Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/461

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The European Sky-God. 445

the Virgilian comparison ^ and the Servian comment on which he relies, I have shown - from Greek and Latin sources that the mistletoe was called 'the sweat of the oak,' i.e. the quintessence or life-blood of the oak, and I might add that a Gaelic name for the mistletoe is shgh dharich, ' the sap or substance of the oak.' ^ Moreover, just as the giant of Dubhros could not be burnt with fire or drowned in water, so it was believed by the ancients that the mistletoe^ and a tree resembling the mistletoe-bearing oak could not be harmed by fire or water.^ Nevertheless it remains possible that the sacred tree at Nemi was not an oak at all, but an apple-tree. The Silver Bough of Irish myth, which, as Miss Hull pointed out,^ affords the closest parallel to the Golden Bough of Italian myth, was certainly an apple-branch. Besides, Prof. Furtwangler holds that we have a repre- sentation of Diana Nemorensis in a series of gems, which exhibit a draped female figure standing by an altar with a stag at her side : she holds a branch in one hand and a cup, sometimes full of fruit, in the other.^ A similarly posed male figure holding a sacrificial knife he regards as Virbius.^ If these identifications were certain, we could be sure that the sacred tree at Nemi was not an oak, for in one instance ^*^ at least the branch has round fruit on it, probably apples. Again, an actual votive offering in the form of an apple made of terra cotta was found

^ Verg. Aen. 6. 205 ff., Serv. in Verg. Aen. 6. 136. "^ Folk-loj-e xv. 424.

^J. Cameron Gaelic Names of Plants p. 33 f.

  • Plin. nat. hist. 13. 119, cp. ib. 33. 94, Theophr. de igne 61.

^ Id. ib. 13. 119. ^Folk-lore xii. 431 ff., cp. xvii. 156 n. i.

A. Furtwangler Die antiken Gemnien Leipzig and Berlin 1900 iii. 231. ^ Id. ib. i. pi. XX. 66, xxii. 18, 26, 30, 32, ii. loi, 108 f., id. Beschreibujtg der geschnittenen Steine im Antiqtiarium Berlin 1896 nos. 856-861.

^ Id. Die ajitiken Gemmen i. pi. xxii. 19, ii. 108, iii. 231 f., Beschr, d. geschn. Steine im Antiq. nos. 854, 855.

i^/if. Die antiken Gemmen i. pi. xxii. 18, ii. 108.