Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/365

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The European Sky -God. 317

darkened ; ^ and, among the portents that accompanied the death of JuHus Caesar, Plutarch"' mentions "the dimness of the sun, whose orb rose pale and dull throughout the whole of that year and sent down but a weak and feeble heat." The rayed crown worn by Augustus and Claudius after death, by Nero and his successors during their lifetime, was the visible emblem of the sun-god, and was certainly borrowed from representa- tions of that deity.^ Before the birth of Augustus his father Octavius dreamt that a sunbeam issued from the womb of his mother Atia. At a later date he dreamt again that he saw his son in a laurelled chariot drawn by twelve white horses : he was of superhuman size and adorned with a rayed crown, a thunderbolt, a sceptre, and the garments of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. One night the infant Augustus vanished, and next day was found on the top of a high tower over against the sunrise.* Commodus too aped the sun-god. " His hair," says Herodian,^ "was by nature yellow and curly, so that whenever he walked in the sunlight there flashed from it a gleam as of fire, and some supposed that he was powdered with gold dust on his way, while others regarded him as a god, affirming that a heavenly light shone about his head." A small bronze coin of Carus shows face to face the radiate head of the emperor and the radiate head of the sun-god.^ This conception of the emperor as a solar power may account for the fact that the Antonines and their successors used to have perpetual fire carried in front of them wherever they went.^

^Cic. de rep. i. 25, Dionys. ant. Rom. 2. 56, Plot. vit. Cam. i},, de fort. Rom. 8, alib.

'^Plut. vit. Caes. 69, cp. Verg. georg. i. 466 ft"., Tib. 2. 5. 75 f., Ov. 7net. 15. 785 f.

^ Beurlier Le culte rendu aux evipereiirs roinains p. 48 ff.

  • Suet. vit. Aug. 94. ■'^ Herod, i. 18. ®Duruy I/ist. 0/ Rome vi. 525.

■'Beurlier op. cit. p. 50 f., Preller -Jordan Rom. Myth. ii. 441 f.