Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/373

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The European Sky-God. 325

the myth of Pelops, who according to Pindar^ was caught up to heaven, but according to the common version was cut to pieces and boiled as food for the gods. In such cases it is, of course, the crude and ugly tale that is the better founded ; and I sadly fear that the story of Romulus being rapt away in a thunderstorm was a pious fiction designed to conceal a far more horrible fate. Two other early kings, Aeneas and Latinus, vanished in like manner ; and it is highly significant that each of them was identified after his death with Jupiter.^ In the case of Aeneas, side by side with the euphemistic statement that he had been translated heavenwards in a thunderstorm, there was a substantial tradition that he had been drowned in the river Numicius, on whose banks he was offering a sacrifice.^ Very possibly the sacrifice in question was the sacrifice of himself. Again, Titus Tatius was said to have gone with Romulus to Lavinium, in order to attend a certain sacrifice incumbent upon the kings, and there to have been set upon by the comrades and relatives of some murdered Laviniate envoys and slain by them " upon the altar with the sacrificial knives and spits."*

It would seem, then, that the Italians, no less than the Greeks, safeguarded the physical competence of their

^ Find. 01. I. 38 ff. Pelias too was cut to pieces and boiled by his daughters, who had been told by Medea that they ?night thus restore to their father his youthful vigour (Roscher Lex. iii. 1848 ff. ) — a circumstance which throws a flood of light on the motive of all these ritual murders and well accords with the theory propounded by Dr. Frazer ( Golden Bough - ii. 5 f. ).

^ Supra p. 286.

^Tib. 2. 5. 43 f., Serv. in Verg. Aen. i. 259, 4. 620, 7. 150, Dionys. ant. Rom. I. 64. [Aur. Vict.] orig. gent. Rom. 14. 3 f. adds that he was after- wards seen in full armour on the river-bank and therefore believed to have become immortal.

^Dionys. ant. Kom. 2. 52. Dr. Frazer kindly drew my attention to this passage ; and further suggests that the death of Metius Fuffetius, the dictator of Alba, who at the bidding of TuUus Hostilius was torn asunder by a couple of two-horse chariots {ib. 3. 30), bears some resemblance to the death of Hippolytus-Virbius, who was "furiis direptus equorum" { 3. 265).