Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/177

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was once a woman. Nay, by reason of her calamities she became speechless, and so, from her silence, was called a stone."[1]

There is another famous petrification in the Iliad. When the prodigy of the snake and the sparrows had appeared to the assembled Achæans at Aulis, Zeus displayed a great marvel, and changed into a stone the serpent which swallowed the young of the sparrow. Changes into stone, though less common than changes into fishes, birds, and beasts, were thus obviously not too strange for the credulity of Greek mythology, which could also believe that a stone became the mother of Agdestis by Zeus.

As to interchange of shape between men and women and plants, our information, so far as the lower races are concerned, is less copious. It has already been shown that the totems of many stocks in all parts of the world are plants, and the belief in descent from a plant by itself demonstrates that the confused belief in all things being on one level has thus introduced vegetables into the dominion of myth. As far as possessing souls is concerned, Mr. Tylor has proved that plants are as well equipped as men or beasts or minerals.[2] In India the doctrine of transmigration "widely and clearly reconises the idea of trees or smaller plants being animated by human souls." In the well-known ancient Egyptian story of "The Two Brothers,"[3] the life of

  1. The Scholiast on Iliad, xxiv. 6, 7.
  2. Primitive Culture, i. 145; examples of Society Islanders, Dyaks, Karens, Buddhists.
  3. Maspero, Contes Egyptiens, p. 25.