said that Zeus swallowed his wife, or that Cronus mutilated his father and ate his children, their meaning cannot possibly affect our notions of the domestic duties, or encourage us to believe that impiety may be acceptable in the sight of deities who themselves are impious.
While mythology is thus no more to us than an affair of historical or antiquarian study, we must remember that the interpretation of myths was once a thing full of vital interest to men whose moral and religious beliefs were deeply concerned. To every civilised race there has come the moment when people have anxiously asked, "Are the old legends of the gods literally true, and, if not literally true, in what sense are they to be believed?" Thus Aristotle, in speaking of the education of the young, writes: "Let the rulers take care that there be no image or picture representing unseemly actions, except in the temples of those gods at whose festivals the law permits even ribaldry;" such, for example, as the obscene public rites of Dionysus. Pausanias describes temple pictures of the most incredible and unnatural horror, the gods represented being Hera and Zeus. We cannot imagine, fortunately, what the misery of an educated Greek must have been when his children had to face the unspeakable examples of divine lust. Habit, of course, blunted the horror.
Yet it is never a pleasant hour when mortals inquire of themselves, "Is our Heavenly Father a large hare or an amorous ram, or a kind of sorcerer capable