Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/481

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
The Legend of Merlin.

the foundations they came upon the waters of the deep, which surged up and threatened to drown the world, until the advice was given to David (Solomon) to write the wonder-working name of God upon a stone and to place it upon the mouth of the waters of the deep. They would sink and the stone would close the orifice and thus save the world.[1] Yet another legend is current in Europe, due to the teaching of the Elucidarium, that curious handbook of the Middle Ages into which all the natural science of the period with all its fantastic embellishments flowed, and from which many a scholar of the time drew his information about the phenomena of nature. We are told there, in the cosmography of the world, that the earth rests upon water, the water upon a mighty rock, the rock upon two whales, and when these whales move there is an earthquake. There is yet another source, and this approaches the Merlin legend too closely not to be considered the true source of the history of the two fighting dragons. This also is found in a book with which every priest in olden and modern times might be expected to be quite familiar, for it is nothing else than the famous dream of Mordecai in the Apocryphal additions to the book of Esther. The passage in question runs as follows: I am giving here the rendering of the more elaborate Aramaic version (De Rossi),[2] corresponding to XI, 5-11 Greek. "Behold there was a great noise and tumult and the voice of terrible uproar upon the whole land and terror and fear seized all the inhabitants of the earth; and behold there appeared two mighty dragons and they came one against the other to fight and all the nations of the earth trembled at the noise of their fury. And there was a small nation between

  1. Talmud; Treat. Succah, f. 53 a, b.
  2. J. B. De Rossi, Spec. Var. Cect. et Chald. Essteris addimenta, ed. 2 (Tistering, 1783), p. 122 ff.