Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/532

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494 Reviews.

the Twins were mortal and immortal have traced the idea to an early belief that the morning and evening star, from which the cult is supposed to have originated, were really two stars. At a later period came the removal of the brethren to the zodiacal sign. But Dr. Rendel Harris takes back the idea of the mortal and immortal brothers to indefinite ages before the invention of the Zodiac or the rise of astronomical investigation. He shews the ubiquity of the ancient cult, and of the functions ascribed to the Twins. He begins with the present-day beliefs and customs of savage races. On the first-hand testimony of missionaries we learn that among the Essequibo Indians the occurrence of twins is regarded as pre- ternatural and uncanny. One of the twins must needs be the child, not of its true father in the flesh, but of a sort of vampire or disembodied spirit called Kenainia. It follows that the child has a malign influence and must be destroyed. Here is a parallel to the double siredom of the Dioscuri. Among the tribes of West and South Africa is found a variety of attitudes towards twins. In some tribes they are reckoned lucky, but the prevaiUng view is that they are unlucky. In this case the destruction of both children and mother is common, though the mother sometimes escapes with banish- ment. Sometimes one child only is destroyed. Further, there are traces of the belief that twins are unnatural, and hence we find them spoken of as "children of the sky." In certain localities, again, where twins are welcomed as of good omen they have fixed names, and in some cases they are honoured with monthly worship.

This widespread superstition among savage peoples of different parts of the globe points to the conclusion that the origin of twin worship was the same all over the world. Twins were a phenomenon outside the ordinary course of nature, and their occurrence was an uncanny event for which a preternatural cause must be assigned. This appears to be a perfectly sound and common-sense deduction.

Dr. Rendel Harris goes on to shew the wide difi"usion of Dioscurism amongst the ancients. It is found in a variety of forms among the Greeks, Phoenicians, Indians, Persians,