Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 4 (1900).djvu/422

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lative view. The author asks "whether the primitive mind did not first invest the world of animals with mystery, because they are objects near at hand, within their limited horizon, and only afterwards rise to the point of grasping the heavenly bodies as being endowed with supernatural power?"

This is a purely mythological book, and, like all mythologists, the author must expect little sympathy when he fails to carry conviction. That disjointed but widely-spread custom, the couvade, the explanation of which has so perplexed anthropologists, is here sought to be divined by the aid of the habits of the Cuckoo, which, having been a pagan god, was afterwards "degraded to a devil." The Sphinx is considered as a Greek embroidery upon the Owl, and the author remarks that "we get thus an explanation of the sphinxes on the helmet of the great statue of Pallas Athene in the Parthenon, described by Pausanias. They were merely more elegant and artistic forms of the homely Owl, the bird of Minerva." That birds have entered largely into the old mythologies this book abundantly maintains with many valuable and apt references, but that they have played the part suggested for them by Mr. de Kay will, we venture to think, not be considered proven by all his readers. But, like the Phœnix, the best hypothesis usually arises from the ashes of its predecessors.

Whether the illustrations should be styled "decorations," as on the title-page, is altogether another question. Mr. Allenson's name appears as representing the publisher on the title-page, but A.S. Barnes & Co. is printed on the cover.