Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/178

This page needs to be proofread.

154 Reviews.

Again, when he comes to consider the differences of opinion between the experts who can read Vedic Sanskrit, what he tells us is this : " It is quite true that they differ on certain points, but he (Mr. Lang) ought not to forget that they differ no more than others who cultivate any progressive science, no more than politi- cal economists, Egyptologists, electricians, theologians, nay, even anthropologists " (vol. i., p. 12). But he does not remind us that though experts differ as to the nature of the Rontgen rays, still our telegraph cables and telephones do not stop working. The basis of Mr. Max Miiller's whole science is the establishment of certain points of identity between the names of the gods of the Vedas and those of Greece and Rome. If Athene is not Ahana, Hermes not Sarameya, and so on, what really is left ? " We do not want etymology or comparisons," he urges, " to tell us who Selene or Artemis was, who was Phoibos or even Phoibos Apollon " (vol. ii., p. 781, sq.). But, admitting that these are all lunar or solar deities, are a few names of which the etymology may be obvious a sufificient basis for the mighty structure which he attempts to rear ?

What, then, it may be asked, is gained by comparing a god of the Vedas with a Greek or Roman deity ? To this his answer is : " When we say that the Vedic Dyaush-pita, or the Proto-Aryan Dyeus pater, is the same god as the Greek Zevs Trarrjp, we do not mean that he migrated, as Wodan was supposed to have done, from the Caucasus to Germany, and that when he had settled in Germany he assumed the warlike character of the Eddie Tyr. All that is meant, and all that can be meant, is that when the sky in some of its aspects had been conceived as an agent and called Uyaus or Dyeus, that name, with thousands of other names, was carried along by the Aryan speakers in their migrations from south to north or from east to west. It formed part of their common Aryan heirloom quite as much as the numerals from one to ten, or the names for father, mother, brother, and all the rest. The concept of this agent of the sky was modified, of course, according to the various aspects which the sky presented to the thoughts of men in Persia, Greece, Italy, and Germany " (vol. i., p. 128, sq.). This is a more modest account of the matter than we have been accustomed to hear from some writers of the linguistic school ; but how far is this residuum of any practical value ?