were not made in his own moral image at its best, but in the image sometimes of the beasts, sometimes of his own moral nature at its very worst: in the likeness of robbers, wizards, sorcerers, and adulterers. Now it is impossible here to examine minutely all systems of mythological interpretation. Every key has been tried in this difficult lock; every cause of confusion has been taken up and tested, deemed adequate, and finally rejected or assigned a subordinate place. Probably the first attempts to shake off the burden of religious horror at mythical impiety were made by way of silent omission. Thus most of the foulest myths of early India are absent, and presumably were left out, in the Rig-Veda. "The religious sentiment of the hymns, already so elevated, has discarded most of the tales which offended it, but has not succeeded in discarding them all." Just as the poets of the Rig-Veda prefer to avoid the more offensive traditions about Indra and Tvashtri, so Homer succeeds in avoiding the more grotesque and puerile tales about his own gods. The period of actual apology comes later. Pindar declines, as we have seen, to accuse a god of
- Les Religions de l'Inde, Barth, p. 14. See also postea, "Indian Myths."
- The reasons for Homer's reticence are probably different in different passages. Perhaps in some cases he had heard a purer version of myth than what reached Hesiod; perhaps he sometimes purposely (like Pindar) purified a myth; usually he must have selected, in conformity with the noble humanity and purity of his taste, the tales that best conformed to his ideal. He makes his deities reluctant to drag out in dispute old scandals of their early unheroic adventures, some of which, however, he gives, as the kicking of Hephæstus out of heaven, and the imprisonment of Ares in a vessel of bronze. Compare Professor Jebb's Homer, p. 83: "Whatever the instinct of the great artist has tolerated, at least it has purged these things away," that is, divine amours in bestial form.