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by saying that his mother was a woman named Myrrh, who had been turned into a myrrh-tree soon after she had conceived the child.1 Again the story that Adonis spent half, or according to others a third, of the year in the lower world and the rest of it in the upper world,2 is explained most simply and naturally by supposing that he represented vegetation, especially the corn, which lies buried in the earth half the year and reappears above ground the other half. Certainly of the annual phenomena of nature there is none which suggests so obviously the idea of a yearly death and resurrection as the disappearance and reappearance of vegetation in autumn and spring. Adonis has been taken for the sun; but there is nothing in the sun's annual course within the temperate and tropical zones to suggest that he is dead for half or a third of the year and alive for the other half or two-thirds. He might, indeed, be conceived as weakened in winter, but dead he could not be thought to be; his daily reappearance contradicts the supposition. Within the Arctic Circle, where the sun annually disappears for a continuous period which varies from twenty-four hours to six months according to the latitude, his annual death and resurrection would certainly be an obvious idea; but no one has suggested that the Adonis worship came from the Arctic regions. On the other hand, the annual death and revival of vegetation is a conception which readily presents itself to men in every stage of savagery and civilisation; and the vastness of the scale on which this yearly decay and regeneration takes place, together with man's intimate dependence on it for subsistence, combine to render it the most striking annual phenomenon in nature, at least within the temperate zones. It is no wonder that a phenomenon so important, so striking, and so universal should, by suggesting similar ideas, have given rise to similar rites in many lands. We may, therefore, accept as probable an explanation of the Adonis worship which accords so well with the facts of nature and with the analogy of similar rites in other lands, and which besides is countenanced by a considerable body of opinion amongst the ancients themselves.1 The character of Tammuz or Adonis as a corn-spirit comes out plainly in an account of his festival given by an Arabic writer of the tenth century. In describing the rites and sacrifices observed at the different seasons of the year by the heathen Syrians of Harran, he says:—" Tammuz (July). In the middle of this month is the festival of el-Bugat, that is, of the weeping women, and this is the Ta-uz festival, which is celebrated in honour of the god Ta-uz. The women bewail him, because his lord slew him so cruelly, ground his bones in a mill, and then scattered them to the wind. The women (during this festival) eat nothing which has been ground in a mill, but limit their diet to steeped wheat, sweet vetches, dates, raisins, and the like."2 Ta-uz, who is no other than Tammuz, is here like Burns's John Barleycorn—
1 Apollodorus, Biblioth. iii. 14. 4; Schol. on Theocritus, i. 109; Antoninus Liberalis, Transform.^; Tzetzes, Schol. on Lycophron, 829; Ovid, Metam. x. 489 sqq.; Servius on Virgil, Aen. v. 72, and on Itucol. x. 18; Hyginus, Fab. 58,164; Kulgentius, iii. 8. The word Myrrha or Smyrna is borrowed from the Phoenician (Liddell and Scott, Greek
Lexicon, s.v. cfivpva). Hence the mother's name, as well as the son's, was taken directly from the Semites.
2 Schol. on Theocritus, iii. 48: Hyginus, Astronom. ii. 7; Lucian, Dialog, deor. xi. I; Cornutus, De natura deorum, 28, p. 163 sq, ed. Osannus; Apollodorus, iii. 14. 4.
"They wasted o'er a scorching flame
For he crush'd him between two stones." 8
But perhaps the best proof that Adonis was a deity of vegetation is furnished by the gardens of Adonis, as they were called. These were baskets or pots filled with earth, in which wheat, barley, lettuces, fennel, and various kinds of flowers were sown and tended for eight days, chiefly or exclusively by women. Fostered by the sun's heat, the plants shot up rapidly, but having no root withered as rapidly away, and at the end of eight days were carried out with the images of the dead Adonis, and flung with them into the sea or into springs.1 At Athens these ceremonies were observed at midsummer. For we know that the fleet which Athens fitted out against Syracuse, and by the destruction of which her power was permanently crippled, sailed at midsummer, and by an ominous coincidence the sombre rites of Adonis were being celebrated at the very time. As the troops marched down to the harbour to embark, the streets through which they passed were lined with coffins and corpse-like effigies, and the air was rent with the noise of women wailing for the dead Adonis. The circumstance cast a gloom over the sailing of the most splendid armament that Athens ever sent to sea.2
1 Schol. on Theocritus, iii. 48, m/ fabiilae fingunt, apri dente ferali
6 *A8vvit, ifyovv 6 triros 6 ffreipbfuvos, dcleto, quod in adnlto Jlore sectarum est
t£ M^is i» T$ TV roi« dri rip eropat indicium friigum." Clemens Alexandr.
»oi <| pijvas fx" vMv i AippoSlrti, Hom. 6. 11 (quoted by W. Mann
rOVrttmv i) cvKpaota Tov dipot. Kal hardt, Antike Wald- und Feldkulte, p.
iKrbrc \apf-idvovatv avrbv oi tvSparoi. 281): \anfiavoviri hi <rol 'kSiMiv tit
Jerome on Ezech. c. viii. 14: "Eadem wpaioii aaproit. Etymolog. Magn. s.v.
gentilitas hujusccmoiiifabulaspoetarunt, "AJoint Kvptaf JiVarat «ral o <roproj
quae habeut turpitudiuem,interpretatur ilvai aSwvif oiov dSwvuot raprot,
subtiliterinterfectionemctresurrectioncm i^»w. Eusebius, Praepar. Evang.
Adonidis plamtn et gandio proscquens: iii. II. 9: 'Atvvit rrjt rwv rt\clwv
quorum alterum in seminibui, quae Kaprlv (Krofiip ffiVjSoXov.
moriuntnr in terra, alterum in seireti- ., _, «. , , ^. - ,. ,
. .,' , - D. Chwolsohn, Die Stabier und
bus, quibus mortua semiua renascuntur. , _ ,. .. ., ,.,
. j-+ . .n , \i „• der Ssabtsmus, 11. 27; id., Leber
ostendi putat. Amrmanus Marcellinus, _. . , ,. ., , ,
'., . ,, ., ,, ... Tammuz und die .iteiisc1ienvennninr
xix. I. It: "in sollemntbus Adonidis ... ,. D •• „o
... ,. , bet den aJten Habylonieru, p. 38.
sams, quod simulacrum aliquod esse J r J
frugum adultarum religiones mystical 'The comparison is due to Felix
docent." Id.,xxii.9.1$:"amali,I'eneris, Liebrecht (Zur Volksiunde, p. 259).
These gardens of Adonis are most naturally interpreted as representatives of Adonis or manifestations of his power; they represented him, true to his original nature, in vegetable form, while the images of him, with which they were carried out and cast into the water, represented him in his later human form. All these Adonis ceremonies, if I am right, were originally intended as charms to promote the growth and revival of vegetation; and the principle by which they were supposed to produce this effect was imitative or sympathetic magic. As I explained in the first chapter, primitive people suppose that by representing or mimicking the effect which they desire to produce they actually help to produce it; thus by sprinkling water they make rain, by lighting a fire they make sunshine, and so on. Similarly, by mimicking the growth of crops they hope to ensure a good harvest. The rapid growth of the wheat and barley in the gardens of Adonis was intended to make the corn shoot up; and the throwing of the gardens and of the images into the water was a charm to secure a due supply of fertilising rain.1 The same, I take it, was the object of throwing the effigies of Death and the Carnival into water in the corresponding ceremonies of modern Europe. We have seen that the custom of drenching with water a leafclad person, who undoubtedly personifies vegetation, is still resorted to in Europe for the express purpose of producing rain.2 Similarly the custom of throwing water on the last corn cut at harvest, or on the person who brings it home (a custom observed in Germany and France, and till quite lately in England and Scotland), is in some places practised with the avowed intent to procure rain for the next year's crops. Thus in Wallachia and amongst the Roumanians of Transylvania, when a girl is bringing home a crown made of the last ears of corn cut at harvest, all who meet her hasten to throw water on her, and two farm-servants are placed at the door for the purpose; for they believe that if this were not done, the crops next year would perish from drought.8 So amongst the Saxons of Transylvania, the person who wears the wreath made of the last corn cut (sometimes the reaper who cut the last corn also wears the wreath) is drenched with water to the skin; for the wetter he is the better will be next year's harvest, and the more grain there will be threshed out.1 In Northern Euboea, when the cornsheaves have been piled in a stack, the farmer's wife brings a pitcher of water and offers it to each of the labourers that he may wash his hands. Every man, after he has washed his hands, sprinkles water on the corn and on the threshingfloor, expressing at the same time a wish that the corn may last long. Lastly, the farmer's wife holds the pitcher slantingly and runs at full speed round the stack without spilling a drop, while she utters a wish that the stack may endure as long as the circle she has just described.2 At the spring ploughing in Prussia, when the ploughmen and sowers returned in the evening from their work in the fields, the farmer's wife and the servants used to splash water over them. The ploughmen and sowers retorted by seizing every one, throwing them into the pond, and ducking them under the water. The farmer's wife might claim exemption on payment of a forfeit; but every one else had to be ducked. By observing this custom they hoped to ensure a due supply of rain for the seed.8 Also after harvest in Prussia, the person who wore a wreath made of the last corn cut was drenched with water, while a prayer was uttered that "as the corn had sprung up and multiplied through the water, so it might spring up and multiply in the barn and granary."4 At Schlanow, in Brandenburg, when the sowers return home from the first sowing they are drenched with water "in order that the corn may grow."5 In Anhalt on the same occasion the farmer is still often sprinkled with water by his family; and his men and horses and even the plough receive the same treatment. The object of the custom, as people at Arensdorf explained it, is "to wish fertility to the fields for the whole year."'"'
1 For the authorities see Raoul I.e.; Julian, Convivium, p. 329 ed. Rochelte, "Memoire sur les jardins Spanheim (p. 423 ed. Hertlein); Fuel'Adonis," Revtu Archiologiaue, viii. stathius on Homer, Od. xi. 590. On the (1851), pp. 97-123; W. Mannhardt, other hand, Apostolus and Diogenianus Antike Wold- und Feldkulte, p. 279, (11.a .) vny </;rrii'oir<t i) Qirrefavoan. The note 2, and p. 280, note 2. To the procession at the festival of Adonis is authorities cited by Mannhardt add mentioned in an Attic description of Theophrastus, Hist. Plant, vi. 7. 3; 302 or 301 B.C. (Dittenberger, Sylloge id., De l amis Plant, i. 12. 2; Gre- Inscriptionum Graecarnm, No. 427). gorius Cyprius, i. 7; Macarius, i. 63;
Apostolius, i. 34; Diogenianus, i. 14; '-' Plutarch, Akibiades, 18; id.,
Plutarch, De sera num. vind. 17. Nicias, 13. The date of the sailing of
Women only are mentioned as plant- the fleet is given by Thucydides, vi. 30,
ing the gardens of Adonis by Plutarch, Oipoit fuaovrm ijSi).
1 In hot southern countries like Tagc in Meinung und Branch der
Egypt and the Semitic regions of Romiineii Siebenbiirgens, p. 18 si/.
Western Asia, where vegetation de- The custom of throwing water on the
pends chiefly or entirely upon irriga- last waggon-load of cor n returning from
tion, the purpose of the charm is the harvest-field has been practised
doubtless to secure a plentiful flow wiihin living memory in Wigtownshire,
of water in the streams. But as the and at Orwell in Cambridgeshire. See
ultimate object and the charms for Folk-lore Journal, vii. (1889), pp. SO,
securing it are the same in both cases, 51. (In the first of these passages the
it has not been thought necessary Orwell at which the custom used to be
always to point out the distinction. observed is said to be in Kent; this
« c , . was a mistake of mine, which my
- See vol. .. p. 94 m- informant, the Rev. E. B. Kirks,
'W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. formerly Fellow of Trinily College.
214 ; W. Schmidt, Das/air und scine Cambridge, afterwards corrected.)
1 G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Siiten und Gcbrauehe unter den Saehsen Siebenbiirgens (Herman stadt, 1880), p. 24; Wlislocki, Sitten und Branch der Siebenbiirger Sachsen (Hamburg, 1888), p. 32.
1 G. Drosinis, Land und Leutc in Nord-Eubiia (Leipsic, 1884), p. 53.
s Matthaus Praetorius, Deliciae Pmssuae, p. 55; W. Mannhardt, Baimi
kult in, p. 214 sq., note.
4 Praetorius, op. tit. p. 60; W. Mannliardt, Banmkultus, p. 215, note.
4 H. Prahn, "Glaube und Hrauch in der Mark Hrandenburg," Zeitschri/t des Vercins fiir I'olkskunde, i. (1891), p. 186.
0 O. Hartung, "Zur Yolkskundcaus Anhalt,-' Zeiischrift des Vercins fiir Volkskunde, vii. (1897), p. 150.