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III - JDREAD OF ME ZEORS 19

as the friend of Zeus,' we shall be disposed to concur in the opinion of the illustrious German scholar, whom I have just cited, that the quaint Spartan practice is much more than a mere antiquarian curiosity; it is the attenuated survival of an institution which may once have had great significance, and it throws an important light on the restrictions and limitations anciently imposed by religion on the Dorian kingship. What exactly was the import of a meteor in the opinion of the old Dorians we can hardly hope to determine; one thing. only is clear, they regarded it as a portent of so ominous and threatening a kind that its appearance under certain circumstances justified and even required the deposition of their king. This exaggerated dread of so simple a natural phenomenon is shared by many savages at the present day; and we shall hardly err in supposing that the Spartans inherited it from their barbarous ancestors, who may have watched with consternation, on many a starry night among the woods of Germany, the flashing of a meteor through the sky. Shooting stars and meteors are viewed with apprehension by the natives of the Andaman Islands, who suppose them to be lighted faggots hurled into the air by the malignant spirit of the woods in order to ascertain the whereabouts of any unhappy wight in his vicinity. Hence if they happen to be away from their camp when the meteor is seen, they hide themselves and remain silent for a little before they venture to resume the work they were at ; for example, if they are out fishing they will crouch at the bottom of the boat.” When the Baronga of South Africa see a shooting star they spit on the ground to avert the evil omen, and cry, “Go away ! go away all alone !” By this they mean that the light, which is so soon to disappear, is not to take them with it, but to go and die by itself.” The Namaquas “are greatly afraid of the meteor which is vulgarly called a falling star,

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êvvéopos Baa Beve Atós ueyá\ov daptaris. Homer, Odyssey, xix. 178 sy. There

is some difference of opinion as to the

exact meaning to be given to évvéwpos'

Müller's interpretation, which agrees
with that of the author of the dialogue
Minos (p. 319 D E) attributed to Plato.
* E. Man, Aboriginal Inhabitants
of the Andaman /slands, p. 84 sq.
* H. A. Junod, Les Ba-ronga, p. 47.o.

for they consider it a sign that sickness is coming upon the cattle, and to escape it they will immediately drive them to some other parts of the country. They call out to the star how many cattle they have, and beg of it not to send sickness.” The Bechuanas are also much alarmed at the appearance of a meteor. If they happen to be dancing in the open air at the time, they will instantly desist and retire hastily to their huts.” When the Laughlan Islanders see a shooting star they make a great noise, for they think it is the old woman who lives in the moon coming down to earth. to catch somebody who may relieve her of her duties in the moon while she goes away to the happy spirit-land.” In Vedic India a meteor was believed to be the incarnation of a demon, and on its appearance certain hymns or incantations, supposed to possess the power of killing demons, were recited for the purpose of expiating the prodigy.” The aborigines of New South Wales attributed great importance to the falling of a star.” Some of the Esthonians at the present day regard shooting stars as evil spirits.” By some Indians of California meteors were called “children of the moon,” and whenever young women saw one of them they fell to the ground and covered

their heads, fearing that, if the meteor saw them, their faces

would become ugly and diseased." When a German traveller was living with the Bororos of Central Brazil, a splendid meteor fell, spreading dismay through the Indian village. It was believed to be the soul of a dead medicine-man, who suddenly appeared in this form to announce that he wanted meat, and that, as a preliminary measure, he proposed to visit somebody with an attack of dysentery. Its appearance was greeted with yells from a hundred throats; men, women, and children swarmed out of their huts like ants whose nest has been disturbed ; and soon watch-fires blazed, round

1 J. Campbell, Travels in South Africa (London, 1815), p. 428 sq.

* Id., Travels in South Africa, Second /ourney (London, 1822), ii. 2O4.

3 W. Tetzlaff, “Notes on the Laughlan Islands,” in Annual Report on British New Guinea, 1890-1891 (Brisbane, 1892), p. Ios.

* H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des Jeda, p. 267.

* D. Collins, Account of the English Colony in Mew South Wales (London, 1804), p. 383.

* Holzmayer, “Osiliana,” Verhand. Iungen der gelehrten Estnischen Gesell. schaft zu Dorpat, vii. (1872), p. 48.

* Boscana, “Chinigchinich, a historical account of the origin, etc., of the Indians of St. Juan Capistrano,” in A. Robinson's Life in California (New York, 1846), p. 299.

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which at a little distance groups of dusky figures gathered, while in the middle, thrown into strong relief by the flickering light of the fire, two red-painted sorcerers reeled and staggered in a state of frantic excitement, snorting and spitting towards the quarter of the sky where the meteor had run its brief but brilliant course. Pressing his right hand to his yelling mouth, each of them held aloft in his extended left, by way of propitiating the angry star, a bundle of cigarettes : “There !” they seemed to say, “all that tobacco will we give to ward off the impending visitation. Woe to you, if you do not leave us in peace.”" A widespread superstition associates meteors or falling stars with the souls of the dead. Often they are believed to be the spirits of the departed on their way to the other world. The Maoris imagine that at death the soul leaves the body and goes to the nether world in the form of a falling star.” One evening when Mr. Howitt was talking with an Australian black, a bright meteor was seen shooting through the sky. The native watched it and remarked, “An old blackfellow has fallen down there.” ” Among the Yerrunthally tribe of Queensland the ideas on this subject were even more definite. They thought that after death they went to a place away among the stars, and that to reach it they had to climb up a rope; when they had clambered up they let go the rope, which, as it fell from heaven, appeared to people on earth as a falling star." The Wambugwe of Eastern Africa fancy that the stars are men, of whom one dies whenever a star is seen to fall.” The Tinneh Indians and the Tchiglit Esquimaux of NorthWestern America believe that human life on earth is influenced by the stars, and they take a shooting star

1 K. von den Steinen, Unter den * E. Palmer, “Notes on some

Aaturvålkeru Zentral-Brasiliens, p.
514 37.
* Dieffenbach, Travels in Aero
Zealand, ii. 66. According to another
account, meteors are regarded by the
Maoris as betokening the presence of a
god (R. Taylor, Te Ika a .1/aui, or
Mew Zealand and its Inhabitants, p.
147).
* A. W. Howitt, in Brough Smyth's
Aborigines of Victoria, ii. 309.

Australian Tribes,” Journal of the . Inthropological /nstitute, xiii. (1884), p. 292. Sometimes apparently the Australian natives regard crystals or broken glass as fallen stars, and treasure them as powerful instruments of magic. See E. M. Curr, 7he Australian A'ace, iii.

29.

* O. Baumann, Durch Massailand zur Vilyuelle (Berlin, 1894), p. 188.

to be a sign that some one has died." In classical

antiquity there was a popular notion that every human being had his own star in the sky, which shone bright or dim according to his good or evil fortune, and fell in the form of a meteor when he died.” Ideas of the same sort are still commonly to be met with in Europe. Thus in some parts of Germany they say that at the birth of a man a new star is set in the sky, and that as it burns brilliantly or faintly he grows rich or poor; finally when he dies it drops from the sky in the likeness of a shooting star.” Similarly in Brittany, Transylvania, Bohemia, the Abruzzi, and the Esthonian island of Oesel it is thought by some that every man has his own particular star in the

sky, and that when it falls in the shape of a meteor he

expires.” In Styria they say that when a shooting star is seen a man has just died, or a poor soul been released from purgatory.” The Esthonians believe that if any one sees a falling star on New Year's night he will die or be visited by a serious illness that year." In Belgium and many parts of France the people suppose that a meteor is a soul which has just quitted the body, sometimes that it is specially the soul of an unbaptized infant or of some one who has died without absolution. At sight of it they say that you should cross yourself and

* E. Petitot, Monographie des Done-
Dindje (Paris, 1876), p. 6o ; id.,
Monographie des Esquimaux Tchiglit
(Paris, 1876), p. 24.
* Pliny, Mat. Hist. ii. 28.
* Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen
..]sythologie, ii. 293; Kuhn und
Schwartz, Morddeutsche Sagen, Marchen
und Gebräuche, p. 457, § 422; E. Meier,
19eutsche Sagen, Sitten und Gebräuche
aus Schwaben, p. 506, §§ 379, 38o.
* Sébillot, 7 raditions et Super-
stitions de la Haute-Bretagne, ii.
353 ; J. Haltrich, Zur Volkskunde der
Siebenbirger Sachsen (Vienna, 1885), p.
3oo; W. Schmidt, Das Jahr und seine
7age in Meinung und Brauch der
Aominen Siebenburgens, p. 38; E.
Gerard, 7%e Zand beyond the Forest,
i. 31 i ; Grohmann, Aberglauben und
Geóriuche aus Böhmen und Mahren,
p. 31, § 164; Br. Jelínek, “Material.

ien zur Vorgeschichte und Volkskunde
Böhmens,” Mittheilungen der anthropo-
logischen Gesellschaft in Wien, xxi.
(1891), p. 25; G. Finamore, Credence,
Osi e Costumi Abruzzesi, p. 47 sq.;
Holzmayer, “Osiliana,” Verhandl. der
gelehrten Estmischen Gesellschaft zu
Dorpat, vii. (1872), p. 48. The same
belief is said to prevail in Armenia.
See Minas Tchéraz, “Notes sur la
Mythologie Arménienne,” Transactions
of the AWinth International Congress of
Orientalists (London, 1893), ii. 824.
Bret Harte has employed the idea in
his little poem, “Relieving Guard.”
* A. Schlossar, “Volksmeinung und
Volksaberglaube aus der deutschen
Steiermark,” Germania, N.R., xxiv.
(1891), p. 389.
" Boecler - Kreutzwald, Der Ehsten
aberglaubische Gebräuche, Weisen und
Gevohnheiten, p. 73.

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iii. FALLING STARS 23

pray, or that if you wish for something while the star is falling you will be sure to get it." Among the Vosges Mountains in the warm nights of July it is not uncommon to see whole showers of shooting stars. It is generally agreed that these stars are souls, but some difference of opinion exists as to whether they are souls just taking leave of earth, or tortured by the fires of purgatory, or on their passage from purgatory to heaven.” The downward direction of their flight might naturally suggest a different goal ; and accordingly other people have seen in the transient flame of a meteor the descent of a soul from heaven to be born on earth. In the Punjaub, for example, Hindoos believe that the length of a soul's residence in the realms of bliss is exactly proportioned to the sums the man distributed in charity during his life; and that when these are exhausted his time in heaven is up, and down he comes.” In Polynesia a shooting star was held to be the flight of a spirit, and to presage the birth of a great prince." The Mandans of North America fancied that the stars were dead people, and that when a woman was brought to bed a star fell from heaven, and entering into her was born as a child.” On the Biloch frontier of the Punjaub each man is held to have his star, and he may not journey in particular directions when his star is in certain positions. If duty compels him to travel in the forbidden direction, he takes care before setting out to bury his star, or rather a figure of it cut out of cloth, so that it may not see what he is doing." Which, if any, of these superstitions moved the barbarous

1 E. Monseur, Le Folklore Wallon, p. 61 ; A. de Nore, Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de France, pp. IoI, 160,223,267, 284; B. Souché, Croyances, presageset traditions diverses, p. 23; P. Sébillot, Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne, ii. 352 ; J. Lecoeur, Esquisses du Bocage Mormand, ii. 13; L. Pineau, /o/k-lore du Poitou (Paris, 1892), p. 525 sq.

* L. F. Sauvé, Le Folk-sore des Hautes-Vosges, p. 196 sq. In the Abruzzi also some people think that falling stars are souls on their way from purgatory, and on seeing one they say, “God be with you.” See G. Finamore,

Credenze, Usi e Costumi Abruzzesi,
p. 48.
° North Indian Motes and Queries,
i. p. 1 oz., § 673. Compare id. p. 47,
§ 356; Indian Wotes and Queries, iv.
p. 184, § 674.
* W. Ellis, Polynesian Researches,
iii. 171.
* Maximilian Prinz zu Wied, Reise
in das Innere Nord-America, ii. 152.
It does not, however, appear from the
writer's statement whether the descent
of the soul was identified with the
flight of a meteor or not.
• D. C. J. Ibbetson, Outlines of
Panjab Ethnography, p. 1 18, § 231.

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