Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/462

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446 The Ettropean Sky -God.

by Lord Savile in Diana's precinct at Nemi.^ Lastly, Grattius^ in his poem on hunting describes as follows the huntsman's festival : 'In the glades beneath the sky we fashion cross-road altars ; we set up split torches at Diana's woodland rite ; the puppies are wreathed with their wonted adornment ; and in the midmost part of the glade men lay their very weapons upon flowers, weapons that are idle during these rites and this festal time of peace. Then comes the cask ; the cakes that smoke on their green tray are brought forward, the kid with horns just budding from his gentle brow, and the apples still hanging on their boughs, after the manner of the lustral rite, whereby our whole company purifies itself for the goddess and praises her for the year's capture.' It is a legitimate inference from this passage that apple-branches played an important part in the ritual of Diana Nemorensis. And the word here used for ' boughs ' {ramos) is the same as that used by Servius in speaking of the ' bough ' broken from the sacred tree. It might be urged too that, if Servius had meant the mistletoe, he would have been careful to say so, or at least to specify 'a particular bough,' whereas what he does say is ' if any one had been able to break thence a bough ' {si quis exinde ramum potuisset auferre)^ — which distinctly suggests ' any hongh.^ and so favours the apple-branch or oak-branch as against the mistletoe-branch explanation. This, however, is not the right place for discussing whether the tree at Nemi was a mistletoe-bearing oak, or an apple-tree, or for that matter a mistletoe-bearing apple-tree. My point is that the Irish parallels go to prove that the branch in question had berries or fruit popularly regarded as the food of the gods, and that the bearer of the branch ipso facto assumed the position of a god.

^ G. H. Wallis Illustrated Catalogzie of Classical Antiqtdties from the site of the Temple of Diana, Nemi, Italy Nottingham 1893 p. 15 no. 69. ^Gratt. cyneg. 483 ff. ^Serv. in Verg. Aen. 6. 136.