Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/31

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of as spiritual, holy, immortal, omniscient, and kindly, are suddenly represented as fashioned in the likeness not only of man, but of the beasts; as subject to death, as ignorant and impious.

All pre-Christian religions have their "zoomorophic" or partially zoomorphic idols, gods in the shape of the lower animals, or with the heads and necks of the lower animals. In the same way all mythologies represent the gods as fond of appearing in animal forms. Under these disguises they conduct many amours, even with the daughters of men, and Greek houses were proud of their descent from Zeus in the shape of an eagle or ant, a serpent or a swan; while Cronus and the Vedic Tvashtri and Poseidon made love as horses, and Apollo as a dog. Not less wild are the legends about the births of gods from the thigh, or the head, or feet, or armpits of some parent; while tales describing and pictures representing unspeakable divine obscenities were frequent in the mythology and in the temples of Greece. Once more, the gods were said to possess and exercise the power of turning men and women into birds, beasts, fishes, trees, and stones, so that there was scarcely a familiar natural object in the Greek world which had not once (according to legend) been a man or a woman. The myths of the origin of the world and man, again, were in the last degree childish and disgusting. The Bushmen and Australians have, perhaps, no story of the origin of species quite so barbarous in style as the anecdotes about Phanes and Prajapati which are preserved in the Orphic hymns