Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/320

This page has been validated.

far these stories are the invention of Hesiod himself it is impossible to determine. They bring us down to a cast of fancy more coarse and indelicate than the Homeric, and more nearly resemble some of the holy chapters (ἱεροὶ λόγοι) of the more recent mysteries, such, for example, as the tale of Dionysos Zagreus. There is evidence in the Theogony itself that the author was acquainted with local legends current both at Krete and at Delphi, for he mentions both the mountain-cave in Krete wherein the newly-born Zeus was hidden, and the stone near the Delphian temple—the identical stone which Kronos had swallowed—placed by Zeus himself as a sign and marvel to mortal men. Both these monuments, which the poet expressly refers to, and had probably seen, imply a whole train of accessory and explanatory local legends, current probably among the priests of Krete and Delphi."

All these circumstances appear to be good evidence of the great antiquity of the legends recorded by Hesiod. In the first place, arguing merely a priori, it is extremely improbable that in the brief interval between the date of the comparatively pure and noble mythology of the Iliad and the much ruder Theogony of Hesiod men invented stories like the mutilation of Uranus and the swallowing of his offspring by Cronus. The former legend is almost exactly parallel, as has already been shown to the myth of Papa and Rangi in New Zealand. The latter has its parallels among the savage Bushmen and Australians. In is highly improbable that men in an age so civilised as that of Homer invented myths as hideous as those of the