Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/347

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329
MYTHS OF SUN, MOON, AND STARS.

howl and lamentation, would shoot across into the sky to drive the monsters off. The Caribs, thinking that the demon Maboya, hater of all light, was seeking to devour the Sun and Moon, would dance and howl in concert all night long to scare him away. The Peruvians, imagining such an evil spirit in the shape of a monstrous beast, raised the like frightful din when the Moon was eclipsed, shouting, sounding musical instruments, and beating the dogs to join their howls to the hideous chorus. Nor are such ideas extinct in our own days. In the Tupi language, the proper description of a solar eclipse is 'oarasu jaguaretê vû,' that is, 'Jaguar has eaten Sun;' and the full meaning of this phrase is displayed by tribes who still shout and let fly burning arrows to drive the devouring beast from his prey. On the northern continent, again, some savages believed in a great sun-swallowing dog, while others would shoot up arrows to defend their luminaries against the enemies they fancied attacking them. By the side of these prevalent notions there occur, however, various others; thus the Caribs could imagine the eclipsed Moon hungry, sick, or dying; the Peruvians could fancy the Sun angry and hiding his face, and the sick Moon likely to fall in total darkness, and bring on the end of the world; the Hurons thought the Moon sick, and explained their customary charivari of shouting men and howling dogs as performed to recover her from her complaint. Passing on from these most primitive conceptions, it appears that natives of both South and North America fell upon philosophic myths somewhat nearer the real facts of the case, insomuch as they admit that the Sun and Moon cause eclipses of one another. In Cumana, men thought that the wedded Sun and Moon quarrelled, and that one of them was wounded; and the Ojibwas endeavoured by tumultuous noise to distract the two from such a conflict. The course of progressive science went far beyond this among the Aztecs, who, as part of their remarkable astronomical knowledge, seem to have had an idea of the real cause of