Page:The Mythology of the Aryan Nations.djvu/82

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

BOOK I. allows that what he terms allegory is one of the constituent elements of Greek mythology.[1] But even if we admit the objection in its full force, we lack but a single link to complete the chain of evidence and turn an overwhelming probability into fact. Have we any records of that old time in which men spoke as Greek and Norse myths seem to tell us that they spoke ? Have we any actual relics of that speech in which men talked of Daphne as chased by Phoibos, even while Daphne was still a common name of the dawn, and Phoibos meant simply the sun?[2]

The missing link in supplied in the older Vedic poems. The Vedic hymns of the Mantra period stand forth to give us the answer; but they do so only to exhibit a fresh marvel. While they show to us the speech which was afterwards petrified into the forms of Greek and Norse mythology, they point to a still earlier time, of which no record has come down, and of which we can have no further evidence than that which is furnished by the laws which determine the growth of language. Even in the Mantra period, the earliest in all Sanskrit, and therefore (as exhibiting the earliest form of thought) the oldest in all human literature,[3] the whole grammar is definitely fixed, and religious belief has assumed the character of a creed. And if in this period man has not lived long enough to trace analogies and arrive at some idea of an order of nature, he has grown into the strongest conviction that behind all the forms which come before his eyes there is a Being, unseen and all-powerful, whose bidding is done throughout the wide creation, and to whom men may draw nigh as children to a father.

The key to all Aryan mythology.

When, therefore, in these hymns, Kephalos, Prokris, Hermes, Daphne, Zeus, Ouranos, stand forth as simple names for the sun, the dew, the wind, the dawn, the heaven and the sky, each recognised as such, yet each endowed with the most perfect consciousness, we feel that the great riddle of mythology is solved, and that we no longer lack the key which shall disclose its most hidden treasures. When
  1. History of Greece, vol. i. p. 2.
  2. It is scarcely necessary to say that on this evidence of language Grimm lays the greatest possible stress. The affinity of the dialects spoken by all Teutonic and Scandinavian tribes being admitted, we have to consider the fact of their joint possession of terms relating to religious worshij). "If," he says, "we are able to produce a word used by the Goths in the fourth century, by the Alemanni in the eighth, in exactly the same form and sense as it continues to bear in the Norse authorities of the twelfth or thirteenth century, the affinity of the German faith with the Norse, and the antiquity of the latter, are thereby vindicated." Thus of the identity of their mythic notions and nomenclature "the agreement of the O. H. G. muspilli, O. Sax. mudspelli, with the Eddie muspell,- of the O. H. G. ites, A. Sax. ides, with the Eddie dis, or of the A. Sax, brosinga-mene with the Eddie brisingamen, affords perfectly conclusive evidence." — Ieutonic Mythology, Stallybrass.
  3. Max Müller, History of Sanskrit Literature, pp. 528, 557.