The Wooing of Penelope. 117
paniments to an interregnum. There are, again, various English customs which may be noticed in this connection — such as those where the new mayor on his election is dipped into the sea, or, as at Kidderminster, where " the town is for one hour in the hands of the populace, who meet and throw cabbage-stalks at one another, and who afterwards gather together in order to pelt the newly-elected bailiff and his official predecessors with apples." ^ But these are pro- bably rather instances of some form of sacrifice of a divine person.'-^ The record of such customs in ancient Greece is scanty ; but it was possibly on this principle that the Spartan market-place, when a king died, was shut up and the ground sprinkled with chaff. The meetings of the Agora were also suspended for ten days after the king's death.^
In connection, again, with the plunder of goods at the death of a king we have the case of the burning or destroying the goods of the deceased, in order that in an etherealised form they may accompany him to the other world. Of this we have an instance in the Iliad, where Andromache says of Hector: "Thou liest naked ; yet in thine halls lieth raiment of thine, delicate and fair, wrought by the hands of women. But verily all this will I consume with burning fire, to thee no profit since thou wilt never lie therein, yet that this be honour to thee from the men and women of Troy." ^ Now this has obviously nothing to do with the plunder or destruc- tion of the goods of the absent Odysseus by the Suitors, but it is important as exemplifying the method with which Homer treats these scraps of primitive custom. With him the burn- ing of the goods of the dead man has become merely a honorific tribute, a testimony to his worth from his subjects.
^ Gomme, Village Community, p. 109, quoting Couch, History of Polperro, p. 159 ; Gentleman s Magazine, 1790, p. 1191 ; also see Dyer, British Popular Custofus, p. 379.
- Grant Allen, Evolution of the Idea of God, p. 295.
3 Miiller, Dorians (English Translation), vol. ii. p. 120; Herodotus, vi., 50.
- Iliad, xxii. , 510 serjcj.