Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/40

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known to myth-makers, who regarded "swift Night" as an actual person. Plutarch, too, had an abstruse theory to explain the legend about the dummy wife,—a log of oak-wood, which Zeus pretended to marry when at variance with Hera.[1]

This quarrel, he said, was merely the confusion and strife of elements. Zeus was heat, Hera was cold (she had already been explained as earth and air), the dummy wife of oak-wood was a tree that emerged after a flood, and so forth. Of course, there was no evidence that mythopœic men held Plutarchian theories of heat and cold and the conflict of the elements; besides, as Eusebius pointed out, Hera had already been defined once as an allegory of wedded life, and once as the earth, and again as the air, and it was rather too late to assert that she was also the cold and watery element in the world. As for his own explanation of the myths, Eusebius holds that they descend from a period when men in their lawless barbarism knew no better than to tell such tales. "Ancient folk, in the exceeding savagery of their lives, made no account of God, the universal Creator, . . . but betook them to all manner of abominations. For the laws of decent existence were not yet established, nor was any settled and peaceful state ordained among men, but only a loose and savage fashion of wandering life, while, as beasts irrational, they cared for no more than to fill their bellies, being in a manner without God in the world." Growing a little more civilised, men, according to

  1. Pausanias, ix. 31.