Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/596

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and intellectual powers, but that there came a "fall," as the result of which came into the world evil, toil, sorrow, and death.

Nothing could be more natural than such an explanation of the existence of evil, in times when men saw everywhere miracle and nowhere law. It is, under such circumstances, by far the more easy explanation, for it is in accordance with the appearances of things: men adopted it just as naturally as they adopted the theory that the Almighty hangs up the stars as lights in the solid firmament above the earth, or trundles the sun behind a high mountain at night, or wheels the planets around the earth, or flings comets as "signs and wonders" to scare a wicked world, or allows evil spirits to control thunder, lightning, and storm, and to cause diseases of body and mind, or that he opens the "windows of heaven" to let down "the waters that be above the heavens," and thus to give rain upon the earth.

A belief, then, in a primeval period of innocence, physical perfection, and intellectual strength, from which men for some fault fell, is perfectly in accordance with what we should expect.

Among the earliest known records of our race we find this view taking shape in the Chaldean legends of war between the gods, and a fall of man; both of which seemed necessary to explain the existence of evil.

In Greek mythology perhaps the best-known statement was made by Hesiod: to him it was revealed, regarding the men of the most ancient times, that they were, at first, "a golden race," that "as gods they were wont to live, with a life void of care, without labor and trouble; nor was wretched old age at all impending, but ever did they delight themselves out of the reach of all ills, and they died as if overcome by sleep; all blessings were theirs; of its own will the fruitful field would bear them fruit, much and ample, and they gladly used to reap the labors of their hands in quietness along with many good things, being rich in flocks and true to the blessed gods." But there came a "fall" caused by human curiosity. Pandora, the first woman created, received a vase which, by divine command, was to remain closed; but she was tempted to open it, and troubles, sorrow, and sickness in every form escaped into the world, hope alone remaining.

So, too, in Roman mythological poetry, the well-known picture by Ovid is but one among the many exhibitions of this same belief in a primeval golden age—a Saturnian cycle—one of the constantly recurring attempts, so universal and so natural in the early history of man, to account for the existence of evil, care, and toil on earth by explanatory myths and legends.

This view we also find embodied in the sacred tradition of the Jews, and especially in one of the documents which form the impressive poem beginning the books attributed to Moses. As to the