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the sword." In the kingdom of Unyoro in Central Africa,
custom still requires that as soon as the king falls seriously
ill or begins to break up from age, he shall be killed by his own wives; for, according to an old prophecy, the throne will pass away from the dynasty if ever the king should die a natural death.” When the king of Kibanga, on the Upper Congo, seems near his end, the sorcerers put a rope round his neck, which they draw gradually tighter till he dies.” If the king of Gingero happens to be wounded in war, he is put to death by his comrades, or if they fail to kill him, by his kinsfolk, however hard he may beg for mercy. They say they do it that he may not die by the hands of his enemies." It appears to have been a Zulu custom to put the king to death as soon as he began to have wrinkles or gray hairs. At least this seems implied in the following passage, written by one who resided for some time at the court of the notorious Zulu tyrant Chaka, in the early part of the nineteenth century: “The extraordinary violence of the king's rage with me was mainly occasioned by that absurd nostrum, the hair oil, with the notion of which Mr. Farewell had impressed him as being a specific for removing all indications of age. From the first moment of his having heard that such a preparation was attainable, he evinced a solicitude to procure it, and on every occasion never forgot to remind us of his anxiety respecting it; more especially on our departure on the mission his injunctions were particularly directed to this object. It will be seen that it is one of the barbarous customs of the Zoolas in their choice or election of their kings that he must neither have wrinkles nor gray hairs, as they are both distinguishing marks of disqualification for becoming a monarch of a warlike people. It is also equally indispensable that their king should never exhibit those
proofs of having become unfit and incompetent to reign ; it
is therefore important that they should conceal these indications so long as they possibly can. Chaka had become greatly apprehensive of the approach of gray hairs; which would at once be the signal for him to prepare to make his exit from this sublunary world, it being always followed by the death of the monarch.”” The custom of putting kings to death as soon as they suffered from any personal defect prevailed two centuries ago in the Caffre kingdoms of Sofala, to the north of the present Zululand. These kings of Sofala, as we have seen,” were regarded as gods by their people, being entreated to give rain or sunshine, according as each might be wanted. Nevertheless a slight bodily blemish, such as the loss of a tooth, was considered a sufficient cause for putting one of these god-men to death, as we learn from the following passage of an old historian. “Contiguous to the domains of the Quiteva [the king of Sofala] are those of another prince called Sedanda. This prince becoming afflicted with leprosy, resolved on following implicitly the laws of the country, and poisoning himself, conceiving his malady to be incurable, or at least that it would render him so loathsome in the eyes of his people that they would with difficulty recognise him. In consequence he nominated his successor, holding as his opinion that sovereigns who should serve in all things as an example to their people ought to have no defect whatever, even in their persons; that when any defects may chance to befall them they cease to be worthy of life and of governing their dominions; and preferring death in compliance with this law to life, with the reproach of having been its violator. But this law was not observed with equal scrupulosity by one of the Quitevas, who, having lost a tooth and feeling no disposition to follow the practice of his predecessors, published to the people that he had lost a front tooth, in order that when they might behold, they yet might be able to recognise him ; declaring at the same time that he was resolved on living and reigning as long as he could, esteeming his existence requisite for the welfare of his subjects. He at the same time loudly condemned the practice of his predecessors, whom he taxed with imprudence, nay, even with madness,
* Diodorus Siculus, iii. 6; Strabo, Archivio Aer so studio delle tradizioni
xvii. 2. 3. Aofolari, vii. (1888), p. 231. * Emin Pasha in Central Africa, * The 7 ravels of the /esuits in
&eing a Collection of his Letters and Ethiopia, collected and historically
Journals (London, 1888), p. 91. digested by F. Balthazar Tellez, of the
* P. Guillemé, “Credenze religiose Society of Jesus (London, 17 lo), p. dei Negri di Kibanganell'Alto Congo,” 197.
" Nathaniel Isaacs, 7 ravels and 1836), i. 295 sq., cp. pp. 232, 290 sq. Adventures in Eastern Africa (London, * Above, vol. i. p. 155 sq.
for having condemned themselves to death for casual accidents to their persons, confessing plainly that it would be with much regret, even when the course of nature should bring him to his end, that he should submit to die. He observed, moreover, that no reasonable being, much less a monarch, ought to anticipate the scythe of time; and, abrogating this mortal law, he ordained that all his successors, if sane, should follow the precedent he gave, and the new law established by him.”” This King of Sofala was, therefore, a bold reformer like Ergamenes, King of Ethiopia. We may conjecture that the ground for putting the Ethiopian kings to death was, as in the case of the Zulu and Sofala kings, the appearance on their person of any bodily defect or sign of decay; and that the oracle which the priests alleged as the authority for the royal execution was to the effect that great calamities would result from the reign of a king who had any blemish on his body; just as an oracle warned Sparta against a “lame reign,” that is, the reign of a lame king.” It is some confirmation of this conjecture that the kings of Ethiopia were chosen for their size, strength, and beauty long before the custom of killing them was abolished.” To this day the Sultan of Wadai must have no obvious bodily defect, and a king of Angoy cannot be crowned if he has a single blemish, such as a broken or a filed tooth or the scar of an old wound." It is only natural, therefore, to suppose, especially with the other African examples before us, that any bodily defect or symptom of old age appearing on the
sisters. But this limitation is not
| Dos Santos, “History of Eastern mentioned by the other authorities.
Ethiopia” (published at Paris in 1684), in Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, xvi. 684.
* Xenophon, Hellenica, iii. 3. 3; Plutarch, Agesilants, 3; id., Lysander, 22 ; Pausanias, iii. 8. 9.
* Herodotus, iii. 20; Aristotle, /o/i. tics, iv. 4. 4 ; Athenaeus, xiii. p. 566. According to Nicolaus Damascenus (Fr. 142, in Fragm. Historic. Graecor. ed. C. Müller, iii. p. 463), the handsomest and bravest man was only raised to the throne when the king had no heirs, the heirs being the sons of his
The Alitemnian Libyans chose the fleetest runner to be their king. See Nicolaus Damascenus, ..]/irab. 38 (Paradoxographi Graeci, ed. Westermann, p. 175); Stobaeus, Florilegium, xliv. 41 (vol. ii. p. 187, ed. Meineke). Among the Gordioi the fattest man was chosen king; among the Syrakoi, the tallest, or the man with the longest head (Zenobius, v. 25).
* G. Nachtigal, Saharf und Sádán (Leipsic, 1889), iii. 225; Bastian, Die deutsche Expedition an der LoangoAmste, i. 220.
person of the Ethiopian monarch was the signal for his execution. At a later time it is recorded that if the King of Ethiopia became maimed in any part of his body all his courtiers had to suffer the same mutilation." But this rule may perhaps have been instituted at the time when the custom of killing the king for any personal defect was abolished ; instead of compelling the king to die because, for example, he had lost a tooth, all his subjects would be obliged to lose a tooth, and thus the invidious superiority of the subjects over the king would be cancelled. A rule of this sort is still observed in the same region at the court of the Sultans of Darfur. When the Sultan coughs, every one makes the sound ts ts by striking the tongue against the root of the upper teeth; when he sneezes, the whole assembly utters a sound like the cry of the jeko; when he falls off his horse, all his followers must fall off likewise; if any one of them remains in the saddle, no matter how high his rank, he is laid on the ground and beaten.” At the court of the
king of Uganda in Central Africa, when the king laughs,
every one laughs; when he sneezes, every one sneezes; when he has a cold, every one pretends to have a cold; when he has his hair cut, so has everybody.” At the court of Boni in Celebes it is a rule that whatever the king does all the courtiers must do. If he stands, they stand ; if he sits, they sit; if he falls off his horse, they fall off their horses; if he bathes, they bathe, and passers-by must go into the water in the dress, good or bad, which they happen to have on." But to return to the death of the divine king. Many days' journey to the north-east of Abomey, the old capital of Dahomey, lies the kingdom of Eyeo. “The Eyeos are governed by a king, no less absolute than the king of
* Strabo, xvii. 2. 3.; Diodorus, iii. 7.
* Mohammed Ebn-Omar El-Tounsy, Voyage au Darfour (Paris, 1845), p. 162 sq.; Travels of an Arab J/erchant in Soudan, abridged from the French by Bayle St John (London, 1854), p. 78; Bulletin de la Société de Géographie (Paris) IVme Série, iv. (1852), p. 539 sy.
* R. W. Felkin, “Notes on the Waganda Tribe of Central Africa,” in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Ædin
burgh, xiii. (1884-1886), p. 711.
* Marrative of Events in Borneo and Celebes, from the Journal of James Brooke, Esq., Kajah of Sarawak, by Captain R. Mundy, i. 134. My friend Mr. Lorimer Fison, in a letter of August 26th, 1898, tells me that the custom of falling down whenever a chief fell was observed also in Fiji, where it had a special name, hale muri, “fall-follow.”
i i i ATINGS AT/L/LED 13
Dahomy, yet subject to a regulation of state, at once humiliating and extraordinary. When the people have conceived an opinion of his ill-government, which is sometimes insidiously infused into them by the artifice of his discontented ministers, they send a deputation to him with a present of parrots' eggs, as a mark of its authenticity, to represent to him that the burden of government must have so far fatigued him that they consider it full time for him to repose from his cares and indulge himself with a little sleep. He thanks his subjects for their attention to his ease, retires to his own apartment as if to sleep, and there gives directions to his women to strangle him. This is immediately executed, and his son quietly ascends the throne upon the usual terms of holding the reins of government no longer than whilst he merits the approbation of the people.” About the year 1774, a king of Eyeo, whom his ministers attempted to remove in the customary manner, positively refused to accept the proffered parrots' eggs at their hands, telling them that he had no mind to take a nap, but on the contrary was resolved to watch for the benefit of his subjects. The Ministers, surprised and indignant at his recalcitrancy, raised a rebellion, but were defeated with great slaughter, and thus by his spirited conduct the king freed himself from the tyranny of his councillors and established a new precedent for the guidance of his successors." The old Prussians acknowledged as their supreme lord a ruler who governed them in the name of the gods, and was known as God's Mouth (Kirwaido). When he felt himself weak and ill, if he wished to leave a good name behind him, he had a great heap made of thorn-bushes and straw, on which he mounted and delivered a long sermon to the people, exhorting them to serve the gods and promising to go to the gods and speak for the people. Then he took some of the perpetual fire which burned in front of the holy oak-tree, and lighting the pile with it burned himself to death.” In the cases hitherto described, the divine king or priest is suffered by his people to retain office until some outward
* A. Dalzel, History of Dahomy * Simon Grunau, Preuss; sche Chro(London, 1793), pp. 12 y., 156 sq. nik, herausgegeben von Dr. M. Perlbach (Leipsic, 1876), i. p. 97.