Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/65

This page needs to be proofread.


deigns to make to you." So she bit before her, and the queen looked into her mouth; she saw that one little grain of the bite had gone down, but Bera spat out all the rest from her mouth, and said she would take no more though she were tortured and killed.

There are two points in this story deserving of notice. The one is recognition through the eyes, because it is through the eyes that the immortal soul looks out. The other is the effort made by the queen to get Bera to eat of the flesh, precisely as in the story of the Rose Tree the wicked stepmother endeavours to force the boy to eat the flesh of his sister.

In the story of Lycaon also lycanthropy was associated with cannibalism; and these tales seem to point back to a period when there was a revolt against such practice. Probably among the prehistoric natives conquered by the Aryans, cannibalism had been in vogue. St. Jerome, speaking of the Attacotti in Britain, says that they were cannibals, and when a youth he had seen them. At a low stage of development of civilisation, cannibalism was a recognised means whereby men acquired vigour, for by eating at least the heart or brain of a valiant enemy they thought that they assimilated to themselves his rare and valuable qualities. At a far later period Hrolf Kraki, finding a poor frightened