races in which myths of deities are just budding, in which the religious sentiment is first unfolding itself. Unfortunately, too, there is not a regular closely connected progress of religious and mythical ideas visible in in the history of man. The strata do not lie in convenient and consecutive fashion, each above the other. We have to examine myths of unrelated peoples in an ascending order of civilisation, from Bushmen and Australians to Maoris, from Maoris to Aztecs or Incas, thence to Egyptians, and so to Aryans of India and to Greeks. There are so many mythical strata, and at each ascending step we find the matter of mythical faith the same, with successive modifications, perhaps improvements, in belief, introduced as the human spirit itself begins to see more clearly. But it would be too much to expect to find a wholly unbroken series of phenomena in the evolution of ideas, any more than in the evolution of vegetable and animal life.
A better text for the study of the development of the gods in their mythical aspect can scarcely be found than that which Plutarch offers us in his essay on "The Cessation of Oracles." Plutarch was an enlightened Greek of the first century A.D. He was moderately acquainted with comparative mythology, which he studied chiefly in the legends of Greece and Egypt. His object was, like that of other Greek students from the seventh century before Christ downwards, to account to himself for the senseless, horrible, and fantastic elements in the legends of beings who bore the name of gods. His own conception of God-