Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/33

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23
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

toval," "our great gods whom we call teotes," cross-examination brought out the further answers—"Our fathers are these teotes;" "all men and women descend from them;" "they are of flesh and are man and woman;" "they walked over the earth dressed, and ate what the Indians ate." Gods and first parents being thus identified, fatherhood and divinity become allied ideas. The remotest ancestor supposed to be still existing in the other world to which he went, the creator of his descendants, "the old, old one," or "ancient of days," becomes the chief deity; and so "father" is not, as we suppose, a metaphorical equivalent for "god," but a literal equivalent.

Therefore it happens that among all nations we find it an alternative title. In the before-quoted prayer of the New-Caledonian to the ghost of his ancestor—"Compassionate father, here is some food for you; eat it; be kind to us on account of it"—we are shown that original identification of fatherhood and godhood to which all mythologies and theologies carry us back. We see the naturalness of the facts that the Peruvian Incas worshiped their father the Sun; that Ptah, the first of the dynasty of the gods who ruled Egypt, is called "the father of the father of the gods;" and that Zeus is "father of gods and men."

After contemplating these early beliefs in which the divine and the human are so little distinguished, or after studying the beliefs still extant in China and Japan, where the rulers, "sons of heaven," claim descent from these most ancient fathers or gods, it is easy to see how the name father, in its higher sense, comes to be applied to a living potentate. His proximate and remote ancestors being all spoken of as fathers, distinguished only by the prefixes grand, great-great, etc., it results that the name father, given to every member of the series, comes to be given to the last of the series still living. With this cause is joined a further cause. Where establishment of descent in the male line has initiated the patriarchal family, the name father, even in its original meaning, comes to be associated with supreme authority, and to be therefore a name of honor. Indeed, in nations formed by the compounding and recompounding of patriarchal groups, the two causes coalesce. The remotest known ancestor of each compounding group, at once the most ancient father and the god of the compound group, being continuously represented in blood, as well as in power, by the eldest descendant of the eldest, it happens that this patriarch, who is head not of his own group only but also of the compound group, stands to both in a relation analogous to that in which the apotheosized ancestor stands; and so combines in a measure the divine power, the paternal power, and the kingly power.

Hence the prevalence of this word as a royal title. It is used equally by American Indians and by New-Zealanders in addressing the rulers of the civilized. We find it in Africa, Of the various names for the king among the Zulus, the name father heads the list; and in Dahomey, when the king walked from the throne to the palace, "every in-