, drinking, dancing, 
and lighting fresh tapers on the oak, till everybody was 
drunk and the proceedings ended in an orgy. 1 

Cere . Another relic of the ancient sanctity of the oak has sur- 

moniai fires v ivcd to modern times in the practice of kindling ceremonial 
the friction fires by means of the friction of oak-wood. This has been 
of oak- done, either at stated seasons of the year or on occasions of 


distress, by Slavs, Germans, and Celts. Taken together with 
the perpetual sacred fires of oak-wood which we have found 
among the Slavs, the Lithuanians, and the ancient Romans, 3 
the wide prevalence of the practice seems clearly to point 
back to a time when the forefathers of the Aryans in Europe 
dwelt in forests of oak, fed their fires with oak-wood, and 
rekindled them, when they chanced to go out, by rubbing 
two oaken sticks against each other. 

in the From the foregoing survey of the facts it appears that a 

European S oc ^ ^ t ^ ie oa ^> ^ e thunder, and the rain was worshipped of 
god of the old by all the main branches of the Aryan stock in Europe, 
thunder! anc ^ was indeed the chief deity of their pantheon. 4 It was 
and the natural enough that the oak should loom large in the religion 

rain, the 

1 James Piggul, steward of the estate exceptions having since come to my 
of Panikovitz, in a report to Baron knowledge. These wil