Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/520

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502

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

between tree worship pure and simple and its offspring, grove worship. This transition from the special cult of the single tree to the general cult of the wood or forest, comes about, I take it, through the medium of the temenos. And what is the temenos? Well, I think, we get the first clew toward an answer to that question in Mr. William Simpson's brilliant identification of the temple and the tomb, already so well foreshadowed by Mr. Herbert Spencer. For if the temple is only a magnified tomb where offerings on a large scale are habitually made to the sainted ghost or the deified ancestor, then clearly the temenos is just the representative of the inclosed space surrounded by a wall about the primitive barrow. In the center stands the temple—that is to say, the actual tomb itself; all round it stand the sacred trees planted upon or about the holy grave, and regarded as the actual representatives of the deified hero. These trees form, I think, the great link of transition to the sacred grove. For when once people had grown accustomed to the prime idea that certain trees were to be considered as sacred from their close connection with a deified ancestor, it would be but a slight and natural step to regard other trees as sacred because they stood near a holy site, or even to manufacture an artificial sanctity by planting trees about a cenotaph temple. Thus, when Xenophon, for instance, built a temple to Artemis, and planted around it a grove of many kinds of fruit trees, and placed in it an altar and an image of the goddess, nobody for one moment would pretend to suppose that he erected it over the body of an actual dead Artemis. But the point is, that men would never have begun building temples and consecrating groves at all, if they had not first built houses for the dead god-chief, and planted trees and shrubs and flowers and gardens upon his venerated tumulus.

And this point leads me up to an important qualification. It is not necessarily true—nay, it is demonstrably false—that every individual god was originally a dead man. In late stages of culture, gods are quite unmistakably manufactured out of abstractions, as when the Roman Senate decreed in due form the erection of a temple to the purely factitious goddess Concordia. But nobody could ever have thought of making Concordia or any other like abstraction into a deity, unless they had been first thoroughly familiarized with the idea of many gods, derived originally from the deified ancestor or chief, and unless also these gods had already been envisaged as "departmental"—that is to say, as possessing certain definitely distributed functions and prerogatives over certain particular actions or portions of Nature. The possession of such special prerogatives, however, does not in the least militate against the primitive humanity of such departmental gods; for the Christian saints have often similar prerogatives,