Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/150

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138 Back-Footed Beings.

The description of the Erinys to be gathered from these two passages recalls Domhnall, the sorceress who fell in love with Cuchulainn in Alba and who persecuted him with enchantments when he slighted her — " Her form was very gruesome, her knees were large, her heels turned before her, her feet behind her ; big dark-grey eyes in her head, her face black as a bowl of jet. A very large forehead she had, her rough bright-red hair in threads wound round her head." ^

The connection of the Erinyes with snakes is interesting. Aeschylus in one passage in the Eumenides'^ uses the word SpoLKaiva, " the dragoness," as a name for them. Euripides calls them " Hades-snake " and SpaKovrwSei^, " with the forms of snakes." ^ These names suggest that the Erinyes had at one time been snakes like Snake- skin (in the Magyar tale mentioned before), the prince who had been changed into a snake, and who, immediately on regaining his proper shape, took the form of a pigeon. This snake-aspect of the Erinyes recalls the New Caledonian story ^ of the creature that emerged from the body of a great snake when it was changing its skin. This demon was like a man, but with his joints reversed ; his elbows were on the front of his arms, his knees at the back of his legs, he had small feet and eyes at the back of his head, and he apparently made a noise like whistling. Supernatural beings similar to this last, but unconnected with snakes, occur in the beliefs of some of the Melanesian Isles. These are either larger

And the analogous word Kafiipiovpo^, " bent tail," a synonym for a-Kiovpoi, "the shady tail or squirrel," oiipd meaning "tail," suggests that Ka/xxl/LTrovs means "with legs turned and bent backwards" under the body (as in birds when seated) in the same manner as the tail of a squirrel is bent backwards so as to lie along its back.

^ Miss Hull, T/ie Cuchullin Saga, p. 72.

^Aesch. Eiim. 126. ^Eur. Iphigenia in Tauris, 286. Orestes, 256.

^ Cited by M. Gaidoz from an article by M. R. Lourdet, in Les Missions Catholiques, 29th Feb., 1893, p. 93.