Page:The Mythology of the Aryan Nations.djvu/60

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28
MYTHOLOGY OF THE ARYAN NATIONS.
BOOK I.

light-born, flow the sacred locks which no razor might touch. On the head of Nisos, as on that of Samson,[1] they become a Palladion invested with a mysterious power. From Helios, the sun, who can scorch as well as warm, comes the robe of Medeia, which reappears in the poisoned garments of Deianeira. Under the form of spears and arrows the rays of the sun are seen in almost every page of all Aryan mythology. They are the invincible darts of Phoibos, Achilleus, and Meleagros, of Heraklês and Theseus, of Artemis, Perseus, and Bellerophôn, the poisoned arrows which Philoktêtês and Odysseus, the model, as some will have it, of Hellenic character, scruple not to use.

Disintegration of myths.Thus the disintegration of the primary myths would be insured by the wealth of synonyms which the earliest form of human thought had brought into existence. If the Greek mythographers had been conscious that Kephalos and Prokris meant only the sun and the dew the legend would have continued to belong to the same class with the myths of Indra and his cloud-enemy Vritra. As it is, it stands midway between these primary legends and the later tales which sprung up when the meaning of such names as Lykâôn, Korônis, and Sarpêdon had been wholly forgotten. The form of thought which looked on all sensible phenomena as endowed with a conscious life, found utterance in a multiplicity of names for the same object, and each of these names became or might become the groundwork of a new myth, as in process of time they were confounded with words which most nearly resembled them in sound.

  1. Dean Stanley (Lectures on the Jewish Church, i. 368) points out the likeness between the features of Samson and those of Herakles. See also Goldziher's Mythology among the Hebrews, p. 22.