Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/221

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Reviews. 199

historical and the mythical elements in heroic legend is in reality far less efficacious than he seems to imagine.

The effect of admitting his postulate — the pre-existence of a mythological schema — is of no concern to Dr. Jeremias' immediate argument, so he does not consider it. He would doubtless hold with me that it is strongly adverse to certain neo- euhemeristic theories which have of late become rather fashion- able with English students of the anthropological school. The numerous and undoubted cases of actual deification, noted more particularly in India and Indo-China, now of an English general, now of a native chief, now of a notorious brigand or saint, have affected our views of the status of the mythical dramatis persoiicz. But if all that this deificatory process implies is the providing of a new tenant for a structure of immemorial antiquity, I cannot see that it accounts for the origin of that structure, or for those singular features which are alike its distinguishing characteristic and its standing puzzle. To revert to Dr. Jeremias' analogy : we know that the Barbarossa myth is older not only than the late Emperor William, but than his Hohenstaufen predecessor. Why should we assume that 3,000 or 4,000 years ago an actual man originated, or even greatly modified the myth, more than was the case in the twelfth or the nineteenth century of our era ? Yet such an assumption is not seldom tacitly made, and is, in some mysterious way, regarded as advancing our comprehension of the myth, when in reality, were it valid, it would leave that myth more incomprehensible than ever. The nature of the mythological schefjia, the sanction of its persistent vitality, its enduring attraction, these are the vital problems of mythological study.

Their consideration leads me to the second point raised by Dr. Jeremias' argument, raised slightly also and en passant, but definitely and with a clear understanding of its significance and import. As he himself insists, the special mythological concep- tions which, following Winckler, he favours, the special mode in which he figures the formation and persistence of the mythological sche?na involve a return to the point of view, immensely widened and deepened it is true, of the late eighteenth century, of men like Volney and Dupuis, and involve also the denial of the evolutionary hypothesis accepted by most English students of the history of religion. To put it briefly, the Early-Eastern (Dr. Jeremias prefers this term to Babylonian) conception of the Universe as expressed