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do their deities, by votive offerings. You appease the manes of the dead by wine and festivals. You celebrate the feasts of paganism, by observing days: and, in regard to their morals, you preserve them entire, and have altered
The mythological deities, of whose rites numerous relics Worship of
are yet to be found in the Christian world, have repeatedly the stars.
been traced to that idolatry, which, in the earliest ages, adored the host of heaven instead of the creator of the universe. The sun itself even furnished the Greeks and Romans with their generic appellation of divinity:t and to that planet Macrobius refers all the gods of the mythological
* August. Oper. Contra Faustum Manichæum, Lib. XX., cap. 3. Robinson, Ecclesiast. Researches, ch. IX., p. 194.
+ Mr. Burgess satisfactorily derives the name of Jupiter from Aeos tarnp, Deus pater ; but then he observes, that he was called Diespiter, not because he was diei pater, father of the day, but because he was deus or dius pater, God the father; for anciently dius signified not only a god, but also day, whence diu and sub dio; and thus dies, day, signified also God; for on comparing the etymologies (not those commonly received) of Deus, éws, divus, dives, dius, dies, dis, it appears that the names of dies and dius were originally synonymous; and that the name of God was denominated from day, or the sun. In support of this etymon, he cites some passages in which Jupiter is named as Diespiter.--Plaut. Captiv. II., 4, 1. [IV., 4, 1.] Poen. III., 4, 29, and IV., 7,47; and Hor. Od. I., 34, 5, and Od. III., 2, 29. In these verses, he observes, Jupiter is introduced as the object of fear and adoration; the rewarder of the good, and the avenger of the impious. The proposed explanation, he says, will restore an appellation more consistent with those offices, by which he will be considered not as the father of day, but in a higher and more awful character, the father of Gods and men; and it will confirm the above explanation if we observe that Pluto (Dis) was also called Diespiter, not surely because he was father of day, but as the dius pater, the Jupiter Infernus.--Study of Antiquit., p. 69, 70 note. Thus even in rejecting the usual etymology, the connection between the name of the sun and the heathen deity is confessed. There is another etymology of dius, from dih, a hawk, under the form of which the Egyptians, according to Porphyry, emblematized the sun; of divus from dib, a jackal, another solar emblem; and of geos, whence deus, from Jav, to run, making those words synonymous with planet, from alavelv, to wander; while Çevç has its root in Saw, I live. The northern nations have the name of God, of which the German Gott is the principal variety, from the quality good, which is not the object of the senses, and which is more consistent with the divine nature
systems ;* but, without adopting this opinion in its full
Gothic and night of his absence or death was the mournful season of Egyptian distress and anxiety, till the messengers who had been sent solar rites. to the mountain tops, descried the first rays of returning light, and proclaimed to the plain below the festival of his resurrection.t In like manner, and for the same reason, these periodical recurrences were celebrated by the Egyptians and others :
“ Nam rudis ante illos nullo discrimine vita,
than the coarse conceptions of the mythologists. But we are dealing with
* Saturnal., Lib. I.
+ Hist. Bell. Goth., Lib. II., cap. 15, apud Gibbon, Decline, Vol. VII., ch. 39. In note 42, our historian observes that, according to M. Bailly, the phænix of the Edda, and the annual death and revival of Adonis and Osiris, are the allegorical symbols of the absence and return of the sun in the arctic regions.
Manil. Astron., Lib. I., v. 64.
In the mystical language of the priests, the sun was II.
personified,* and feigned to be slain by an implacable or Adonis, enemy, the emblem of winter, on his recession to the Bacchus, southern hemisphere: thus Adonis slain by the boar, and Osiris, Bacchus torn by the Titans, and Osiris persecuted by forms of the sun.
Typhon, are all typical of the same phenomenon, which
Thammuz came next behind,
Of Thammuz yearly wounded."
of the arrival of the vernal equinox, such as the Hilaria of Hilaria.
the Romans, on the 25th of March, in honor of the Cabiric mother of the gods, which are perpetuated in some of the festivities at Easter. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, who flourished about A.D. 270, was the first of those "holy men' mentioned by Beletus,§ as having endeavoured to attach the people to the new faith, by permitting them to observe their ancient festivals under Christian appellations;
* The principal personifications of this luminary are enumerated by Ausonius in his epigram on Bacchus.
Ogygia me Bacchum vocat;
Epigr. XXIX. Heidelb., 1688.
Apud Durand. de Divin. Offic., Lib. III., cap. 8.
but whether the good father and his pious coadjutors exercised a sound policy in perpetuating the superstition, while they merely directed it to another object, is not a topic for Objects of present discussion. Their purpose was to make proselytes, fathers. and to corroborate those who had already embraced christianity, and it succeeded. This method was subsequently adopted by Gregory the Great, whose express commands on the subject to the abbot Mellitus, are preserved by the venerable Beda.* At a subsequent period, the authority of the church was repeatedly exercised to remove the relics of paganism, which had thus been incorporated with the semi-christianity of the middle ages; but it was difficult to eradicate inveterate errors, for vanities, says Martin Lipenius, continue to adhere like bird-lime, while the virtues, which shine with splendour, quickly perish.t What the church attempted in vain, and the reformation failed to effect, will be very shortly accomplished by the powerful agency of a more widely diffused and rational system of education. The absurdities, noticed in the following pages, exist in scarcely any other than rural districts; and the childish and boisterous sports which delighted our undisciplined ancestors, have nearly all disappeared before the intellectual amusements and occupations now generally within the attainment of the bulk of the people. I
• Hist. Eccles., Lib. I., cap. 20.
+ " Inveterata firmiter hærent; nec facile eradicantur, quæ diu radices egerunt. Vanitatum illecebræ, ut viscus, adeo tenaces sunt, nec quicquam citius perit, quam quæ honestorum splendore corruscant.”—Hist. Strenarum, Æt. IV., sect. 1, apud Græv. Thesaur., Tom. XII., p. 460.
# Of a different opinion is the author of an ancient poem called ' Now a dayes,' preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth :
“ We Englishmen beholde
Be clene cast away :
So gretly to decay."
As the popular rites and superstitions, the “ festa domestica,” which accompanied the celebrations of the church, could not be conveniently noticed in the Glossary, they are here separately treated. The labours of Du Cange, of Bourne, and his editors and continuators, Brand and Ellis; of Strutt, Forster, Jamieson, and others, have almost superseded the necessity of an original investigation; but adopting, with proper acknowledgements, such of their discoveries and deductions as the subject seemed to require, a few additional facts, derived from personal information or escaping their researches, and several illustrations hitherto unnoticed, are interspersed through this essay. In some instances an attempt has been made, with the assistance chiefly of Bryant and Faber, to pierce those dark and remote ages of idolatry, which are unknown to the records of history, but of which, it is supposed, traces remain in existing languages and customs. The marginal authorities, indispensable in a compilation of this nature, are, when due to another, as carefully assigned to him, as those which are professedly quoted from him. Besides the justice, which obviously required this course, another reason existed equally imperious; an opportunity of verifying the borrowed quotations was not always to be obtained.
In a beautiful description of spring by its mythological concomitants, Horace has compressed within the limits of a single ode, the principal religious observances of that season.* His poem suggests a commodious method of treating the vulgar superstitions which accompanied the Christian festivals, without much disturbance of their order in the kalendar. The seasons themselves have had considerable influence in the production of stated observances, and it seems, therefore, adviseable to consider under each, those festivals which concur in that period, as much as possible according to the ancient rather than the modern distribution of the year. Analogous opinions, practices and superstitions will, by this means, be classed under a
Od. I., 4. Solvitur acris hyems, &c.