Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/309

This page has been validated.
295
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

allel ways; as where we read that "the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant," and elsewhere that "the Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob." Hence, as now used in worship, the expression "thy servant" has a history parallel to the histories of all other elements of religious ceremonial.

And here, perhaps, better than elsewhere, may be noted the fact that the phrase "thy son," used to a ruler, or superior, or other person, is originally equivalent to "thy servant." When we remember that in the rudest societies children exist only on sufferance of their parents, and that in patriarchal groups, whence the civilized societies of Europe have descended, the father had life and death power over his children, we see that professing to be another's son was like professing to be his servant or slave. There are ancient instances showing us the equivalence; as when "Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser, King of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me." And we are not without more modern instances, furnished by those mediaeval times when, as we have seen, rulers offered themselves for adoption by more powerful rulers: so assuming the condition of filial servitude and calling themselves sons; as did Theodebert I. and Childebert II. to the Emperors Justinian and Maurice. Nor does there lack evidence that in some places this expression of subordination spreads like the rest, until it becomes a complimentary form of speech. "A Samoan cannot use more persuasive language than to call himself the son of the person addressed."

 

From those complimentary phrases which express abasement of self, we pass to those which exalt another person. Either kind taken alone is a confession of relative inferiority; and this confession becomes the more emphatic when the two kinds are joined, as they ordinarily are.

At first it does not seem likely that words of eulogy may, like other propitiations, be traced back to the behavior of the conquered to the conqueror; but we are not without proof that they do thus originate, certainly in some cases. To the victorious Rameses II. his defeated foes preface their prayers for mercy by the laudatory words—"Prince guarding thy army, valiant with the sword, bulwark of his troops in day of battle, king mighty of strength, great Sovran, Sun powerful in truth, approved of Ra, mighty in victories, Rameses Miamon." Obviously there is no separation between such praises uttered by the vanquished and those subsequently coming from them as a permanently subjugated people, or those commonly made by subjects to their militant and despotic rulers. We pass without break to glorifying words like those addressed to the King of Siam—"Mighty and august lord! Divine Mercy!" "The Divine Order!" "The Master of Life!" "Sovereign of the Earth!" etc.: or like those addressed to the sultan—"The Shadow of God!" "Glory of the Universe!" or like those addressed to the Chinese Emperor—"Son of Heaven!" "The Lord of