Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/23

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Origin of attempts to explain myths—(1.) Among the old heathen races a practical and moral need of apology for mythical acts of gods—(2.) Modern historical curiosity—Ancient apologetics, poetic, priestly, philosophic—The two elements in myth, rational and irrational—Examples: Method of Homer, omission and selection—Method of Pindar—Ancient physical, etymological, political, historical, mystic, and symbolical explanations of Greek myths—The assaults of the Christian Fathers on myths—Plutarch, Porphyry, and their refutation by Eusebius—Short sketch of later theories of myth—Bryant, Creuzer, Otfried Müller, Lobeck—The philologists, Kuhn, Schwartz, Max Müller—Objections of Mannhardt—Limitations of philology.

The interpretation of the myths or early divine and heroic legends of various races has become a subject of curious but almost disinterested inquiry. It is a matter of historical importance to understand how, and when, and why the ancestors of the civilised races filled the blank of their past by tales about bestial gods and godlike beasts. But Christian conduct and faith are no longer affected by the answers to these questions which we may discover or invent. Whatever the people of the past may have intended when they