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lowest savages. But if we take these myths to be, not new inventions, but the sacred stories of local priesthoods, their antiquity is probably incalculable. The sacred stories, as we know from Pausanias, Herodotus, and from all the writers who touch on the subject of the mysteries, were myths communicated by the priests to the initiated. Plato speaks of such myths in the Republic, 378: "If there is an absolute necessity for their mention, a very few might hear them in a mystery, and then let them sacrifice, not a common pig, but some huge and unprocurable victim; this would have the effect of very greatly diminishing the number of the hearers." This is an amusing example of a plan for veiling the horrors of myth. The pig was the animal usually offered to Demeter, the goddess of the Eleusinian mysteries. Plato proposes to substitute some "unprocurable" beast, perhaps a giraffe or an elephant.

To Hesiod, then, we must turn for what is the earliest complete literary form of the Greek cosmogonic myth. Hesiod begins, like the New Zealanders, with "the august race of gods, by earth and wide heaven begotten."[1] So the New Zealanders, as we have seen, say, "The heaven which is above us, and the earth which is beneath us, are the progenitors of men and the origin of all things." Hesiod[2] somewhat differs from this view by making Chaos absolutely first of all things, followed by "wide-bosomed Earth," Tartarus, and Eros (love). Chaos unaided produced Erebus and Night; the children of Night and Erebus are Æther and Day.

  1. Theog., 45.
  2. Theog., 116.