Pagan Christs, by John M. Robertson, , at sacred-texts.com
Though the secondary Gods are not always sacrificed, they are nearly always in some measure teachers; and here, of course, they are developed from earlier forms. A general conception of the God as teacher belongs to early religion, inasmuch as he is held to have given the moral laws which are associated with his cult; and where his worship is specially bound up with rites of agriculture he is conceived as having taught men that and other arts. Among the Narrinyeri of South Australia, the Supreme God Nurundere "instituted all the rites and ceremonies which are practised by the aborigines, whether connected with life or death. On enquiring why they adhere to any custom, the reply is, because Nurundere commanded it." 1 Among the ancient civilisations the same doctrine is common. Thus Oannes the Fish-God (identified with Ea) 2 taught the Babylonians agriculture and the building of cities, writing, laws, cosmology, religion, the sciences, and the arts, including the measurement of landsin a word, everything appertaining to civilisation; 3 and Shamas dictates the laws of Hammurabi. 4 On a less comprehensive scale, in Egyptian myth, Thoth gave men language and names, the art of writing, and the rules of worship and sacrifice; 5 Osiris taught the Egyptians the art of agriculture, and gave them laws, and guidance as to worship; 6 Janus and Saturn did as much for the Italians; 7 Huitzilopochtli no less for the Aztecs; 8 and Apollo, though in one myth he has to learn divination from Pan 9 as he learns music from Hermes, in another gives laws to the Hyperboreans 10 and thereafter speaks oracles at Delphi for the Greeks, teaching them a more civilised way of life. 11 Dionysos similarly
had a teacher in Silenus, but himself taught men in particular the culture of the vine; and Dêmêtêr, who must needs introduce some of the arts of agriculture, 1 is also a lawgiver 2 for both Greeks and Romans. 3 Isis in turn divides with Osiris the honours of agriculture, she having shown men how to make use of wheat and barley; and she too gives men laws, and even leechcraft. 4 The Goddesses, indeed, are as commonly as the Gods credited with introducing culture. Athênê teaches all crafts; 5 Cybelê like Isis is a teacher of healing; 6 and the Gallic Minerva (Belisama) was reputed the giver of arts and crafts. 7 Similarly the Gallic Apollo (Grannos or Mahon) was held to drive away disease; 8 as also the Teutonic Odin. 9 This idea of the Gods as the givers of healing is indeed common to the whole Aryan race; and in the religion of India medicine was held to come immediately from them like the Veda itself. 10 So in Hawaii there is found a tradition that "many generations back a man called Koreamoku obtained all their medicinal herbs from the gods, who also taught him the use of them; that after his death he was deified, and a wooden image of him placed in the large temple at Kairna, to which offerings of hogs, fish, and cocoa nuts were frequently presented......Two friends and disciples of Koreamoku continued to practise the art after the death of their master, and were also deified after death." 11 Elsewhere, again, "From the gods the priests pretended to have received the knowledge of the healing art"; 12 while in Tahiti there was a God of physic and two of surgery, as well as the usual guild-Gods of the different avocations. 13 In Samoa, yet again, the War-God Tu was in time of peace a doctor. 14
The universality of the idea is best realised when we turn to the Gods of the more primitive peoples. We have seen how the Dravidian Khonds ascribe to Boora and Tari the raising of men from savagery and ignorance to comfort by means of instruction, and to Boora a moralising purpose as against the sacrificial cult. So, in the higher mythology of Peru, the Sun sent Manco Capac and Mama Ocello to teach savage men true religion, morality, agriculture, arts, and sciences; while on another view Pachacamac, finding the first breed hopeless, turned them into tiger cats or apes,
and made a new set, whom he taught arts and handicrafts. This idea of teaching or reformation pervades the whole cosmogony of the Incarial period. 1 So with the Gods of pre-Christian Mexico: the national deity of each tribe or nation is nearly always specified as the giver of its laws, and at times as the inventor of fire and clothing, 2 and in at least one case he is the writer of the sacred books. 3
Where this conception is not prominent in a primitive religion, the explanation appears to be that the enlightening power of the Gods operates by way of inspiring the priests. Thus in the Tonga Islands, where there seems to have been little trace of a general culture-myth, inspiration of the priest by his God was held to be common; 4 and even the God Tangaloa, "God of artificers and the arts," appropriately had for his priests only carpenters. 5 When inspired, the priest as a matter of course spoke in the first person, as being the God for the time being. 6 Similar inspiration, however, was held to come from the divine spirits of deceased nobles; 7 and it is thus intelligible that the general development of this species of "trance mediumship" should keep in the background the thought of any special Teaching God.
With the growth of culture and literature and sacerdotalism, however, the notion of a God who inspires priests or oracles is developed into or superseded by that of a God who especially represents the principle of counsel or wisdom or revelation; and in the polytheistic systems we have accordingly such deities as the Assyrian Nabu or Nebo, 8 the wise, the all-knowing, the wisdom of the Gods, patron of writing and literature, and son and interpreter of Merodach, who in turn is the interpreter of the will of his father Ea, the earlier God of wisdom; the Indian Agni, in his secondary character of messenger or "Mouth of the Gods"; 9 and the Egyptian Thoth, who, originally the Moon-God and therefore the Measurer becomes as such the representative of the principle of instruction and the writer of the sacred books. 10 In this latter capacity he has an obvious advantage over Maat, the Goddess of Law and Truth, and at once the daughter and the mother of Ra. 11 Thus, while every
[paragraph continues] Egyptian God proper is neb maat, "lord of law," Thoth is in particular the Logos, Reason, or Word; and so becomes the sustainer of Osiris against his enemies. 1
This latter conception is seen entering Greek mythology at three stages, first in the myth of (1) Hermes, who is Logos in the sense of being either a Moon-God like Thoth 2 or simply Wind-God and so the messenger of the Gods; 3 later, in the ennobled worship of (2) Apollo and Athênê, of whom the former is the mouth of Zeus and revealer of his counsel, hence the typical God of oracles, and the latter, grouped with her brother and father in a triad, 4 is also her father's wisdom; 5 and still later, in the period of developing theosophy, in the myth of (3) Metis, essentially the personified Reason and Intelligence of Zeus. 6
In a more sophisticated form, the idea of the God as lawgiver is met with in the myth of Zeus and Minos, 7 the Cretan institutorhimself a purely mythical figure, like Moses, and, like him, presumably a deity of an earlier age; 8 and again in the legend of King Numa and his Egeria. 9 Such myths may conceivably rise either as an inference from the ordinary phenomenon of the seer or sorcerer or priest who claims to have sought and to have been inspired by the God, or as the attempts of a late theosophy to remove anthropomorphism from the popular lore. On the latter view, they are paralleled by the attempts of the Evemerists to explain the Teaching God as a myth set up by the fame of a human teacher. Thus Ouranos is figured as a mortal who first gathered men in cities, gave them laws and agriculture, and taught them to observe the stars, the movements of the sun, and the division of months and the year; whence his final deification; 10 and similarly Orpheus becomes "sacer interpreterque Deorum," who deterred savage men from slaughters and foulness of life. 11 And, either by way of spontaneous evolution or as a result of Semitic or other eastern influence, we find among the Yorubas of Nigeria an Oracle-God and Teaching God, If a, who utters moral maxims, and figures alternately as a
demigod who mastered and taught medicine, divination, and prophecy, and so was deified, and as the first-born son of the Creator and the Mother Goddess, the Saviour-God being the second-born. 1
214:1 Taplin, The Narrinyeri, 2nd ed. p. 55.
214:2 Lenormant, Chaldean Magic, p. 157; Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 133-4.
214:3 Berosus, ap. Alex. Polyhistor. Cp. Sayce, pp. 368-370.
214:4 Oettli, Das Gesetz Hammurabis and die Thora Israels, 1903, p. 84.
214:5 Diodorus, i, 16; Erman, Handbook of Eg. Rel. Eng. tr. p. 11.
214:6 Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 13. Diodorus, i, 14, adds that he made an end of cannibalism.
214:7 Macrobius, Saturnalia, i, 7; Tertullian, Apol. c. 10.
214:8 J. G. Müller, Amerikanische Urreligionen, ed. 1867 p. 597.
214:9 Apollodorus, i, 4, § 1.
214:10 Pindar, Ol. iii, 24 sq., etc.
214:11 Strabo, citing Ephorus, B. ix, ciii, § 11.
215:1 Virgil, Georg. i, 147-8; Ovid, Fasti, iv, 401-2.
215:2 Callimachus, Hymn to Dêmêtêr, 19-22; Diodorus, i, 14.
215:3 Virgil, Aeneid, iv, 58.
215:4 Diodorus, i, 14, 25.
215:5 Iliad, xv, 412.
215:6 Diodorus, iii, 58.
215:7 Cæsar, Bel. Gallic. vi, 17.
215:8 Id. ib.
215:9 Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, Eng. tr. i, 149.
215:10 Weber, History of Indian Literature, Eng. tr. p. 265.
215:11 Ellis, Polynesian Researches, 2nd ed., 1831, iv, 335-6.
215:12 Id. iii, 36-37.
215:13 Id. i, 333.
215:14 Turner, Samoa a Hundred Years Ago, p. 61.
216:1 J. G. Müller, Amerikanische Urreligionen, pp. 304, 319, 330.
216:2 Id. pp. 394 sq., 587, 594-6-7.
216:3 Id. p. 587. The God in question was Huemac, national deity of the Toltecs, latterly known as Quetzalcoatl. Below, Part IV, § 7.
216:4 Mariner's Account of the Tonga Islands, 3rd ed. 1827, i, 104, 190, 290; ii, 115, etc.
216:5 Id. ii, 108.
216:6 Id, ii, 87. So in Polynesia generally. Cp. Ellis, i, 375, etc.
216:7 Mariner, ii, 108.
216:8 Jastrow, Religions of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 124, 129-30, 229, 344, 348, etc.; Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 50, 98, 112-115, 120-1; Tiele, Hist. comp. des anc. relig., trad. fr. 1882, p. 202.
216:9 Max Müller, Physical Religion, 1891, p. 168; below, Part III, § 4.
216:10 Tiele, Egyptian Religion, pp. 62-3, 178; Le Page Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, 2nd ed. p. 116; Book of the Dead, ch. lxviii.
216:11 Renouf, pp. 119-122.
217:1 Book of the Dead, cc. xviii, xx; Tiele, Egyptian Religion, p. 63.
217:2 Cp. Ernst Siecke, Hermes der Mond-Gott, 1908.
217:3 According to Tiele (Outlines of the History of the Ancient Religions, Eng. tr. p. 211), it was as Wind-God that Hermes became God of music and (horresco referens) of eloquence.
217:4 Athênê is possibly in origin one with Tanith (Tiele, Outlines, p. 210), and with Anaitis (Id. Egyptian Religion, pp. 135-6), who was bracketed with Mithra, and so brought near to Ahura-Mazda. See below, Part III, § 5. But cp. E. Meyer, who decides (Gesch. des Alt. ii, 115) that Athênê is simply the place name Athenai = Athens.
217:5 Iliad, v, 875 sq. viii, 5 sq.; Hesiod, Theog. 896; Odyssey, xvi, 260.
217:6 Cp. Preller, Griechische Mythologie, 2nd ed. i, 150 and refs.
217:7 Plato, Minos; Strabo, x, 4, § 8; xvi, 2, § 38. Cp. Burrows, The Discoveries in Crete, 1907, pp. 25, 43, 126-7; Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, 1907, pp. 32, 127.
217:8 Preller, as cited, ii, 118 sq.
217:9 Plutarch, Numa, cc. 4, 13, 15.
217:10 Diodorus, iii, 56.
217:11 Horace, Ars poet. 391-2.
218:1 Dennett, Nigerian Studies, 1910, pp. 58, 63, 86-90. As to Semitic traces see pp. 11, 99.