Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/28

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18
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of these same people, Hans Stade says: "So many enemies as one of them slays, so many names does he give himself; and those are the noblest among them who have many such names." In North America, too, when a young Creek Indian brings his first scalp he is dubbed a man and a warrior, and receives a "war-name." Among the more advanced people of ancient Nicaragua, this practice had established a general name for such: they called one who had killed another in battle tapalique; and cobra was an equivalent title given by the Indians of the Isthmus.

How descriptive names of honor, thus arising during early militancy, become in some cases official names, we see on comparing evidence furnished by two sanguinary and cannibal societies in different stages of advance. In Feejee, "warriors of rank receive proud titles, such as 'the divider of' a district, 'the waster of' a coast, 'the depopulator of' an island—the name of the place in question being affixed." And then in ancient Mexico the names of offices filled by the king's brothers or nearest relatives were, one of them, "Cutter of men," and another, "Shedder of blood."

Where, as among the Feejeeans, the conceived distinction between men and gods is vague, and the formation of new gods by apotheosis of chiefs continues, we find the gods bearing names like those given during their lives to ferocious warriors. "The Woman-stealer," "the Brain-eater," "the Murderer," "Fresh-from-slaughter," are naturally such divine titles as arise from descriptive naming among ancestor worshiping cannibals. That sundry titles of the gods worshiped by superior races have originated in a kindred manner, is implied by the ascription of conquests to them. Be they the Egyptian deities, the Babylonian deities, or the deities of the Greeks, their power is represented as having been gained by battle; and with accounts of their achievements are in some cases joined congruous descriptive names, such as that of Mars—"the Blood-stainer," and that of the Hebrew god—"the Violent One;" which, according to Keunen, is the literal interpretation of Shaddai.

 

Very generally among primitive men, instead of the literally descriptive name of honor, there is given the metaphorically descriptive name of honor. Of the Tupis, whose ceremony of taking war-names is instanced above, we read that "they selected their appellations from visible objects, pride or ferocity influencing their choice." How such names, first spontaneously given by applauding companions, and afterward accorded in some more deliberate way, are apt to be acquired by men of the greatest prowess, and so to become names of rulers, is suggested by what Ximenez tells us respecting the more civilized peoples of Guatemala. Their king's names enumerated by him are—"Laughing Tiger," "Tiger of the Wood," "Oppressing Eagle," "Eagle's Head," "Strong Snake," etc. Throughout savage Africa there is a like