Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/289

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Greek Votive Offerings. 263

essence of such a gift is its voluntary character ; indeed, Dr. Rouse defines a votive offering as " whatever is given of freewill to a being conceived as superhuman " (p. i). The gift may be customary e.g. the first fruits, or of fixed pro- portion, eg. the tithe ; but it must not be compulsory, or it becomes a tax. The motive of the giver is commonly gratitude, sometimes propitiation or prayer^ very rarely fear. Dr. Rouse cites one case only of this last, a relief representing the Dioscuri, which bears the inscription (Rohl inscrr. Gr. antiq. 62 a) —

TcvSapcSdv {sic) SlSv/j,(ov /xdviv oTTiSSo/z-eyo?.

" Pleistiadas dedicated me as an offering to the Dioscuri, because he feared the wrath of the twin sons of Tyndarus." From the fourth century B.C. onwards we can trace the growing influence of two other elements, which tend to rob the gift of its moral worth. One of these is compulsion on the part of the god ; the other is a desire for self-advertise- ment on the part of the worshipper. Having thus determined the nature of a votive offering, and having further insisted that no limits can be set to the occasions on which such offerings may be made or to the things that may be so offered. Dr. Rouse proceeds to classify the objects that in point of fact are known to have been offered. This classification embraces "two main divisions : I. Material: things which are given for their own value ; and II. Ideal: things which are given for what they imply." But we are warned that any object of the first division may on occasion be found in the second, and that the same object may be dedicated under both heads.

I. The dedication of material things implies a somewhat crude conception of the deity ; for they are regarded as so much payment for favours thereby secured. They include ( I ) such things as a god would need if he were a man. He mustj for example, have his house and grounds, with the