as "a philosophy which came to him all in an instant." Thus we find Socrates shocked by the irreverence which styled Zeus the son of Cronus, "who is a proverb for stupidity." But on examining philologically the name Kronos, Socrates decides that it must really mean Koros, "not in the sense of a youth, but signifying the pure and garnished mind." Therefore, when people first called Zeus the son of Cronus, they meant nothing irreverent, but only that Zeus is the child of the pure mind or pure reason. Not only is this etymological system most pious and consolatory, but it is, as Socrates adds, of universal application. "For now I bethink me of a very new and ingenious notion, . . . that we may put in and pull out letters at pleasure, and alter the accents."
Socrates, of course, speaks more than half in irony, but there is a certain truth in his account of etymological analysis and its dependence on individual tastes and preconceived theory.
The ancient classical schools of mythological interpretation, though unscientific and unsuccessful, are not without interest. We find philosophers and grammarians looking, just as we ourselves are looking, for some condition of the human intellect out of which the absurd element in myths might conceivably have sprung. Very naturally the philosophers supposed that the human beings in whose brain and speech myths had their origin must have been philosophers like themselves—intelligent, educated persons. But such persons, they argued, could never have meant to
- Jowett's Plato, vol. i. pp. 632, 670.