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pray, or that if you wish for something while the star is falling you will be sure to get it.1 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.2 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.8 In Polynesia a shooting star was held to be the flight of a spirit, and to presage the birth of a great prince.1 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.5 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.6

Which, if any, of these superstitions moved the barbarous Dorians of old to depose their kings whenever at a certain season a meteor flamed in the sky, we cannot say. Perhaps they had a vague general notion that its appearance signified the dissatisfaction of the higher powers with the state of the commonwealth; and since in primitive society the king is commonly held responsible for all untoward events, whatever their origin, the natural course was to relieve him of duties which he had proved himself incapable of discharging. But it may be that the idea in the minds of these rude barbarians was more definite. Possibly, like some people in Europe at the present day, they thought that every man had his star in the sky, and that he must die when it fell. The king would be no exception to the rule, and on a certain night of a certain year, at the end of a cycle, it might be customary to watch the sky in order to mark whether the king's star was still in the ascendant or near its setting. The appearance of a meteor on such a night—of a star precipitated from the celestial vault—might prove for the king not merely a symbol but a sentence of death. It might be the warrant for his execution.

1 E. Monseur, Lc Folklore Wallon, Credenze, Usi e Costumi Airuzzesi,

p. 61 ; A. de Nore, Ceutumes, Mythes p. 48.

it Traditions des Provinces de France, 3 North Indian Notes and Queries,

pp. IoI, 160,223,267, 284; B. Souche, i. p. 102, § 673. Compare id. p. 47,

Croyancesipresageset traditions direrses, § 356; Indian Notes and Queries, iv.

p. 23 ; P. Sebillot, Traditions et Super- p. 184, § 674.

stitiont de la Haute-Bretagne, ii. 352; * W. Ellis, Polynesian Researches,

J. Lecaeur, Esquisses du Bocage Nor- iii. 171.

mand, ii. 13; L. Pineau, Folk-lore 5 Maximilian Prinz zu Wied, Reisc

du Poitoa (Paris, 1892), p. 525 so. in das Innere Nord-America, ii. 152.

* L. F. SauvL, Le Folk-lore des It does not, however, appear from the

Hautes- Vosges, p. 196 so. In the writer's statement whether the descent

Ahmzzi also some people think that of the soul was identified with the

falling stars are souls on their way from flight of a meteor or not. purgatory, and on seeing one they say, • D. C. J. Ibbetson, Outlines of

"God be with you." See G. Finamore, Panjab Ethnography, p. 118, §231.

In some places it appears that the people could not trust the king to remain in full bodily and mental vigour for more than a year; hence at the end of a year's reign he was put to death, and a new king appointed to reign in his turn a year, and suffer death at the end of it . At least this is the conclusion to which the following evidence points. According to the historian Berosus, who as a Babylonian priest spoke with ample knowledge, there was annually celebrated in Babylon a festival called the Sacaea. It began on the sixteenth day of the month Lous, and lasted for five days. During these five days masters and servants changed places, the servants giving orders and the masters obeying them. A prisoner condemned to death was dressed in the king's robes, seated on the king's throne, allowed to issue whatever commands he pleased, to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, and to lie with the king's concubines. But at the end of the five days he was stripped of his royal robes, scourged, and hanged or crucified.1 This custom might perhaps have been explained as merely a grim jest perpetrated in a season of jollity at the expense of an unhappy criminal. But one circumstance—the leave given to the mock king to enjoy the king's concubines—is decisive against this interpretation. Considering the jealous seclusion of an oriental despot's harem we may be quite certain that permission to invade it would never have been granted by the despot, least of all to a condemned criminal, except for the very gravest cause. This cause could hardly be other than that the condemned man was about to die in the king's stead, and that to make the substitution perfect it was necessary he should enjoy the full rights of royalty during his brief reign. There is nothing surprising in this substitution. The rule that the king must be put to death either on the appearance of any symptom of bodily decay or at the end of a fixed period is certainly one which, sooner or later, the kings would seek to abolish or modify. We have seen that in Ethiopia, Sofala, and Eyeo the rule was boldly set aside by enlightened monarchs; and that in Calicut the old custom of killing the king at the end of twelve years was changed into a permission granted to any one at the end of the twelve years' period to attack the king, and, in the event of killing him, to reign in his stead; though, as the king took care at these times to be surrounded by his guards, the permission was little more than a form. Another way of modifying the stern old rule is seen in the Babylonian custom just described. When the time drew near for the king to be put to death (in Babylon this appears to have been at the end of a single year's reign) he abdicated for a few days, during which a temporary king reigned and suffered in his stead. At first the temporary king may have been an innocent person, possibly a member of the king's own family; but with the growth of civilisation the sacrifice of an innocent person would be revolting to the public sentiment, and accordingly a condemned criminal would be invested with the brief and fatal sovereignty. In the sequel we shall find other examples of a dying criminal representing a dying god. For we must not forget that the king is slain in his character of a god, his death and resurrection, as the only means of perpetuating the divine life unimpaired, being deemed necessary for the salvation of his people and the world.

1 Athenacus, xiv. p. 639 c; Dio Chiysostom, Orat. iv. p. 69 io. (vol. i.

p. 76, ed. Dindorf). Dio Chrysostom does not mention his authority, but it

was probably either Berosus or Ctesias. meaning of the Zanes at Olympia, as

The execution of the mock king is not to which see Pausanias, v. 21. 2. The

noticed in the passage of Berosus cited Babylonian custom, so far as appears

by Athenaeus, probably because the from our authorities, does not date

mention of it was not germane to from before the Persian conquest of

Athenaeus's purpose, which was simply Babylon; but probably it was much

to give a list of festivals at which mas- older. In the passage of Dio Chry

ters waited on their servants. That the sostom ixptfiaaay should perhaps be

{uyirip was put to death is further translated " crucified " (or "impaled ")

shown by Macrobius, Sat. iii. 7. 6, rather than "hanged"; at least the

"Animas vero saeratorum hominum former seems to have been the regular

Quos t zanas Graeci vacant, dis debitas sense of KpefiArvvtu as applied to

aestimabant," where for zanas we should executions. See Plutarch, Caesar, 2.

probably read {iayirai with Liebrecht, But while crucifixion was a Roman

in Philologus, xxii. 710, and Bachofen, mode of execution, it may be doubted

Die Snip ivn Tanaquil, p. 52, note whether it was also an Oriental one.

16. The reading zanas is, however, Hanging was certainly an Oriental

defended by J. Bernays (Hermes, ix. punishment. See Esther v. 14, vii. 9

(1875) 127 so.), who suggests that so..; Deuteronomy xxi. 22 si/. ; Joshua

Macrobius may have misunderstood the viii. 29, x. 26.

The conclusion to which the Babylonian evidence seems to point will hardly appear extravagant or improbable when we learn that at the end of the nineteenth century there is still a kingdom in which the reign and the life of the sovereign are limited to a single day. In Ngoio, a province of the ancient kingdom of Congo in West Africa, the rule obtains that the chief who assumes the cap of sovereignty one day shall be put to death on the next. The right of succession lies with the chief of the Musurongo; but we need not wonder that he does not exercise it, and that the throne stands vacant. "No one likes to lose his life for a few hours' glory on the Ngoio throne." l

In some places the modified form of the old custom which appears to have prevailed at Babylon has been further softened down. The king still abdicates annually for a short time and his place is filled by a more or less nominal sovereign; but at the close of his short reign the latter is no longer killed, though sometimes a mock execution still survives as a memorial of the time when he was actually put to death. To take examples. In the month of Meac (February) the King of Cambodia annually abdicated for three days. During this time he performed no act of authority, he did not touch the seals, he did not even receive the revenues which fell due. In his stead there reigned a temporary king called Sdach Meac, that is, King February. The office of temporary king was hereditary in a family distantly connected with the royal house, the sons succeeding the fathers and the younger brothers the elder brothers, just as in the succession to the real sovereignty. On a favourable day fixed by the astrologers the temporary king was conducted by the mandarins in triumphal procession. He rode one of the royal elephants, seated in the royal palanquin, and escorted by soldiers who, dressed in appropriate costumes, represented the neighbouring peoples of Siam, Annam, Laos, and so on. In place of the golden crown he wore a peaked white cap, and his regalia, instead of being of gold encrusted with diamonds, were of rough wood. After paying homage to the real king, from whom he received the sovereignty for three days, together with all the revenues accruing during that time (though this last custom has been omitted for some time), he moved in procession round the palace and through the streets of the capital. On the third day, after the usual procession, the temporary king gave orders that the elephants should trample under foot the "mountain of rice," which was a scaffold of bamboo surrounded by sheaves of rice. The people gathered up the rice, each man taking home a little with him to secure a good harvest. Some of it was also taken to the king, who had it cooked and presented to the monks.1

1 R. E. Dennett, Notes on the Folk- cular custom, and informed me that she

lore of the Fjort, with an introduction was personally acquainted with the chief

by Mary H. Kingsley (London, 1898), who possesses but declines to exercise

p. xxxii. Miss Kingsley in conversa- the right of succession, tion called my attention to this parti

In Siam on the sixth day of the moon in the sixth month (the end of April) a temporary king is appointed, who for three days enjoys the royal prerogatives, the real king remaining shut up in his palace. This temporary king sends his numerous satellites in all directions to seize and confiscate whatever they can find in the bazaar and open shops; even the ships and junks which arrive in harbour

1 E. Aymonier, Notice siir If Cam- of the temporary king's family with the bodge, p. 61; J. Moura, I.c Royaume dn royal house, see Aymonier, op. cit. p. Cambodge, i. 327 ii/. For the connection 36 so.

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