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older practice of performing, among the sprouting crops in spring or the stubble in autumn, one of those real or mimic acts of procreation by which, as we have seen, primitive man often seeks to infuse his own vigorous life into the languid or decaying energies of nature. Another glimpse of the savage under the civilised Demeter will be afforded farther on, when we come to deal with another aspect of these agricultural divinities.
The reader may have observed that in modern folkcustoms the corn-spirit is generally represented either by a Corn-mother (Old Woman, etc.) or by a Maiden (Harvestchild, etc.), not both by a Corn-mother and by a Maiden. Why then did the Greeks represent the corn both as a mother and a daughter?
In the Breton custom the mother-sheaf—a large figure made out of the last sheaf with a small corn-doll inside of it—clearly represents both the Corn-mother and the Corndaughter, the latter still unborn.1 Again, in the Prussian custom just referred to, the woman who plays the part of Corn-mother represents the ripe grain; the child appears to represent next year's corn, which may be regarded, naturally enough, as the child of this year's corn, since it is from the seed of this year's harvest that next year's crop will spring. Further, we have seen that among the Malays of the Peninsula and sometimes among the Highlanders of Scotland the spirit of the grain is represented in double female form, both as old and young, by means of ears taken alike from the ripe crop: in Scotland the old spirit of the corn appears as the Carline or Cailleach, the young spirit as the Maiden; while among the Malays of the Peninsula the two spirits of the rice are
definitely related to each other as mother and child.1 Judged
by these analogies Demeter would be the ripe crop of this
year; Proserpine would be the seed-corn taken from it and
sown in autumn, to reappear in spring. The descent of Pro-
serpine into the lower world2 would thus be a mythical
expression for the sowing of the seed; her reappearance in
spring8 would signify the sprouting of the young corn.
In this way the Proserpine of one year becomes the Demeter
of the next, and this may very well have been the original
form of the myth. But when with the advance of religious
thought the corn came to be personified, no longer as a
being that went through the whole cycle of birth, growth,
reproduction, and death within a year, but as an immortal
goddess, consistency requires that one of the two personifi-
cations, the mother or the daughter, should be sacrificed.
However, the double conception of the corn as mother and
daughter may have been too old and too deeply rooted in
the popular mind to be eradicated by logic, and so room
had to be found in the reformed myth both for mother
and daughter. This was done by assigning to Proserpine
the character of the corn sown in autumn and sprouting in
spring, while Demeter was left to play the somewhat vague
part of the heavy mother of the corn, who laments its annual
disappearance underground, and rejoices over its reappear-
ance in spring. Thus instead of a regular succession of
divine beings, each living a year and then giving birth to her
successor, the reformed myth exhibits the conception of two
divine and immortal beings, one of whom annually disappears
into and reappears from the ground, while the other has little
to do but to weep and rejoice at the appropriate seasons.
This theory of the double personification of the corn
in Greek myth assumes that both personifications (Demeter
and Proserpine) are original. But if we suppose that the
Greek myth started with a single personification, the after-
growth of a second personification may perhaps be explained as follows. On looking over the harvest customs which have been passed under review, it may be noticed that they involve two distinct conceptions of the corn-spirit. For whereas in some of the customs the corn-spirit is treated as immanent in the corn, in others it is regarded as external to it. Thus when a particular sheaf is called by the name of the cornspirit, and is dressed in clothes and handled with reverence,1 the spirit is clearly regarded as immanent in the corn. But when the spirit is said to make the crops grow by passing through them, or to blight the grain of those against whom she has a grudge,2 she is apparently conceived as distinct from, though exercising power over,-the corn. Conceived in the latter way the corn-spirit is in a fair way to become a deity of the corn, if she has not become so already. Of these two conceptions, that of the corn-spirit as immanent in the corn is doubtless the older, since the view of nature as animated by indwelling spirits appears to have generally preceded the view of it as controlled by external deities; to put it shortly, animism precedes deism. In the harvest customs of our European peasantry the corn-spirit appears to be conceived now as immanent in the corn and now as external to it. In Greek mythology, on the other hand, Demeter is viewed rather as the deity of the corn than as the spirit immanent in it.8 The process of thought which leads to the change from the one mode of conception to the other is anthropomorphism, or the gradual investment of the immanent spirits with more and more of the attributes of humanity. As men emerge from savagery the tendency to humanise their divinities gains strength; and the more human these become the wider is the breach which severs them from the natural objects of which they were at first merely the animating spirits or souls. But in the progress
upwards from savagery, men of the same generation do not march abreast; and though the new anthropomorphic gods may satisfy the religious wants of the more developed intelligences, the backward members of the community will cling by preference to the old animistic notions. Now when the spirit of any natural object such as the corn has been invested with human qualities, detached from the object, and converted into a deity controlling it, the object itself is, by the withdrawal of its spirit, left inanimate; it becomes, so to say, a spiritual vacuum. But the popular fancy, intolerant of such a vacuum, in other words, unable to conceive anything as inanimate, immediately creates a fresh mythical being, with which it peoples the vacant object. Thus the same natural object comes to be represented in mythology by two distinct beings; first, by the old spirit now separated from it and raised to the rank of a deity; second, by the new spirit, freshly created by the popular fancy to supply the place vacated by the old spirit on its elevation to a higher sphere. The problem for mythology now is, having got two distinct personifications of the same object, what to do with them? How are their relations to each other to be adjusted, and room found for both in the mythological system? When the old spirit or new deity is conceived as creating or producing the object in question, the problem is easily solved. Since the object is believed to be produced by the old spirit, and animated by the new one, the latter, as the soul of the object, must also owe its existence to the former; thus the old spirit will stand to the new one as producer to produced, that is, in mythology, as parent to child, and if both spirits are conceived as female, their relation will be that of mother and daughter. In this way, starting from a single personification of the corn as female, mythic fancy might in time reach a double personification of it as mother and daughter. It would be very rash to affirm that this was the way in which the myth of Demeter and Proserpine actually took shape; but it seems a legitimate conjecture that the reduplication of deities, of which Demeter and Proserpine furnish an example, may sometimes have arisen in the way indicated. For example, among the pairs of deities whom we have been considering, it has been shown that there
are grounds for regarding both Isis and her companion god Osiris as personifications of the corn.1 On the hypothesis just suggested, Isis would be the old corn-spirit, and Osiris would be the newer one, whose relationship to the old spirit was variously explained as that of brother, husband, and son ;2 for of course mythology would always be free to account for the coexistence of the two divinities in more ways than one. Further, this hypothesis offers at least a possible explanation of the relation of Virbius to the Arician Diana. The latter, as we have seen,8 was a tree-goddess; and if, as I have conjectured, the Flamen Virbialis was no other than the priest of Nemi himself, that is, the King of the Wood, Virbius must also have been a tree-spirit. On the present hypothesis he was the newer tree-spirit, whose relation to the old tree-spirit (Diana) was explained by representing him as her favourite or lover. It must not, however, be forgotten that this proposed explanation of such pairs of deities as Demeter and Proserpine, Isis and Osiris, Diana and Virbius, is purely conjectural, and is only given for what it is worth.
§ 9. Lityerses
In the preceding pages an attempt has been made to show that in the Corn-mother and harvest-Maiden of Northern Europe we have the prototypes of Demeter and Proserpine. But an essential feature is still wanting to complete the resemblance. A leading incident in the Greek myth is the death and resurrection of Proserpine; it is this incident which, coupled with the nature of the goddess as a deity of vegetation, links the myth with the cults of Adonis, Attis, Osiris, and Dionysus; and it is in virtue of this incident that the myth is considered in this chapter. It remains, therefore, to see whether the conception of the annual death and resurrection of a god, which figures so prominently in these great Greek and Oriental worships, has not also its origin in the rustic rites observed by reapers and vine-dressers amongst the corn-shocks and the vines.