Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/66

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54 ^/^<^ Voice of the Stone of Destiny.

matical in regard to Laertes, his father, who was still alive; while, if Ulysses were dead, it would seem that Telemachus, his son, would only have the first, but by no means an in- defeasible, claim. As Mr. Crooke has pointed out, it results from the interview between Telemachus and the wooers in the first book of the Odyssey, that some kind of divine nomination should appoint the king, and that the choice might fall, not on Telemachus, but on another of the Achaeans in sea-girt Ithaca.^ It is dangerous to read into the poem what is not expressed. The poet is describing an age already mythical, though no doubt he has embodied considerable fragments of actual custom in the represen- tation. He does not detail the process of appointment of king. Consequently, all we can safely say (and that on the assumption that here we have one of the fragments of actual custom) is that the manners and whole atmosphere of the poem correspond with a stage of culture in which the will of the gods would be ascertained by augury. In this connection it may not be irrelevant to refer to the early traditions of Rome. The quarrel between Romulus and Remus concerned not merely the site of the city^ but also the founder after whose name it should be called — in other words, the royal dignity. It was settled by an augury taken from the flight of vultures. Numa, the successor of Romulus, though elected, took care to assure himself by auguries that the gods approved of the choice. It must be remembered that the legends, as we have them, took shape under the republic when the ordinary human process of election had been long established. The habit thus formed probably affected them; and 1 think we are warranted in suspecting that if we could recover them at a prior stage, we should find the appointment of king resting on the will of the gods and ascertained by divination.

' Folk-I.ore, vol. ix., p. 13. Mr. Crooke does not refer to the speech of Eurymachus immediately following that of Telemachus, which confirms what has been said on this subject Ly Anlinous and Telemachus.