Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/27
minds. Hence the great naïveté with which the painter of that time treats his almost solitary subject, the Bible. The characters of the Old and New Testament are to him exactly like the people he meets every day, so that all his representations of the past are full of internal and external anachronisms.
This want of knowledge gave the artist a kind of assurance, the boldness of naïveté. but his work is far inferior to reality. The frescoes in the cathedral at Kassa, representing Jerusalem at the time of Christ, make it look exactly like the town of Kassa in the fifteenth century.
It is this lack of the chronological sense which has falsified the chronicles. In them the times of Attila the Hun, and the Hungarian Árpád, are mixed up together, although they were really separated by an interval of five hundred years. They tell us that the Hungarians occupied the country some ten or twenty years after the death of Attila, whose two grandsons fought under the banner of Árpád. One of the earliest chroniclers, the "anonymous scribe of King Béla" (Anonymus Belae Regis notarius) actually took the names of the Hungarian leaders from Dares Phrygius's Destruction of Troy, where the author describes Castor and Pollux, Hector and Paris. To the chronicler, the Trojan War and the doings of Attila and of Árpád, were very much the same.
Any one who fails to realise the vast difference between the mental life of that day and of our own, as the rationalists of the eighteenth century failed, and as also did George Bessenyei, a follower of Voltaire, in Hungary, will never understand the real spirit of the Middle Ages, and neither will he who is content with merely following the political controversies of the period. It was to the absence of any control over the impulses of the natural