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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/96

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Report on Folk-tale Research.

regard such legends as mainly expressive of natural phenomena, he does not pronounce definitely against them as in some way symbolizing past events which impressed the imagination and modified the condition of the race, nor would he prejudge the questions whether they are representatives of one common original or independent developments of common mythic germs, nor even whether they are ultimately Aryan at all, and not rather borrowed from older races. These questions he leaves for future research, urging especially careful observation of the processes at work among savage peoples who are still in the mythopœic stage.

The same problem of the historical value of myth is dealt with by M. Ploix in his paper on the myth of the Odyssey. He submits the plot, the personages, the incidents, and the localities of the poem to a careful examination, and shows without difficulty that one and all of these are of such stuff as popular tales are made of The most ingenious portion of his argument is that in which he deals with the subject of the Odyssey, the search for and conquest of Penelope, as identical with the subject of the ordinary folk-tale in which the hero sets out to obtain the bride, who is only to be won after long wandering and the performance of superhuman tasks. Whether or not M. Ploix's dawn-theory be accepted to explain the myth, his analysis lays bare the same result in the case of the Greek myth as that of Mr. Nutt in the Celtic and Teutonic myths : regarded in any sense as history, the value of the narrative is a minus quantity.

I have left myself no space to speak of Mr. Hindes Groome's paper and that of Mr. Hugh Nevill. Folk-tales occupy but a small portion of either. Mr. Nevill, however, succeeds in awakening our curiosity concerning the Sahassa-vatthu, which he describes as "one of the oldest historical folk-lore books in the world". As to his own collection, he gives enough taste of its variety to make us wish he would put it into shape for publication. His official