Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/113

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99
ANIMAL-WORSHIP

If the picture of a beast was one of the signs in the writing of a god's name, adoration might be transferred to the beast from the god. It is by no means improbable that this process had its share in producing the results.[1] Some of the explanations of animal-worship which were popular of old are still in some favour. Mr. Le Page Renouf appears to hold that there was something respectably mythical in the worship of the inhabitants of zoological and botanical gardens, something holy apparent at least to the devout.[2] He quotes the opinion attributed to Apollonius of Tyana, that the beasts were symbols of deity, not deities, and this was the view of "a grave opponent." Mr. Le Page Renouf also mentions Porphyry's theory, that "under the semblance of animals the Egyptians worship the universal power which the gods have revealed in the various forms of living nature."[3] It is evident, of course, that all of these theories may have been held by the learned in Egypt, especially after the Christian era, in the times of Apollonius and Porphyry; but that throws little light on the motives and beliefs of the pyramid-builders many thousands of years before, or of the contemporary peasants with their worship of cats and alligators. In short, the systems of symbolism were probably made after the facts, to account for practices whose origin

  1. See Appendix, "The Hare-God in Egypt." Pietschmann, op. cit., p. 163, contends that the animal-worship is older than these Egyptian modes of writing the divine names, say of Ammon Ra or Hathor. Moreover the signs were used in writing the names because the gods were conceived of in these animal shapes.
  2. Hibbert Lectures, pp. 6–7.
  3. De Abst., iv. c. 9.