The Unicorn, a Mythological Investigation, by Robert Brown, , at sacred-texts.com
ERE noticing the final defeat of the nocturnal Unicorn, let us examine a very remarkable and most interesting instance of the triumph of Night over Day. The solar Dionysos, 1 Bakchos-Melqarth, 2 as radiate is styled Kerasphoros, Taurokerôs, and the like; and in a solar aspect generally Antauges, Chrysokomes, Chrysopes, Pyropos, etc. But one of his more occult epithets is Dithyreites, 'He-of-the-two-entrances.' According to one legend the cave in which he was concealed by Zeus from his angry consort Hêrê, 3 had two entrances; 4 and this is perfectly correct, for the Cave is the Underworld. The Two Entrances are 'the eastern gate Where the great sun begins his state,' 5 and that which in Kamic mythology is called 'the Gate of the West, the region of Bliss.' 6 These two most important Gates or Pylons are in the Kamic scheme
guarded by Seb, the time-marking earth-god who, lying on the surface of the earth and looking up into the vault of heaven, watches sun, moon and stars passing through his gateways, and in so doing marks solar, lunar and sidereal time. The Sun-god Uasar-Osiris, suffering, triumphant, and in this phase in immediate relation with the individual human soul which in some occult manner must follow in his steps, 'the Great Soul, has come along the noble road, making his path above,' 1 i.e., the solar track which, according to the Vedic poet, has been prepared for the Sun by the highest gods, Mitra 2 and Varuna 3 (Ouranos), and is 'free from dust;' 4 and at eventide he reaches and passes through the western gate, to reappear in due course through the eastern gate on the next morning. Such are the two Horizon-gates of Hades, the 'Unseen' Underworld.
The influence of Mythology upon Heraldry is a subject of great interest and one which yet remains for scientific treatment, and the following myth, faithfully preserved in the latter science, presents an admirable instance of the ever-recurring contest between Astrochitôn (Starry-night) and Dionysos Dithyreites. The heraldic Leopard is a beast of 'unkindly procreation and double nature, being engendered between the Lionesse and the Pardus' or male panther, and is thus 'exorbitent of Nature's
general course and intendment. This mis-begotten Beast is naturally enemy to the Lyon, and finding his own defect of courage to encounter the Lyon in fair fight, he observeth when the Lyon makes his walk near to his Den, which (in policy) he hath purposely wrought spacious and wide in the double entrance thereof, and narrow in the midst, so as himself being much more slender than the Lyon, may easily pass. When he seeth the Lyon, he maketh towards him hastily, as if he would bid him battell in the open fields; and when he seeth the Lyon prepared to encounter him, he betaketh him to his heeles, and maketh towards his Den with all celerity, whom the Lyon eagerly pursueth with full course, dreaming of no danger by reason of the large entrance into the Den. At length through the vehemency of his swift course, he becometh so straitned in the narrow passage in the midst of the Den that he can go neither forwards nor backwards. The Lyon being thus distressed, his enemy passeth through his Den, and cometh behind him, and gnaweth him to death.' 1
This very singular and ancient account is evidently founded on some actual fact, but certainly on no fact connected with the habits of the animals. The simple interpretation of the occult legend is that the Lion, type of the hunting, radiate, diurnal Sun, 2 speeds across heaven towards his fate and death in the Den of the Two Entrances, the nocturnal cave tenanted by the starry, spotted Leopard of night, and where the
noble beast is caught whilst going down the dark passages, 1 and perishes, although only to be reborn in triumph at the eastern gate. The two animals, as protagonists of night and day, are thus naturally hostile. There is a wide entrance to the Underworld, 'facilis descensus Averni;' the darkness flies from the light, and the Vedic poet says that 'the stars slink away, like thieves' 2 from the presence of Surya, 3 even as the cowardly leopard of the myth betakes him to his heels. 'The noble Samas' 4 pursues with all 'the vehemency of his swift course,' whilst his enemy passing through the Den, appears in heaven behind the hidden Sun, whom he thus slays; and, according to a wild-beast simile, and one, moreover, applied to an ignoble beast, gnaws to death.
Another phase of this spotted Leopard is Argos Panoptes, 'the Bright All-seeing-one,' who possessed a hundred eyes, and who was appointed by the jealous Hêrê guardian of the lunar, horned Iô, the beloved of Zeus. Amongst other exploits Argos had slain in her sleep 5 the terrible, drakontic, black-eyed, maiden-serpent, Echidna, 6 'the Strangler,' whose dark folds were wrapped around the extinguished day, but who whilst in the heavy repose of profound gloom was
suddenly annihilated by the myriad bright eyes of 'Tistar-Seirios and his fellows. But Hermes, the Wind-power upon the Clouds, the breeze of morning, 1 puts out the starry eyes and thus becomes Argeiphontês, 'the-Slayer-of-Argos,' an ancient epithet familiar to Homer. On a gem, representing the myth, 2 Hermes, as in the case of Perseus the assistant of the diurnal-power, has just decapitated Argos, an act the exact equivalent of the Gorgotomy, and his body covered with spots, the starry eyes, has fallen on the ground; behind is the Peacock, the bird of Hêrê, with its spotted, starry-eyed tail. As Mr. Ruskin notes, 'We know that this interpretation is right, from a passage in which Euripides describes the shield of Hippomedon, which bore for its sign "Argus the all-seeing, covered with eyes; open towards the rising of the stars, and closed towards their setting."' 3 The starry eyes of Argos become mediaevally the eleven thousand virgins 4 who accompany S. Ursula, 'Little-bright-one,' i.e., the moon as opposed to the sun. Riksha-arktos-ursus (ursa, dim. ursula) 'in the sense of bright, has become the name of the bear, so called either from his bright eyes or from his brilliant tawny fur' suggests Prof. Max Müller. 5 Be this as it may, the root ark 'to be bright,' is the sire of a whole tribe of words which have made myths, such as Arkas, Argo, Argos, Arjunî-Argynnis, etc.; and in the
story of the Arkadian nymph Kallistô, changed into a she-bear, 'we have precisely that same confusion of thought which in India converted the seven shiners [Arkshas] into seven sages [Rishis], and in the West changed them into bears. The root, in short, furnished a name for stars, bears, and poets alike.' 1 As the Moon is Ursa-Ursula, so two famous constellations are Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
Thus in their kosmic signification Spots denote the star-spangled heaven, Polos Ouranios, and so of the fully-attired Orphik worshipper we read;
Such is the nocturnal Peacock-Leopard, slayer of darkness, slain by mightier light.
73:1 In Assyrian Dian-nisi, 'Judge-of-men,' the Sun-god, as in Kam, being the particular divinity appointed by divine selection to judge.
73:2 Vide the G.D.M. ii. 100, for an account of the changes in the phases of this name. My view is now accepted by Sir G. W. Cox (Introd. 229).
73:3 Sk. Svar, 'the Gleaming-heaven.'
73:4 Euripides, Bakchai, 292.
73:5 LAllegro, 59-60.
73:6 Dr. Birch in Bunsen's Egypt's Place, v. 147.
74:1 F.R. lxxxv.
74:2 As to Mitra, the Iranian Mithra and Roman Mithras, the 'Friend,' consubstantial with Ahuramazda-Ormazd, vide R. B. Jr., R.Z., secs. xv. xvi.
74:3 Rig-Veda, I. xxiv. 8.
74:4 Ibid. I. xxxv. 11.
75:1 Guillim, D.H. 255.
75:2 Vide sec. XII. subsec. 1.
76:1 Ἐὐρώεντα κέλευθα (Od. xxiv. 10), through which Hermes Psychopompos guides ghosts.
76:2 Rig-Veda, I. l. 2.
76:4 Heb. Shemesh.
76:5 Apollod. II. i. 2. So Medousa was slain in her sleep.
76:6 Vedic Ahi, Gk. Echis, Lat. Anguis. 'In Echidna we have the very name of the throttling snake Ahi' (Sir G. W. Cox, M.A.N. ii. 334). Anger, anguish and anxiety are similarly all derived from the root agh, nasalised form angh, 'to choke.'
77:2 Ap. Creuzer, Symbolik, vol. ii. pl. viii.
77:3 Q.A. i. 28.
77:4 Vide R. B. Jr., G.D.M. ii. 80, and authorities cited.
77:5 L.S.L. ii. 300.
78:1 Sir G. W. Cox, M.A.N. i. 231. Cf. 'the names Horselberg and Ercildoune. In each case we have the berg, hill or doun of the moon-goddess Ursel, or Ursula' (Ibid. Introd. 160, note 4).
78:2 Orphik Fragments, vii. Diodoros (i. 11), also, states that the spotted fawn-skin signified the starry-vault. Dionysos Nebridepeplos = Herakles Astrochitôn.