Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/386

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


CHAPTER X.

MYTHOLOGY (continued).

Philosophical Myths: inferences become pseudo-history — Geological Myths — Effect of doctrine of Miracles on Mythology — Magnetic Mountain — Myths of relation of Apes to Men by development or degeneration — Ethnological import of myths of Ape-men, Men with tails, Men of the woods — Myths of Error, Perversion, and Exaggeration: stories of Giants, Dwarfs, and Monstrous Tribes of men — Fanciful explanatory Myths — Myths attached to legendary or historical Personages — Etymological Myths on names of places and persons — Eponymic Myths on names of tribes, nations, countries, &c.; their ethnological import — Pragmatic Myths by realization of metaphors and ideas — Allegory — Beast-Fable — Conclusion.


Although the attempt to reduce to rule and system the whole domain of mythology would as yet be rash and premature, yet the piecemeal invasion of one mythic province after another proves feasible and profitable. Having discussed the theory of nature-myths, it is worth while to gain in other directions glimpses of the crude and child-like thought of mankind, not arranged in abstract doctrines, but embodied by mythic fancy. We shall find the result in masses of legends, full of interest as bearing on the early history of opinion, and which may be roughly classified under the following headings: myths philosophical or explanatory; myths based on real descriptions misunderstood, exaggerated, or perverted; myths attributing inferred events to legendary or historical personages; myths based on realization of fanciful metaphor; and myths made or adapted to convey moral or social or political instruction.

Man's craving to know the causes at work in each event he witnesses, the reasons why each state of things he sur-

368