Popular Science Monthly/Volume 36/February 1890/New Chapters in the Warfare of Science: Comparative Mythology I

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 36 February 1890  (1890) 
New Chapters in the Warfare of Science: Comparative Mythology I
By Andrew Dickson White




THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



FEBRUARY, 1890.




NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

VII. COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL.D., L.H.D.,

EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

PART I.

A FEW years since, Maxime Du Camp, an eminent member of the French Academy, traveling from the Red Sea to the Nile through the Desert of Kosseir, came to a barren slope covered with bowlders, rounded and glossy.

His Mohammedan camel-drivers accounted for them on this wise:

"Many years ago Hadji Abdul-Aziz, a sheik of the dervishes, was traveling on foot through this desert; it was summer; the sun was hot and the dust stilling; thirst parched his lips, fatigue weighed down his back, sweat dropped from his forehead, when looking up he saw — on this very spot — a garden beautifully green, full of fruit, and, in the midst of it, the gardener.

"'O fellow-man cried Hadji Abdul-Aziz, s in the name of Allah, clement and merciful, give me a melon and I will give you my prayers.'

"The gardener answered, 'I care not for your prayers; give me money, and I will give you fruit.'

"'But' said the dervish, * I am a beggar; I have never had money; I am thirsty and weary, and one of your melons is all that I need.'

"'No,' said the gardener, 'go to the Nile and quench your thirst.'

"Thereupon the dervish, lifting his eyes toward heaven, made this prayer: 'O Allah, thou who in the midst of the desert didst make the fountain of Zem-Zem spring forth to satisfy the thirst 434 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of Ismail, father of the faithful ; wilt thou suffer one of thy creat- ures to perish thus of thirst and fatigue ? '

" And it came to pass that, hardly had the dervish spoken, when an abundant dew descended upon him, quenching his thirst and refreshing him even to the marrow of his bones.

" Now at the sight of this miracle the gardener knew that the dervish was a holy man, beloved of Allah, and straightway of- fered him a melon.

" ' Not so/ answered Hadji Abdul- Aziz, ' keep what thou hast, thou wicked man. May thy melons become as hard as thy heart, and thy field as barren as thy soul ! '

"And straightway it came to pass that the melons were changed into these blocks of stone, and the grass into this sand, and never since has anything grown thereon/'

In this story, and in myriads like it, we have a survival of that early conception of the universe in which so many of the leading moral and religious truths of the great sacred books of the world are imbedded.

All ancient sacred lore abounds in such mythical explanations of remarkable appearances in nature, and these are most fre- quently prompted by mountains, rocks, and bowlders seemingly misplaced.

In India we have such typical examples among the Brahmans as the mountain-peak which Durgu threw at Parvati ; and among the Buddhists the stone which Devadatti hurled at Buddha.

In Greece the Athenian, rejoicing in his belief that Athena guarded her chosen people, found it hard to understand why the great rock Lycabettus should be just too far from the Acropolis to be of use as an outwork ; but a myth was developed which ex- plained all. According to this, Athena had intended to make Lycabettus a defense for the Athenians, and she was bringing it through the air from Pallene for that very purpose ; but, unfor- tunately, a raven met her and informed her of the wonderful birth of Erichthonius, which so surprised the goddess that she dropped the rock where it now stands.

So, too, a peculiar rock at JEgina was accounted for by a long and circumstantial legend to the effect that Peleus threw it at Phocas.

A similar mode of explaining such objects is seen in the my- thologies of northern Europe. In Scandinavia we constantly find rocks which tradition accounts for by declaring that they were hurled by the old gods at each other, or at the early Christian churches.

In Teutonic lands, as a rule, wherever a strange rock or stone is found, there will be found a myth or a legend, heathen or Christian, to account for it.

�� � NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 435

So, too, in Celtic countries ; typical of this mode of thought in Brittany and in Ireland is the popular belief that such features in the landscape were dropped by the devil or by fairies.

Even at a much later period such myths have grown and bloomed ; Marco Polo gives a long and circumstantial legend of a mountain in Asia Minor which, not long before his visit, was re- moved by a Christian who had " faith as a grain of mustard- seed," and, remembering the Saviour's promise, transferred the mountain to its present place by prayer, " at which marvel many Saracens became Christians." *

Similar mythical explanations are also found, in all the older religions of the world, for curiously marked meteoric stones, fos- sils, and the like.

Typical examples are found in the imprint of Buddha's feet on stones in Siam and Ceylon ; in the imprint of the body of Moses, which down to the middle of the last century was shown near Mount Sinai ; in the imprint of Poseidon's trident on the Acropo- lis at Athens ; in the imprint of the hands or feet of Christ on stones in France, Italy, and Palestine ; in the imprint of the Vir- gin's tears on stones at Jerusalem ; in the imprint of the feet of Abraham at Jerusalem and of Mohammed on a stone in the Mosque of Khait Bey at Cairo ; in the imprint of the fingers of giants on stones in the Scandinavian Peninsula, in north Germany, and in western France ; in the imprint of the devil's thighs on a rock in Brittany, and of his claws on stones which he threw at churches in Cologne and Saint Pol-de-Le'on ; in the imprint of the shoulder of the devil's grandmother on the " elbow-stone " at the Mohriner- see; in the imprint of St. Otho's feet on a stone formerly pre- served in the castle church at Stettin ; in the imprint of the little finger of Christ and the head of Satan at Ehrenberg ; and in the imprint of the feet of St. Agatha at Catania, in Sicily. To ac- count for these appearances and myriads of others, long and in- teresting legends were developed, and out of this mass we may take one or two as typical.

  • For Maxime Du Camp, see "Le Nil, Egypte et Nubie," Paris, 1877, chapter v. For

India, see Diincker, " Geschichte des Alterthums," iii, 366 ; also Coleman, " Mythology of the Hindus," p. 90. For Greece, as to the Lycabettus myth, see Leake, " Topography of Athens," vol. i, sec. 3 ; also Burnouf, "La Legende Athe'nienne," p. 152. For the rock at .<Egina, see Charton, vol. i, p. 310. For Scandinavia, see Thorpe, "Northern Antiqui- ties," passim. For Teutonic countries, see Grimm, " Deutsche Mythologie " ; Panzer, " Bei- trag zur deutschen Mythologie," vol. ii ; and especially J. B. Friedrich, " Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur," pp. 116 et seq. For Celtic examples I am indebted to that learned and genial scholar, Prof. J. F. Mahaffy, of Trinity College, Dublin. See also story of the devil dropping a rock when forced by the archangel Michael to aid him in building Mont Saint-Michel on the west coast of France, in Sebillot's " Traditions de la Haute-Bretagne," vol. i, p. 22 ; also multitudes of other examples in the same work. For Marco Polo, see in Grynaeus, p. 337; also Charton, "Voyageurs anciens et modernes," pp. 274 et seq., where the long and circumstantial legend is given.

�� � 436 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

One of the most beautiful was evolved at Rome. On the bor- der of the mediaeval city stands the church of "Domine quo vadis " ; it was erected in honor of a stone, which is still pre- served, bearing a mark resembling a human footprint perhaps the bed of a fossil.

Out of this a pious legend grew as naturally as a wild rose in a prairie. According to this story, in one of the first great per- secutions the heart of St. Peter failed him, and he attempted to flee from the city ; arriving outside the walls he was suddenly confronted by the Master, whereupon Peter in amazement asked, " Lord, where goest thou ? " {Domine quo vadis ?) ; to which the Master answered, " To Rome, to be crucified again." The apostle, thus rebuked, returned to martyrdom ; the Master vanished, but left, as a perpetual memorial, his footprint in the solid rock.

Still another legend accounts for a curious mark in a stone at Jerusalem. According to this, St. Thomas, after the ascension of the Lord, was again troubled with doubts, whereupon the Vir- gin Mother threw down her girdle, which left its imprint upon the rock, and thus converted the doubter fully and finally.

And still another example is seen at the very opposite extreme of Europe, in the legend of the priestess of Hertha in the island of Rugen. She had been unfaithful to her vows, and the gods fur- nished a proof of her guilt by causing her and her child to sink into the rock on which she stood.*

  • For myths and legends crystallizing about bowlders and other stones curiously shaped

or marked, see, on the general subject, in addition to works already cited, Des Brosses, " Les Dieux Fetiches," 1760, passim, but especially pp. 166, 167 ; and for a condensed statement as to worship paid them, see Gerard de Rialle, " Mythologie comparee," vol. vi, chapter ii. For imprints of Buddha's feet, see Tylor, " Researches into the Early History of Mankind," London, 1878, pp. 115 et seq. ; also Coleman, p. 203, and Charton, "Voya- geurs anciens et modernes," pp. 365, 366, where engravings of one of the imprints, and of the temple above another, are seen. There are five which are considered authentic by the Siamese, and a multitude of others more or less strongly insisted upon. For the imprint of Moses' body, see travelers from Sir John Maundeville down. For the mark of Neptune's trident, see last edition of Murray's " Handbook of Greece," vol. i, p. 322 ; and Burnouf, "La Legende Athenienne," p. 153. For imprint of the feet of Christ, and the Virgin's girdle and tears, see many of the older travelers in Palestine, as Arculf, Bouchard, Roger, and especially Bertrandon de la Brocquiere in Wright's "Collection," pp. 339, 340; also Maundrell's " Travels " and Maundeville. For the curious legend regarding the imprint of Abraham's foot, see Weil, "Biblische Legenden der Muselmanner," pp. 91 et seq. For many additional examples in Palestine, particularly the imprints of the bodies of three apostles on stones in the Garden of Gethsemane and of St. Jerome's body in the desert, see Beauvau, "Relation du Voyage du Levant," Nancy, 1615, passim. For the various im- prints made by Satan and giants in Scandinavia and Germany, see Thorpe, ii, 85 ; Fried- richs, pp. 126 and passim. For a very rich collection of such explanatory legends regard- ing stones and marks in Germany, see Karl Bartsch, " Sagen, Marchen und Gebrauche aus Mecklenburg," Wien, 1880, vol. ii, pp. 420 et seq. For a woodcut representing the imprint of St. Agatha's feet at Catania, see Charton, " Voyageurs anciens et modernes," vol. ii, p. 75. For a woodcut representing the imprint of Christ's feet on the stone from which he ascended to heaven, see woodcut in Maundeville, edition of 1484, in the White Library,

�� � NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 437

Another and very fruitful source of explanatory myths is found in ancient centers of volcanic action, and especially in old craters of volcanoes and fissures filled with water.

In China we have, among other examples, Lake Man, which was once the site of the flourishing city Chiang Shui, over- whelmed and sunk on account of the heedlessness of its inhabi- tants regarding a divine warning.

In Phrygia the lake and morass near Tyana were ascribed to the wrath of Zeus and Hermes, who, having visited the cities which formerly stood there, and having been refused shelter by all the inhabitants save Philemon and Baucis, sank the wicked cities beneath the lake and morass, but rewarded their bene- factors.

Stories of similar import grew up to explain the crater near Sipylos in Asia Minor and that of Avernus in Italy ; the latter came to be considered the mouth of the infernal regions, as every school-boy knows when he has read his Virgil.

In the later Christian mythologies we have such typical le- gends as those which grew up about the old crater in Ceylon ; the salt water in it was accounted for by supposing it the tears of Adam and Eve, who retreated to this point after their expulsion from paradise and bewailed their sin during a hundred years.

So, too, in Germany we have multitudes of lakes supposed to owe their origin to the sinking of valleys as a punishment for human sin. Of these are the "Devil's Lake," near Gustrow, which rose and covered a church and its priests on account of their corruption; the lake at Probst- Jesar, which rose and cov- ered an oak-grove and a number of peasants resting in it on ac- count of their want of charity to beggars ; and the Lucin Lake, which rose and covered a number of soldiers on account of their cruelty to a poor peasant.

Such legends are found throughout America and in Japan, and will doubtless be found throughout Asia and Africa, and especially among the volcanic lakes of South America, the pitch lakes of the Caribbean Islands, and even about the Salt Lake of Utah; for explanatory myths and legends under such circum- stances are inevitable.*

Cornell University. For the legend of Domine quo vadis, see many books of travel and nearly all guide-books for Rome, from the mediaeval " Mirabilia Romas " to the latest edition of Murray. The footprints of Mohammed at Cairo were shown to the present writer in 1889. On the general subject, with many striking examples, see Falsan, " La Periode gla- ciaire," Paris, 1889, pp. 17 and 294, 295.

  • As to myths explaining volcanic craters and lakes, and embodying ideas of the wrath

of Heaven against former inhabitants of the neighboring country, see Forbiger, " Alte Geographie," Hamburg, 1877, i, 563. For exaggerations concerning the Dead Sea, see ibid., i, 575. For the sinking of Chiang Shui and other examples, see Denny's " Folklore of China," p. 126 et seq. For the sinking of the Phrygian region, the destruction of its inhabi-

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To the same manner of explaining striking appearances in physical geography, and especially strange rocks and bowlders, we mainly owe the innumerable stories of the transformation of living beings, and especially of men and women, into these natu- ral features.

In the mythology of China we constantly come upon legends of such transformations from that of the first counselor of the Han dynasty to those of shepherds and sheep. In the Brahman- ical mythology of India, Salagrama, the fossil ammonite, is recog- nized as containing the body of Vishnu's wife, and the Binlang stone has much the same relation to Siva; so, too, the nymph Raniba was changed, for offending Ketu, into a mass of sand ; by the breath of Siva elephants were turned into stone, and in a very touching myth Luxman is changed into stone but afterward released. In the Buddhist mythology a Nat demon is repre- sented as changing himself into a grain of sand.

Among the Greeks such transformation-myths come constantly before us both the changing of stones to men and the changing of men to stones. Deucalion and Pyrrha, escaping from the flood, repeopled the earth by casting behind them stones which became men and women ; Heraulos was changed into stone for offending Mercury ; Pyrrhus for offending Rhea ; Phineus, and Polydektes with his guests, for offending Perseus ; under the petrifying glance of Medusa's head such transformations became a thing of course.

To myth-making in obedience to the desire of explaining strik- ing natural appearances, coupled with the idea that sin must be followed by retribution, we also owe the well-known Niobe myth. Having incurred the divine wrath, she saw those dearest to her destroyed by missiles from heaven, and was finally transformed into a rock on Mount Sipylos which bore some vague resemblance to the human form, and her tears became the rivulets which trickled from the neighboring strata.

Thus, in obedience to a moral and intellectual impulse, a strik- ing geographical appearance was explained, and for ages pious Greeks looked with bated breath upon the rock at Sipylos which was once Niobe, just as for ages pious Jews, Christians, and Mo- hammedans looked with awe upon the salt pillar at the Dead Sea which was once Lot's wife.

tants, and the saving of Philemon and Baucis, see Ovid's "Metamorphoses," Book VIII; also Botticher, " Baumcultus der Alten," etc. For the lake in Ceylon arising from the tears of Adam and Eve, see variants of the original legend in Maundeville and in Jiirgen Andersem " Reisebeschrcibung," 1669, ii, 132. For the volcanic nature of the Dead Sea, see Daubeny cited in Smith's " Dictionary," 1873, sub voc. "Palestine." For lakes in Ger- many owing their origin to human sin and various supernatural causes, sec Karl Bartsch, " Sagen, Marchen und Gebrauche aus Mecklenburg," vol. i, pp. 397 et seq. For lakes in America, see any good collection of Indian legends. For lakes in Japan sunk supemat- urally, see Braun's " Japanesische Marchen und Sagen," Leipsic, 1885, pp. 350, 351.

�� � NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 439

Pausanias, one of the most honest of ancient travelers, gives us a striking exhibition of this feeling. Having visited this mon- ument of divine vengeance at Mount Sipylos, he tells us very naively that, though he could discern no human features when standing near it, he thought that he could see them when standing at a distance. There could hardly be a better example of that most common and deceptive of all things belief created by the desire to believe.

In the pagan mythology of Scandinavia we have such typical examples as Bors slaying the giant Ymir and transforming his bones into bowlders ; also " the giant who had no heart " trans- forming six brothers and their wives into stone ; and, in the old Christian mythology, St. Olaf changing into stone the wicked giants who opposed his preaching.

So, too, in Celtic countries we have in Ireland such legends as those of the dancers turned into stone ; and in Brittany, the stones at Plesse", which were once hunters and dogs violating the sanctity of Sunday ; and the stones of Carnac, which were once soldiers who sought to kill St. Comely.

Teutonic mythology inherited from its earlier Eastern days a similar mass of old legends, and developed a still greater mass of new ones. Thus, near the Konigstein, which all visitors to the Saxon Switzerland know so well, is a bowlder which for ages was believed to have once been a maiden transformed into stone for refusing to go to church ; and near Rosenberg in Mecklenburg is another curiously shaped stone of which a similar story is told. Near Spornitz, in the same region, are seven bowlders whose forms and position are accounted for by a long and circumstantial legend that they were once seven impious herdsmen ; near Brahlsdorf is a stone which, according to a similar explanatory myth, was once a blasphemous shepherd ; near Schwerin are three bowlders which were once wasteful servants ; and at Neustadt, down to a recent period, was shown a collection of stones which were once a bride and bridegroom with their horses and wagon all punished for an act of cruelty ; and these stories are but typical of thousands.

At the other extremity of Europe we may take, out of the multitude of explanatory myths, that which grew about the well- known group of bowlders near Belgrade. In the midst of them stands one larger than the rest : according to the legend which was developed to account for all these, there once lived there a swineherd, who was disrespectful to the consecrated host ; where- upon he was changed into the larger stone, and his swine into the smaller ones. So also at Saloniki we have the pillars of the ruined temple, which are widely believed, especially among the Jews of that region, to have once been human beings, and are therefore known as the " enchanted columns/'

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Among the Arabs we have an addition to our sacred account of Adam the legend of the black stone of the Caaba at Mecca, into which the angel was changed who was charged by the Al- mighty to keep Adam away from the forbidden fruit, and who neglected his duty.

Similar old transformation legends are abundant among the Indians of America, the negroes of Africa, and the natives of Australia and the Pacific islands.

Nor has this making of myths to account for remarkable ap- pearances yet ceased, even in civilized countries.

About the beginning of this century the Grand Duke of Wei- mar, smitten with the classical mania of his time, placed in the public park near his palace a little altar, and upon this was carved, after the manner so frequent in classical antiquity, a serpent taking a cake from it.

And shortly there appeared, in the town and the country around about, a legend to explain this altar and its decoration. It was commonly said that a huge serpent had laid waste that region in the olden time, until a wise and benevolent baker had rid the world of the monster by means of a poisoned biscuit.

So, too, but a few years since, in the heart of the State of New York, a swindler of genius having made and buried a " petrified giant," one theologian explained it by declaring it a Phoenician idol, and published the Phoenician inscription which he thought he had found upon it ; others saw in it proofs that " there were giants in those days," and within a week after its discovery myths were afloat that the neighboring remnant of the Onondaga Indians had traditions of giants who frequently roamed through that region.*

  • For transformation myths and legends, identifying rocks and stones with gods and

heroes, see Welcker, " Gotterlehre," pp. 218 et seq. For recent and more accessible state- ments for the general reader, see Robertson Smith's admirable " Lectures on the Religion of the Semites," Edinburgh, 1889, pp. 86 et seq. For some thoughtful remarks on the ancient adoration of stones rather than statues, with reference to the anointing of the stones at Bethel by Jacob, see Dodwell, " Tour through Greece," vol. ii, p. 1*72 ; also Robertson Smith as above, Lecture V. For Chinese transformation legends, see Denny's " Folklore of China," pp. 96 and 128. For Hindu and other ancient legends of transformations, see Dawson, "Diction- ary of Hindu Mythology," also Coleman as above, also Cox, " Mythology of the Aryan Na- tions," pp. 81-97, etc. For such transformations in Greece, see the "Iliad," and Ovid as above ; also Stark, " Niobe und die Niobiden," p. 444 and elsewhere ; also Preller, " Griech- ische Mythologie," ii, 383 ; also Baumeister, " Denkmaler des classischen Altcrthums," Art. " Niobe " ; also Botticher as above ; also Curtius, " Griechische Geschichte," vol. i, pp. 71, 72. For Pausanius's naive confession regarding the Sipylos rock, see Book I, 215. See also Texier, " Asie Mineure," pp. 265 et seq. ; also Chandler, " Travels in Greece," vol. ii, p. 80, who seems to hold to the later origin of the statue. At the end of Baumeister there is an engraving copied from Stuart which seems to show that, as to the Niobe legend, at a later period Art was allowed to help Nature. For the general subject, see Scheiffle, " Program des K. Gymnasiums," in Ell wangen, " Mythologische Parallelen," 1865. For Scandinavian and Teutonic transformation legends, see Grimm, " Deutsche Mythologie," vierte Ausg., i,

�� � NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 441

To the same stage of thought belongs the conception of hnman beings changed into trees.

But, in the historic evolution of religion and morality, while changes into stone or rock were considered as punishment, or evi- dence of divine wrath, those into trees and shrubs were frequently looked upon as rewards, or evidences of divine favor.

A very beautiful and touching form of this conception is seen in such myths as the change of Philemon into the oak, and of Baucis into the linden ; of Myrrha into the myrtle ; of Melos into the apple-tree ; of Attys into the pine ; of Adonis into the rose- tree ; and in the springing of the vine and grape from the blood of the Titans, the violet from the blood of Attys, and the hyacinth from the blood of Hyacinthus.

Thus it was, during the long ages when mankind saw every- where miracle and nowhere law, that, in the evolution of religion and morality, striking features in physical geography became con- nected with the idea of divine retribution.*

But, in the natural course of intellectual growth, thinking men began to doubt the historical accuracy of these myths and legends or, at least, to doubt all save those of the theology in which they happened to be born ; and the next step was taken when they be- gan to make comparisons between the myths and legends of differ- ent neighborhoods and countries ; so came into being the science

457 ; also Thorpe, " Northern Antiquities " ; also Friedrich, passim, especially p. 116 et seq. ; also, for a mass of very curious ones, Karl Bartsch, " Sagen, Marchen und Gebrauche aus Mecklenburg," vol. i, p 420, et seq. ; also Karl Simrock's edition of the " Edda," ninth edition, p. 319; also John Fiske, "Myths and Myth-Makers," pp. 8 and 9. On the universality of such legends and myths, see Ritter's " Erdkunde," xiv, 1098-1122. For Irish examples, see Manz, " Real Encyelopadie," art. "Stein" ; and for multitudes of examples in Brittany, see Sebillot, " Traditions de la Haute-Bretagne." For the enchanted columns at Saloniki, see latest edition of Murray's Handbook of Turkey," vol. ii, p. 711. For the legend of the angel changed into stone for neglecting to guard Adam, 6ee Weil, university librarian at Heidelberg, "Biblische Legende der Muselmanner," Frankfort-am-Main, 1845, pp. 37 and 84. For similar transformation legends in Australia and among the American Indians, see Andrew Lang, " Mythology," French translation, pp. 83 and 102 ; also his " Myth Ritual and Religion," vol. i, pp. 150 et seq., citing numerous examples from J. G. Miiller, " (Jrre- ligionen," Dorman's " Primitive Superstitions," and " Report of the Bureau of Ethnology " for 1880-'81 ; and for an African example, see account of the rock at Balon which was once a woman, in Berengcr-Feraud, " Contes populaires de la Senegambie," chap. viii. For the Weimar legend, see Lewes, " Life of Goethe," Book IV. For the myths which arose about the swindling " Cardiff Giant " in the State of New York, see especially an article by G. A. Stockwell, M. D., in " The Popular Science Monthly " for June, 1878 ; and for the " Phoenician inscription," given at length with a translation, see the Rev. Alexander McWhorter, in " The Galaxy " for July, 1872. The present writer has in his possession a mass of curious docu- ments regarding this fraud and the myths to which it gave rise, and hopes ere long to pre- pare a supplement to Dr. Stockwell's valuable paper.

  • For the view taken in Greece and Rome of transformations into trees and shrubs, see

Botticher, " Baumcultus der Alten," xix, pp. 2 and 3 ; also Ovid, " Metamorphoses,"/>as. , imi / also foregoing notes.

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of Comparative Mythology a science sure to be of vast value, be- cause, despite many stumblings and vagaries, it shows ever more and more how our religion and morality have been gradually evolved, and gives a firm basis to faith that higher planes may yet be reached.

Such a science makes the sacred books of the world more and more precious, in that it shows how they have been the necessary envelopes of our highest spiritual sustenance; how even myths and legends apparently the most puerile have been the natural husks and rinds and shells of our best ideas ; and how the atmos- phere is created in which these husks and rinds and shells in due time wither, shrivel, and fall away, so that the fruit itself may be gathered to sustain a nobler religion and a purer morality.

The coming in of Christianity contributed elements of inestima- ble value in this evolution, and, at the center of all, the thoughts, words, and life of the Master. But when, in the darkness that followed the downfall of the Roman Empire, there was developed a theology and a vast ecclesiastical power to enforce it, the most interesting chapters in this evolution of religion and morality were unfortunately removed from the domain of science.

So it came that for over eighteen hundred years it has been thought natural and right to study and compare the myths and legends arising east and west and south and north of Palestine with each other, but never with those of Palestine itself ; so it came that one of the regions most fruitful in materials for rever- ent thought and healthful comparison was held exempt from the unbiased search for truth ; so it came that, in the name of truth, truth was crippled for ages. While observation, and thought upon observation, and the organized knowledge or science which results from these, progressed as regarded the myths and legends of other countries, and an atmosphere was thus produced giving purer con- ceptions of the world and its government ; myths of that little geographical region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean re- tained possession of the civilized world in their original crude form, and have at times done much to thwart the noblest efforts of religion, morality, and civilization.

The history of myths of their growth under the earlier phases of human thought and of their decline under modern thinking is one of the most interesting and suggestive of human studies ; but, since to treat it as a whole would require volumes, I shall select only one small group, and out of this mainly a single myth one about which there can no longer be any dispute the group of myths and legends which grew upon the shore of the Dead Sea, and especially that one which grew up to account for the successive salt columns at its southwestern extremity.

The Dead Sea is about thirty-nine geographical miles in

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length and nine miles in width; it lies in a very deep fissure extending north and south, and its surface is about thirteen hun- dred feet below that of the Mediterranean. It has, therefore, no outlet, and is the receptacle for the waters of the whole system to which it belongs, including those collected by the Sea of Galilee and brought down thence by the river Jordan.

It certainly or, at least, the larger part of it ranks geologi- cally among the oldest lakes on earth. In a broad sense the re- gion is volcanic: on its shore are evidences of volcanic action which must, from the earliest period, have aroused wonder and fear, and stimulated the myth-making tendency to account for them. On the eastern side are impressive mountain-masses which have been thrown up from old volcanic vents ; mineral and hot springs abound, some of them spreading sulphurous odors ; earth- quakes have been frequent, and from time to time these cast up masses of bitumen ; concretions of sulphur and large formations of salt constantly appear.

The water which comes from the springs or oozes through the salt layers upon its shores constantly brings in various salts in solution, and, being rapidly evaporated under the hot sun and dry wind, there has been left, in the bed of the lake, a strong brine heavily charged with the usual chlorides and bromides a sort of bitter " mother liquor." This fluid has become so dense as to have a remarkable power of supporting the human body ; is of an acrid and nauseating bitterness ; and by ordinary eyes no evi- dence of life is seen in it.

Thus it was that in the lake itself, and in its surrounding shores, there was enough to make the generation of explanatory myths on a large scale inevitable.

The main northern part of the lake is very deep, the plummet having shown an abyss of thirteen hundred feet, but the south- ern end is shallow and in places marshy.

The system of which it forms a part shows a likeness to that in South America, of which the mountain lake Titicaca is the main feature ; as a receptacle for surplus waters, only rendering them by evaporation, it resembles the Caspian and many other seas ; as a sort of evaporating dish for the leachings of salt rock, and consequently holding a body of water unfit to support the higher forms of animal life, it resembles, among others, the Me- dian lake of Urumiah ; as a deposit of bitumen, it resembles the pitch lakes of Trinidad.

Striking, then, as was the Dead Sea in its appearance to pre- scientific man, there is nothing in it of extraordinary difficulty to the modern geologist or geographer.*

  • For modern views of the Dead Sea, see the Rev. Edward Robinson, D. D., " Biblical

Researches," various editions ; Lynch's " Exploring Expedition " ; De Saulcy, " Voyage

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At a very early period, myths and legends, many and long, grew up to explain features then so incomprehensible.

As the myth and legend grew up among the Greeks of a refusal of hospitality to Zeus and Hermes by the village in Phrygia, and the consequent sinking of that beautiful region with its inhabitants beneath a lake and morass, so there came a belief in a similiar offense by the people of the beautiful valley of Siddim, and the consequent sinking of that valley with its in- habitants beneath the waters of the Dead Sea. Very similar to the accounts of the saving of Philemon and Baucis are those of the saving of Lot and his family.

But the myth-making and miracle-mongering by no means ceased in ancient times ; they continued to grow through the me-

autour de la Mer Morte " ; Stanley's " Palestine and Syria " ; Schaff's " Through Bible Lands " ; and other travelers hereafter quoted. For good "photogravures" showing the character of the whole region, see the portfolio forming part of De Luynes's monumental " Voyage d'Exploration." For geographical summaries, see Reclus, " La Terre," Paris, 1870, pp. 832-848 ; Ritter, " Erdkunde," volumes devoted to Palestine and especially as supple- mented in Gage's translation with additions ; Reclus, " Nouvelle Geographie Universelle," ix, 736, where a small map is given presenting difference in depth between the two ends of the lake, of which so much was made theologically before Lartet. For still better maps, see De Saulcy, and especially De Luynes, " Voyage d'Exploration " (portfolio). For very interesting panoramic views, see last edition of Canon Tristram's " Land of Israel," p. 635. For the geology, see Lartet, in his reports to the French Geographical Society, and especially in vol. iii of De Luynes's work, where there is an admirable geological map with sections, etc. ; also Ritter ; also Sir J. W. Dawson's " Egypt and Syria," published by the Religious Tract Society ; also Rev. Cunningham Geikie, D. D., " Geology of Palestine " : and for pictures showing salt formation, Tristram, as above. For the meteorology, see Vignes, " Report to De Luynes," pp. 65 et seq. For chemistry of the Dead Sea, see as above, and Terreil's report, given in Gage's Ritter, vol. iii, Appendix 2, and tables in De Luynes's third volume. For zoology of the Dead Sea, as to entire absence of life in it, see all earlier trav- elers ; as to presence of lower forms of life, see Ehrenberg's microscopic examinations in Gage's Ritter. See also reports in third volume of De Luynes. For botany of the Dead Sea, and especially regarding " apples of Sodom," see Dr. Lortet's "Palestine," p. 412; also Reclus, " Nouvelle Geographie," ix, 737. Also for photographic representations of them, see portfolio forming part of De Luynes's work, plate 27. On Strabo's very perfect description, etc., see lib. xvi, II, 44; also Fallmerayer, " Werke," pp. 177, 178. For names and positions of a large number of salt lakes in various parts of the world more or less resembling the Dead Sea, see De Luynes, iii, 242 et seq. For Trinidad " pitch-lakes," found by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595, see Langegg, "El Dorado," Part I, p. 103, and Part II, p. 101 ; also Reclus, Ritter, et al. For the general subject, see Schenkel, " Bible Lexicon," sub voc. " Todtes Meer," an excellent summary. The description of the Dead Sea in Lenormant's great history is utterly unworthy of him, and must have been thrown together from old notes after his death. It is amazing to see in such a work the old su- perstition that birds attempting to fly over the sea are suffocated. See Lenormant, " His- toire ancienne de l'Orient," edition of 1888, vol. vi, p. 112. For the absorption and adop- tion of foreign myths and legends by the Jews, see Baring-Gould, " Myths," etc., p. 390. For the views of Greeks and Romans, see especially Tacitus, " History," Book V, Pliny, and Strabo, in whose remarks are the germs of many of the medireval myths. For very curious examples of these, see Baierus, " De Excidio Sodomae," Halle, 1705, passim.

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diseval and modern period until they have quietly withered away in the light of modern scientific investigation, leaving to us the religious and moral truths they inclose.

It would be interesting to trace this whole group of myths : their origin in times prehistoric; their development in Greece and Rome ; their culmination during the ages of faith ; and their disappearance in the age of science. It would be especially in- structive to note the conscientious efforts to prolong their life by making futile compromises between science and theology regard- ing them ; but I shall mention this main group only incidentally, confining myself almost entirely to the one above named the most remarkable of all the myth which grew about the salt pil- lars of Usdum.

I select this mainly because it involves only elementary prin- ciples, requires no abstruse reasoning, and because all controversy regarding it is ended. There is certainly now no theologian with a reputation to lose who will venture to revive the idea regarding it which was sanctioned for hundreds, nay thousands, of years by theology, was based on Scripture, and was held by the universal Church until our own century.

The main feature of the salt region of Usdum is a low range of hills near the southwest corner of the Dead Sea, extending in a southeasterly direction for about five miles, and made up mainly of salt rock. This rock is soft and friable, and, under the influ- ence of the heavy winter rains, it has been, without doubt, from a period long before human history, as it is now, cut ever into new shapes, and especially into pillars or columns, which sometimes bear a resemblance to the human form.

A clergyman who visited this spot about ten years since speaks of the appearance of this salt range as follows :

" Fretted by fitful showers and storms, its ridge is exceedingly uneven, its sides carved out and constantly changing ; . . . and each traveler might have a new pillar of salt to wonder over at intervals of a few years." *

Few things could be more certain than that, in the indolent

  • As to the substance of the " pillars " or "statues" or "needles " of salt at Usdum,

many travelers speak of it as "marl and salt." Irby and Mangles, in their " Travels in Egypt, Nubia, Syria, and the Holy Land," chapter vii, call it " salt and hardened sand." The citation as to frequent carving out of new " pillars " is from the " Travels in Palestine" of the Rev. H. F. Osborn, D. D. See also Palmer, " Desert of the Exodus," ii, pp. 478, 479. For engravings of the salt pillar at different times compare that given by Lynch in 1 848, when it appeared as a column forty feet high, with that given by Palmer as the frontis- piece to his " Desert of the Exodus," Cambridge, England, 1871, when it was small and " does really bear a curious resemblance to an Arab woman with a child upon her shoulders " ; and this again with the picture of the salt formation at Usdum given by Canon Tristram, at whose visit there was neither " pillar " nor " statue." See " The Land of Israel," by H. B. Tristram, D. D., F. R. S., London, 1882, p. 324.

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dream-life of the East, myths and legends would grow up to ac- count for this as for other strange appearances in all that region. The question which a religious Oriental put to himself in ancient times at Usdum was substantially that which his descendant to- day puts to himself at Kosseir : " Why is this region thus blasted?" " whence these pillars of salt ? " or " whence these blocks of granite ? " " what aroused the vengeance of Jehovah or of Allah to work these miracles of desolation ? "

And, just as Maxime Du Camp recorded the answer of the modern Shemite at Kosseir, so the compilers of the Jewish sacred books recorded the answer of the ancient Shemite at the Dead Sea ; just as Allah at Kosseir blasted the land and transformed the melons into bowlders which are seen to this day, so Jehovah at Usdum blasted the land and transformed Lot's wife into a pillar of salt which is seen to this day.

No more difficulty was encountered in the formation of the Lot legend, to account for that rock resembling the human form, than in the formation of the Niobe legend, which accounted for a supposed human resemblance in the rock at Sipylos ; it grew up just as we have seen thousands of similar myths and legends grow up about striking natural appearances in every home of the human race. Being thus consonant with the universal view re- garding the relation of physical geography to the divine govern- ment, it became a treasure of the Jewish nation and of the Chris- tian Church a treasure not only to be guarded against all hostile intrusion, but to be increased, as we shall see, by the myth-mak- ing powers of Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans for thousands of years.

The spot where the myth originated was carefully kept in mind; indeed, it could not escape, for in that place alone was constantly seen the phenomena which caused the myth. We have a steady chain of testimony through the ages all pointing to the salt pillar as the irrefragable evidence of divine judgment. That great theological test of truth the dictum of St. Vincent of Lerins would certainly prove that the pillar was Lot's wife ; for it was believed so to be by Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans from the earliest period down to a time almost within present memory " always, everywhere, and by all." It would stand per- fectly the ancient test insisted upon by Cardinal Newman, " Se- curus judicat orbis terrarum."

For, ever since the earliest days of Christianity, the identity of the salt pillar with Lot's wife has been universally held and supported by passages in Genesis, in St. Luke's Gospel, and in the Second Epistle of St. Peter coupled with a passage in the book of the Wisdom of Solomon, which to this day, by a majority in the Christian Church, is believed to be inspired, and from which are

�� � NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 447

specially cited the words, " A standing pillar of salt is a monu- ment of an unbelieving soul." *

Never was chain of belief more continuous. In the first cent- ury of the Christian era Josephus refers to the miracle, and de- clares regarding the statue, " I have seen it, and it remains at this day " ; and Clement, Bishop of Rome, one of the most revered fathers of the Church, noted for the moderation of his statements, expresses a similar certainty, declaring that he knew the miracu- lous statue to be still standing.

In the second century that great father of the Church, bishop and martyr, Irenseus, not only vouched for it, but gave his ap- proval to the belief that the soul of Lot's wife still lingered in the statue, giving it a sort of organic life ; thus virtually began in the Church that amazing development of the legend which we shall see taking various forms through the middle ages the story that the salt statue exercised certain physical functions which in these more delicate days can not be alluded to save under cover of a learned language.

This addition to the legend, which in these signs of life, as in other things, is developed almost exactly on the same lines with the legend of the Niobe statue in the rock of Mount Sipylos and the legends of human beings transformed into bowlders in various mythologies, was for centuries regarded as an additional confir- mation of revealed truth.

In the third century the myth burst into still richer bloom in a poem long ascribed to Tertullian. In this poem more miracu- lous characteristics of the statue are revealed. It could not be washed away by rains; it could not be overthrown by winds; any wound made upon it was miraculously healed; and the earlier statements as to its physical functions were amplified in sonorous Latin verse.

With this appeared a new legend regarding the Dead Sea : it became universally believed, and we find it repeated throughout the whole mediseval period, that the bitumen could only be dis- solved by such fluids as in the processes of animated nature came from the statue.

The legend thus amplified we shall find dwelt upon by pious travelers and monkish chroniclers for hundreds of years : so it came to be more and more treasured by the universal Church, and held more and more firmly " always, everywhere, and by all."

In the two following centuries we have an overwhelming mass of additional authority for the belief that the very statue of salt

  • For the usual biblical citations, see Genesis xix, 26 ; St. Luke xvii, 32 ; Second Peter

ii, 6. For the citation from " Wisdom," see x, V. For the account of the transformation of Lot's wife put into its proper relations with the Jchovistic and Elohistic documents, see Lenormant's " La Genese," Paris, 1883, pp. 53, 199, and 317, 318.

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into which Lot's wife was transformed was still existing. In the fourth the continuance of the statue was vouched for by St. Sil- via, who visited the place : though she could not see it, she was told by the Bishop of Segor that it had been there some time before, and she concluded that it had been temporarily covered by the sea. In both the fourth and fifth centuries such great doctors in the Church as St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Cyril of Jerusalem agreed in this belief and statement ; hence it was, doubtless, that the Hebrew word which is trans- lated in the authorized English version " pillar," was translated in the Vulgate, which the vast majority of Christians believe divinely inspired, by the word " statue " ; we shall find this fact insisted upon by theologians arguing in behalf of the statue, as a result and monument of the miracle, for over fourteen hundred years afterward.*

About the middle of the sixth century Antoninus Martyr visited the Dead Sea region and described it, but curiously re- versed a simple truth in these words : " Nor do sticks or straws float there, nor can a man swim, but whatever is cast into it sinks to the bottom." As to the statue of Lot's wife, he threw doubt upon its miraculous renewal, but testified that it was still standing.

In the seventh century the Targum of Jerusalem not only testified that the salt pillar at Usdum was once Lot's wife, but declared that she must retain that form until the general resur- rection. In the seventh century, too, Bishop Arculf traveled to the Dead Sea, and his work was added to the treasures of the Church. He develops the legend, and especially that part of it given by Josephus, greatly. The bitumen that floats upon the sea " resembles gold and the form of a bull or camel " ; " birds can not live near it " ; and " the very beautiful apples " which grow there, when plucked, " burn and are reduced to ashes, and smoke as if they were still burning."

In the eighth century the Venerable Bede takes these state- ments of Arculf and his predecessors, binds them together in his work on " The Holy Places," and gives the whole mass of myths and legends an enormous impulse, f

In the tenth century new force is given to it by the pious Mos-

  • See Josephus, "Antiquities," 1, 1, chap, ii ; Clement, "Epist.," 1; Cyril, "Hieros.

Catech.," six ; Chrysostom, " Horn.," xviii, xliv in Genes. ; Irenaeus, lib. iv, c. xxxi, or cap. i, p. 354, edition Oxon., 1702. For St. Silvia, see " S. Silvias Aquitana? Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta," Roma?, 1887, p. 55, also edition of 1885, p. 25. For legends of signs of con- tinued life in bowlders and stones into which human beings have been transformed for sin, see Karl Bartsch, " Sagen," etc., vol. ii, pp. 420 et seq.

\ For Antoninus Martyr, see Tobler's edition of his work in the " Itinera," i, p. 100, Geneva, 1877. For the Targum of Jerusalem, see citat. in Quaresmius, "Terra? Sancta? Elucidatio," Peregrinatio vi, cap. xiv ; new Venice edition. For Arculf, see Tobler. For

�� � NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 449

lein, Mukadassi. Speaking of the town of Segor, near the salt region, he says that the proper translation of its name is " Hell " ; and of the lake he says, " Its waters are hot, even as though the place stood over hell-fire."

In the crusading period, immediately following, all the legends hurst forth more brilliantly than ever.

The first of these new travelers who makes careful statements is Fulk of Chartres, who in 1100 accompanied King Baldwin to the Dead Sea and saw many wonders ; but, though he visited the salt region of Usdum, he makes no mention of the salt pillar : evi- dently he had fallen on evil times ; the older statues had probably been washed away, and no new one had happened to be washed out of the rocks just at that period.

But his misfortune was more than made up by the triumphant experience of a far more famous traveler, half a century later Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela.

Rabbi Benjamin finds new evidences of miracle in the Dead Sea, and develops to a still higher point the myth and legend of the salt statue of Lot's wife, enriching the world with the state- ment that it was steadily and miraculously renewed ; that, though the cattle of the region licked its surface, it never grew smaller. Again a thrill of joy went through the monasteries and pulpits of Christendom at this increasing "evidence of the truth of Scripture."

Toward the end of the thirteenth century there appeared in Palestine a traveler superior to most before or since Count Burchard, monk of Mount Sion. He had the advantage of know- ing something of Arabic, and his writings show him to have been observant and thoughtful. No statue of Lot's wife appears to have been washed clean of the salt rock during his visit, but he takes it for granted that the Dead Sea is " the mouth of hell," and that the vapor rising from it is the smoke from Satan's furnaces.

These ideas seem to have become part of the common stock, for Ernoul, who traveled to the Dead Sea during the same century, always speaks of it as the " Sea of Devils."

Near the beginning of the fourteenth century came a traveler of far wider influence Sir John Maundeville.

In the various editions of the book ascribed to him, myths and legends of the Dead Sea and of the pillar of salt old and new burst forth into wonderful luxuriance. He brings news of a woman changed into an enormous dragon ; of a monster who be- sought a monk to cast out the devil from him, and who had horns on his head, which horns were shown Maundeville by the monk

Bede, see his " De Locis Sanctis " in Tobler's " Itinera," i, p. 228. For an admirable statement of the mediaeval theological view of scientific research, see Eicken, " Geschichte, etc., der Mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung," Stuttgart, 18S7, chap. vi. vol. xxxvi. 29

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who told him the story. He gives full details of the phoenix rising from its own ashes. But all culminates at the Dead Sea.

He tells us that masses of fiery matter are every day thrown up from it as large as a horse ; that, though it contains no living thing, it has been shown that men thrown into it can not die ; and finally, as if to prove the worthlessness of devout testimony to the miraculous, he says : " And whoever throws a piece of iron therein, it floats ; and whoever throws a feather therein, it sinks to the bottom ; and, because that is contrary to nature, I was not willing to believe it until I saw it."

He of course mentions Lot's wife, and says that the pillar of salt " stands there to-day," and " has a right salty taste."

Great injustice has been done to Maundeville in holding him a liar of the first magnitude. Never was man further from the thought of lying. He simply abhorred skepticism, and thought it meritorious to believe all pious legends. The ideal Maundeville was a man of overmastering faith, and resembled Tertullian in believing things " because they are impossible " ; he was entirely conscientious; the solemn ending of the book shows that he listened, observed, and wrote under the deepest conviction, and those who re-edited his book were probably just as honest in add- ing the later stories of pious travelers.

The " Travels of Sir John Maundeville," thus appealing to the popular heart, were most widely read in the monasteries and re- peated among the people. Innumerable copies were made in manuscript, and finally in print, and so the old myths received a new life.*

In the fifteenth century wonders were increased. In 1418 we have the Lord of Caumont, who makes a pilgrimage and gives us

  • For Fulk of Chartres and Crusading travelers generally, see Bongar's " Gesta Dei per

Francos," passim ; also histories of the Crusades by Wilkins, Poujoulat, and others. See also Robinson, "Biblical Researches," ii, 109, and Tobler, " Bibliographia Geographica Pales- tine," 1867, p. 12. For Benjamin of Tudela's statement, see Wright's " Collection of Travels in Palestine," p. 84, and Asher's edition of Benjamin of Tudela's travels, vol i, pp. 71, 72 ; also Charton, vol. i, p. 180. For Borchard or Burchard, see full text in the. "Reyssebuch dess Heyligen Landes"; also Grynseus, "Nov. Orbis," Basil., 1B82, folio 298, 329. For Ernoul, see his " L'Estat de la Cite de Ilierusalem," in Michelin and Raynaud, " Itineraires Francaises au 12me et lome Siecles." For Petrus Diaconus, see " Petri Diaconi de Locis Sanctis," edited by Gamurrini, Rome, 1887, pp. 12fi, 127. For Maundeville I have compared several editions, especially those in the " Reyssebuch," in Canisius and in Wright, with Ilalliwell's reprint and with the rare Strasburg edition of 1484 in the Cornell Univer- sity Library : the whole statement regarding the experiment with iron and feathers is given differently in different copies. The statement that he saw the feathers sink and the iron Bwim is made in the Reyssebuch edition, Frankfort, 1584. The story, like the saints' legends, evidently grew as time went on, but is none the less interesting as showing the general credulity. Since writing the above I have been glad to find my view of Maunde- ville's honesty confirmed by the Rev. Dr. Robinson, and by Mr. Gage in his edition of Hit- ter's "Palestine."

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a statement which is the result of the theological reasoning of centuries, and especially interesting as a typical example of the theological method in contrast with the scientific. He could not understand how the blessed waters of the Jordan could "be allowed to mingle with the accursed waters of the Dead Sea. In spite, then, of the eye of sense, he beheld the water with the eye of faith, and calmly announced that the Jordan water passes through the sea, but that the two masses of water are not mingled. As to the salt statue of Lot's wife, he declares it to be still existing ; and, copying a table of indulgences granted by the Church to pious pilgrims, he puts down the visit to the salt statue as giving an indulgence of seven years.

Toward the end of the century we have another traveler yet more influential, Bernard of Breydenbach, Dean of Mainz. His book of travels was published in 1486, at the famous press of Schoeffer, and in various translations it was spread through Europe, exercising an influence wide and deep. His first im- portant notice of the Dead Sea is as follows : " In this, Tirus the serpent is found, and from him the Tiriac medicine is made. He is blind, and so full of venom that there is no remedy for his bite except cutting off the bitten part. He can only be taken by strik- ing him and making him angry ; then his venom flies into his head and tail." Breydenbach calls the Dead Sea " the chimney of hell," and repeats the old story as to the miraculous solvent for its bitumen. He, too, makes the statement that the holy water of the Jordan does not mingle with the accursed water of the infernal sea ; but increases the miracle which Caumont had an- nounced by saying that, although the waters appear to come together, the Jordan is really absorbed in the earth before it reaches the sea.

As to Lot's wife, various travelers at that time had various fortunes. Some, like Caumont and Breydenbach, took her con- tinued existence for granted ; some, like Count John of Solms, saw her and were greatly edified ; some, like Hans Werli, tried to find her and could not, but, like St. Silvia, a thousand years before, were none the less edified by the idea that, for some inscru- table purpose, the sea had been allowed to hide her from them ; some found her larger than they expected, even forty feet high, as was the salt pillar which happened to be standing at the visit of Commander Lynch in 1848 ; but this only added a new proof to the miracle, for the text was remembered, " There were giants in those days."

Out of the mass of works of pilgrims during the fifteenth cent- ury I select just one more as typical of the theological view then dominant, and this is the noted book of Felix Fabri, a preaching friar of Ulm.

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I select him, because even so eminent an authority in our own time as Dr. Edward Robinson declares him to have been the most thorough, thoughtful, and enlightened traveler of that century.

Fabri is greatly impressed by the wonders of the Dead Sea, and typical of his honesty influenced by faith is his account of the Dead Sea fruit ; he describes it with almost perfect accuracy, but adds the statement that when mature it is " filled with ashes and cinders."

As to the salt statue, he says : " We saw the place between the sea and Mount Segor, but could not see the statue itself because we were too far distant to see anything of human size ; but we saw it with firm faith, because we believed Scripture, which speaks of it ; and we were filled with wonder."

To sustain absolute faith in the statue he reminds his readers that " God is able even of these stones to raise up seed to Abra- ham," and goes into a long argument, discussing such transforma- tions as those of King Atlas and Pygmalion's statue, with a mul- titude of others, winding up with the case, given in the miracles of St. Jerome, of a heretic who was changed into a log of wood, which was then burned.

He gives a statement of the Hebrews that Lot's wife received her peculiar punishment because she had refused to add salt to the food of the angels when they visited her, and he preaches a short sermon in which he says that, as salt is the condiment of food, so the salt statue of Lot's wife " gives us a condiment of wisdom." *

There were indeed many discrepancies in the testimony of travelers regarding the salt pillar so many, in fact, that at a later period the learned Dom Calmet acknowledged that they shook his belief in the whole matter ; but, during this earlier time, under the complete sway of the theological spirit, these difficulties only gave new and more glorious opportunities for faith.

For, if a considerable interval occurred between the washing of one salt pillar out of existence and the washing of another into existence, the idea arose that the statue, by virtue of the soul which still remained in it, had departed on some mysterious excur- sion ; did it happen that one statue was washed out one year in one place and another statue another year in another place, this difficulty was surmounted by believing that Lot's wife still walked about ; did it happen that a salt column was undermined by the rains and fell, this was believed to be but another sign of life ; did

  • For Bernhard of Breydenbach, see marked pages in the Latin edition, Mentz, 1486, in

the White collection, Cornell University, also in German edition in the " Reyssebuch " ; for John of Solrns, Werli, and the like, see the " Reyssebuch," which gives a full text of their travels. For Fabri (Schmid), see, for his value, Robinson, also Tobler, " Bibliographia," 53 et seq. ; and for texts the "Reyssebuch," 122b ct seq., but best the "Fratris Fel. Fabri Evagatorium," ed. Hassler, Stuttgart, 1813, iii, 172 ct seq.

�� � a pillar happen to be covered in part by the sea, this was enough to arouse the belief that the statue from time to time descended into the Dead Sea depths possibly to satisfy that old fatal curiosity regarding her former neighbors ; did some smaller block of salt happen to be washed out near the statue, it was believed that a household dog, also transformed into salt, had followed her back from beneath the deep ; did more statues than one appear at one time, that simply made the mystery more impressive.

In facts now so easy of scientific explanation the theologians found wonderful food for discussion.

One great question among them was whether the soul of Lot's wife did really remain in the statue. On one side it was insisted that, as Holy Scripture declares that Lot's wife was changed into a pillar of salt, and as she was necessarily made up of a soul and a body, the soul must have become part of the statue. This argu- ment was clinched by citing that passage in the Book of Wisdom in which the salt pillar is declared to be still standing as " the monument of an unbelieving soul." On the other hand, it was insisted that the soul of the woman must have been incorporeal and immortal, and hence could not have been changed into a sub- stance corporeal and mortal. Naturally, to this it would be answered that the salt pillar was no more corporeal than the ordinary materials of the human body, and that it had been made miraculously immortal, and that " with God all things are possi- ble." Thus long vistas of theological discussion were opened.*

As we enter the sixteenth century the Dead Sea myths, and especially the legends of Lot's wife, are still growing. In 1507 Father Anselm of the Minorites declares that the sea sometimes covers the feet of the statue, sometimes the legs, sometimes the whole body.

In 1555 Gabriel Giraudet, priest at Puy, journeyed through Palestine. His faith was robust, and his attitude toward the myths of the Dead Sea is seen by his declaration that its waters are so foul that one can smell them at a distance of three leagues ; that straw, hay, or feathers thrown into them will sink, but that iron and other metals will float ; that criminals have been kept in them three or four days and could not drown. As to Lot's wife, he says that he found her " lying there, her back toward heaven, converted into salt stone ; for I touched her, scratched her, and put a piece of her into my mouth, and she tasted salt."

At the center of all these legends we see, then, the idea that, though there were no living beasts in the Dead Sea, the people of the overwhelmed cities were still living beneath its waters,

  • For a brief statement of the main arguments for and against the idea that the soul

of Lot's wife remained within the salt statue, see Cornelius a Lapide, " Commentarius in Pentateuchum," Antwerp, 1697, chap. xix. probably in hell; that there was life in the salt statue; and that it was still curious regarding its old neighbors.

Hence such travelers in the latter years of the century as Count Albert of Löwenstein and Prince Nicholas Radzivill are not at all weakened in faith by failing to find the statue; what the former is capable of believing is seen by his statement that in a certain cemetery at Cairo during one night in the year the dead thrust forth their feet, hands, limbs, and even rise wholly from their graves.

There seemed, then, no limit to these pious beliefs. The idea that there is merit in credulity, with the love of myth-making and miracle-mongering, constantly made them larger. Nor did the Protestant Reformation, which now came in, diminish them at first; it rather strengthened them and fixed them more firmly in the popular mind. They seemed destined to last forever. How they were thus strengthened at first, under Protestantism, and how they were finally dissolved away in the atmosphere of scientific thought, will be shown in the following chapter.[1]


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  1. For Father Anselm, see his "Descriptio Terræ Sanctæ," in H. Canisius, "Thesaurus Monument. Eccles.," Basnage edition, Amsterdam, 1725, vol. iv, p. 788. For Giraudet, see his "Discours du Voyage d'Oultre Mer . . . et autres Lieux de la Terre Saincte," Paris, 1585, p. 50a. For Radziwill and Löwenstein, see the "Reyssebuch," especially p. 198a.