Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/291

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not the deer into that wood, but, waiting till the beast comes forth again, sees that it has left its shadow behind. And on the highest crest of the whole mountain there is a mound of heaped-up earth, the altar of Zeus Lycæus, and the more part of Peloponnesus can be seen from that place. And before the altar stand two pillars facing the rising sun, and thereon golden eagles of yet more ancient workmanship. And on this altar they sacrifice to Zeus in a manner that may not be spoken, and little liking had I to make much search into this matter. But let it be as it is, and as it hath been from the beginning." The words "as it hath been from the beginning" are ominous and significant, for the traditional myths of Arcadia tell of the human sacrifices of Lycaon, and of men who, tasting the meat of a mixed sacrifice, put human flesh between their lips unawares.[1] This aspect of Greek religion, then, is almost on a level with the mysterious cannibal horrors of "Voodoo," as practised by the secret societies of negroes in Hayti. But concerning these things, as Pausanias might say, it is little pleasure to inquire.

Even where men were not sacrificed to the gods, the tourist among the temples would learn that these bloody rites had once been customary, and ceremonies existed by way of commutation. This is precisely what we find in Vedic religion, in which the empty form of sacrificing a man was gone through, and the origin of the world was traced to the fragments of a

  1. Plato, Rep., viii. 565, d. This rite occurs in some African coronation ceremonies.