by changing him into a plant, stone, or animal, and by chastising him with fire or flood. Yet they constantly set him a bad example; they are thieves, liars, murderers, incestuous adulterers. Some of them teach him the arts, others persecute him for a caprice or in pursuit of an amour. Among themselves these mythical beings live in a manner as far as possible from being exemplary. They have internal feuds, wars of gods and Titans, of Devas and Asuras; they have dynastic disputes, and even are guilty of parricide. The earliest wars of these gods are usually suggested by an early omnipresent dualistic philosophy.
There is a good, helpful extra-natural being, Qat, or Michabo, or Ormuzd, and an evil extra-natural being, Loki, or Ahriman, or Tangaroa the Fool, and these authors of good and evil, with their families, engage in an endless vendetta. Finally, the good powers, the Devas, for example, are wont to triumph over the less good, the Asuras. As time goes on, all the members of these races withdraw more and more from the society of men; some wholly disappear; some are slain, some vanish, but are expected to return; the more triumphant of them, the fittest, survive in the prayers, the memories, the temples, the altars of humanity.
Finally, as we read in Plutarch, philosophers merge the virtues even of these surviving gods in the conception of one spiritual and perfect existence, pure deity, and in divers manners explain away the no longer credible or creditable legends. These pious explanations are the first utterances of the science