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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/671

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ANTHROPOID MYTHOLOGY.

stick of carbon glowed brilliantly, and with perfect steadiness. I subsequently exhibited this apparatus in the Town-Hall of Birmingham, and many times at the Midland Institute. The only scientific difficulty connected with this arrangement was that due to a slight volatilization of the carbon, and its deposition as a brown film upon the lamp-glass; but this difficulty is not insuperable.—Knowledge.

 

ANTHROPOID MYTHOLOGY.
By Dr. B. PLACZEK.

SHAKESPEARE in one place calls sleep the "ape of death," and thereby gives living expression to an idea which men have at all times entertained of their "nearest relative." As sleep to death, so according to the vulgar view is the ape related to man. Sleep is not quite death, and is no longer conscious life, but is something between the two; and man learns to regard it as a counterfeit of death. We may say, in general, that wherever men have come into close contact with monkeys they have acquired the same impression of them, that they are a caricature of man, and the idea that they are a not-yet man or a no-longer man, a human likeness of a more primitive design or one that has suffered deformity. All of the more ancient conceptions of the relations between men and apes thus waver between variation and degeneration. The shape which the idea of a community of the two principal families of primates has taken, among the partisans of creation as well as of transformism, can be followed, from divination to empiricism, from superstition to scientific description, and it is not strange that among all the theories of the doctrine of development the so-called "monkey theory" has spread most rapidly and widely. Besides the myths and legends in which the face of an ape now and then appears—fables, the fundamental idea of which carried out by skillful and careful minds assumes a scientific value—we meet, among the more ancient peoples who made the anthropoid apes the subjects of scientific disputes or invested them with religious or ritual interest, far more important expressions of a supposed relationship of those creatures with man.

The most ancient literature of the Hebrews is eminently a rich and inexhaustible treasury of observations of nature and inquiries into it. We shall first concern ourselves with these, and then draw from Arabian, Egyptian, Indian, ancient Mexican, and other stores, their ape-lore so far as it is of scientific interest and approaches the present conceptions of the nature of apes. Of the joint triennial voyages of the Israelite and Phoenician fleets to Africa, 1 Kings x, 22, says: "For the king had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram;