Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/26

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14
Presidential Address.

been adopted by any people until they had worked out a theory of the future state which could in no way have been based upon evidence, and therefore must be the result of pure imagination. That imagination must have been powerful indeed which led willing victims to submit to be slaughtered for such a purpose. The custom could hardly have been maintained without the establishment of a class of men professionally bound to urge it upon the people, and to stimulate their imagination with the promise of future joy in reward for the present sacrifice. By this means imagination was developed into belief.

5. An example of this is afforded by what Herodotus tells of the Thracians who dwelt above the Crestonæans. 'Each man has several wives. When he dies, a great contest arises among the wives, and violent disputes among their friends, on this point—which of them was most loved by the husband. She who is adjudged to have been so, and is so honoured, having been extolled by both men and women, is slain on the tomb by her own nearest relative, and when slain is buried with her husband. The others deem this a great misfortune, for it is the utmost disgrace to them." (Terpsichore, 5 ed. Gary, and see Valerius Maximus, ii. 6.)

6. The other form of this practice, the immolation of slaves, is illustrated by an extract from the Book of Ballymote, a MS. belonging to the Royal Irish Academy (fol. I45<5(^), which is translated as follows by Professor Sullivan in his introduction to O'Curry's Lectures on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish (vol. i., p. cccxx): "Fiachra then brought 50 hostages with him from Munster .... and he went forth then on his way to Temar. When .... he reached Forud .... in Meath, Fiachra died of his wounds there. His Leacht was made, and his Fert was raised, and his Cluiche Caintech was ignited, and his Ogam name was written, and the fifty hostages which he brought from the South were buried alive around the Fert