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ahanâ) only means dawn; but as the word also meant laurel, the figurative way of saying, "The sun pursues the dawn," came to be understood as "Apollo pursues the laurel tree," or pursues a girl named Daphne, who becomes a laurel tree.[1] Mr. Max Müller avers that Daphne can be traced back to Sanskrit Ahanâ, and Ahanâ in Sanskrit means the dawn.[2] With his theory is blended the notion that Daphne means the wood which easily burns, though, according to a text quoted by Lobeck, the laurel furnished the wood from which was made the fire-drill, and did not burn, but set the other pieces of wood on fire.

M. Bergaigne, observing that the word Ahanâ only occurs once in the Rig-Veda, translates it, not "dawn," but "eternal," though he admits that the sense is hard to determine.

Mannhardt[3] rejects Mr. Max Müller's view as unfounded in fact. Characteristically does Schwartz (who always sees thunder and storm, as a rule, where Mr. Max Müller sees dawn and sun) announce that the metamorphosis of Daphne is a myth of tempest.[4] The laurel is the storm—tree, and the laurel bough[5] guards those who wear it from thunderbolts, and is a kind of primitive lightning conductor.

While the opinion that Daphne is the dawn has not met with universal assent, we may still venture to suppose that the story of her change into a laurel is

  1. Select Essay, i. 399, 467–468, 607–608.
  2. See also the "Lesson of Jupiter" and "Solar Myths," Nineteenth Century, October and December 1885.
  3. Antike Wald und Feld Cultur, i. 297; ii. 19.
  4. Der Ursprung der Mythologie, p. 160.
  5. Pliny, Nat. Hist., ii. 55, xviii. 45.