Lady of the May, will occur to every reader of Mannhardt and of English folk-lore. But we want a Spring bride temporarily supplanted. Is she to be found? The possibility of the Greek and European myths having some connection with Spring rites is of course strengthened by the theory that Hera's Dædala festival was celebrated in the Spring (J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough, i, p. 100).
Secondly, I would note the separation of true bride and bridegroom—the wandering of Zeus, and the dumbness of Grozdanka. To students of Greek cults, the wandering will at once suggest a chthonic phase: it is interesting to note that dumbness is regarded by H. D. Müller as a special attribute of deities of winter, night, death, and the lower world—in other words, as a chthonic characteristic. Is there any evidence among European or other False Brides that they ever enacted the "Death" or "Winter" which is almost as common to peasant folk-custom as the May Bride or Queen of the May, and which is generally destroyed, driven, or carried out, in village festival early in Spring, as a preliminary rite to the joyful fetching in of the May Bride or "Summer"? I need not refer in detail to this universal custom, W. Mannhardt, J. G. Frazer, and all folk-lore collections abound in examples.
The Golden Cradle is a tempting detail to enlarge
- Mannhardt (Zeit. für Ethnologie, vii, p. 285), in commenting on the "Lorbeerkind", says "the exchange of the true bride for a false one is a known mythical expression for Night and Winter". I do not like to lay stress on this remark, as the essay was published in 1875, after which date Mannhardt reversed many of the views he once held; but the passage at least seems to indicate the diffusion of the stories, and to confirm in some measure the above suggestion.
- H. D. Müller, Mythologie der griechischen Stämme, vol. ii, p. 52; vol. i, p. 182, etc.
- In this connection may be noted the burning of the false bride's veil, and the destruction of the Dædala image; both in the myth as told by Plutarch, and in the festival rite described by Pausanias.