Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/334

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All this interpretation is perhaps too elaborate, too pat, too ingenious. Honey and milk were naturally a baby-god's food; we need not see in them the moon and the host of heaven. For our part, we may say with Grote, "Although some of the attributes and actions ascribed to the persons are often explicable by allegory, the whole series and system of them are never so. The theorist who adopts this path of explanation finds that, after one or two simple and obvious steps, the path is no longer open, and he is forced to clear a way for himself by gratuitous refinements and conjectures. . . . The theogony of the Greeks . . . cannot be translated into a string of elementary, planetary, or physical changes." Like Dr. Tiele, we are content only to explain what we can, but he can explain far more than we pretend to understand. Though a confession of ignorance is distasteful to most mythologists, it is to this that a cautious student of the stories of Cronus is reduced. The feat of severing the secular embrace of heaven and earth is intelligible enough, if the position of people who believe that heaven once actually touched earth is understood. Intelligible, too, is the Maori myth, in which the forest-god, thrusting his branches upwards, causes the divorce. But it is less easy to see why Cronus, in particular, took this rôle in Greece, because nothing is known of the meaning of the name Cronus, nor (beyond his truculence) of the god's original character and status.

The second myth, in which he swallows his children, has numerous parallels in savage legend. Bushmen tell of Kwai Hemm, the devourer, who swallows that