Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/288

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These idols were dressed out, fed, and adorned as if they had life.[1] It is natural that myths dating from, an age when Greek gods resembled Polynesian idols should be as rude as Polynesian myths. The tenacity of local myth is demonstrated by Pausanias, who declares that even in the highly civilised Attica the Demes retained legends different from those of the central city—the legends, probably, which were current before the villages were "synœcised" into Athens.[2]

It appears, then, that Greek religion necessarily preserves matter of the highest antiquity, and that the oldest rites and myths will probably be found, not in the Panhellenic temples, like that in Olympia, not in the national poets, like Homer and Sophocles, but in the local fanes of early tribal gods, and in the local mysteries, and the myths which came late, if they came at all, into literary circulation. This opinion is strengthened and illustrated by that invaluable guide-book of the artistic and religious pilgrim written in the second century after our era by Pausanias. If we follow him, we shall find that many of the ceremonies, stories, and idols which he regarded as oldest are analogous to the idols and myths of the contemporary backward races. Let us then, for the sake of illustrating the local and savage survivals in Greek religion, accompany Pausanias in his tour through Hellas.

In Christian countries, especially in modern times, the contents of one church are very like the furniture of another church; the functions in one resemble

  1. Hermann, op. cit., p. 94, note 10.
  2. Pausanias, i. 14, 6.