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describing the Indians of the Peruvian valleys between San-Miguel and Caxamalca, records that “they have disgusting sacrifices and temples of idols which they hold in great veneration ; they offer them their most precious possessions. Every month they sacrifice their own children and smear with the blood of the victims the face of the idols and the doors of the temples.” Among the ancient Italian peoples, especially of the Sabine stock, it was customary in seasons of great peril or public calamity, as when the crops had failed or a pestilence was raging, to vow that they would sacrifice to the gods every creature, whether man or beast, that should be born in the following spring. To the creatures thus devoted to sacrifice the name of “the sacred spring" was applied. “But since,” says Festus, “it seemed cruel to slay innocent boys and girls, they were kept till they had grown up, then veiled and driven beyond the boundaries.” Several Italian peoples, for example the Piceni, Samnites, and Hirpini, traced their origin to a “sacred spring,” that is, to the consecrated youth who had swarmed off from the parent stock in consequence of such a vow.” When the Romans were engaged in a life-and-death struggle with Hannibal after their great defeat at the Trasimene Lake, they vowed to offer a “sacred spring" if victory should attend their arms and the commonwealth should retrieve its shattered fortunes. But the vow extended only to all the offspring of sheep, goats, oxen, and swine that should be brought forth on Italian mountains, plains, and meadows
the following spring.” On
a later occasion, when the
1 Fr. Xeres, Aelation réridique de /a conquête du Perou et de la Province de Cuzco nommée Aouzelle-Castille (in Ternaux-Compans's Poyages, A’elations et Mémoires, etc., Paris, 1837), p. 53.
* Festus, De zerborum significatione, ed. Müller, p. 379, compare p. 158; Servius on Virgil, .4en. vii. 796; Nonius Marcellus, s.r. “ver sacrum,” p. 522 (p. 6 io, ed. Quicherat); Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Amtiquit. Atom. i. 16. Dionysius says that many Greek and barbarian peoples had practised the same custom.
* Strabo, v. 4. 2 and 1.2: Pliny, War.
Hist. iii. 1 Io; Festus, Designif. verb.. ed. Müller, p. 106. It is worthy of note that the three swarms which afterwards developed into the Piceni, the Samnites, and the Hirpini were said to have been guided by a woodpecker, a bull, and a wolf respectively, of which the woodpecker (picus) and the wolf (hirpus) gave their names to the Piceni and the Hirpini. The tradition may perhaps preserve a trace of totemism, but in the absence of clearer evidence it would be rash to assume that it does so.
* Livy, xxii. 9 sq.; Plutarch, Fabius
Romans pledged themselves again by a similar vow, it was decided that by the “sacred spring ” should be meant all the cattle born between the first day of March and the last day of April." Although within historical memory the Italian peoples appear to have resorted to measures of this sort only in special emergencies, it seems not impossible that at an earlier time they may, like the Hebrews and perhaps the Semites in general, have been in the habit of dedicating all the firstborn, whether of man or beast, and sacrificing them at a great festival in spring.” With the preceding evidence before us we may safely infer that a custom of allowing a king to kill his son, as a substitute or vicarious sacrifice for himself, would be in no way exceptional or surprising, at least in Semitic lands, where indeed religion seems at one time to have recommended or enjoined every man, as a duty that he owed to his god, to take the life of his eldest son. And it would be entirely in accordance with analogy if, long after the barbarous custom had been dropped by others, it continued to be observed by kings, who remain in many respects the representatives of a vanished world, solitary pinnacles that topple over the rising waste of waters under which the past lies buried. We have seen that in Greece two families of royal descent remained liable to furnish human victims from their number down to a time when the rest of their fellow-countrymen and countrywomen ran hardly more risk of being sacrificed than passengers in Cheapside at present run of being hurried into St. Paul's or Bow Church and immolated on the altar. A final mitigation of the custom would be to substitute condemned criminals for innocent victims. Such a substitution is known to have taken place in the human sacrifices annually offered in Rhodes to Baal,” and we have seen good grounds for believing that the criminal, who perished on the cross or the gallows at Babylon, died instead of the king in whose royal robes he had been allowed to masquerade for a few days. The condemnation and pretended death by fire of the mock king in Egypt' is probably a reminiscence of a real custom of burning him. Evidence of a practice of burning divine personages will be forthcoming later on. In Bilaspur the expulsion of the Brahman who had occupied the king's throne for a year * is perhaps a substitute for putting him to death. The explanation here given of the custom of killing divine persons assumes, or at least is readily combined with, the idea that the soul of the slain divinity is transmitted to his successor. Of this transmission I have no direct proof; and so far a link in the chain of evidence is wanting. But if I cannot prove by actual examples this succession to the soul of the slain god, it can at least be made probable that such a succession was supposed to take place. For it has been already shown that the soul of the incarnate deity is often supposed to transmigrate at death into another incarnation; * and if this takes place when the death is a natural one, there seems no reason why it should not take place when the death has been brought about by violence. Certainly the idea that the soul of a dying person may be transmitted to his successor is perfectly familiar to primitive peoples. In Nias the eldest son usually succeeds his father in the chieftainship. But if from any bodily or mental defect the eldest son is disqualified for ruling, the father determines in his lifetime which of his sons shall succeed him. In order, however, to establish his right of succession it is necessary that the son upon whom his father's choice falls shall catch in his mouth or in a bag the last breath, and with it the soul, of the dying chief. For whoever catches his last breath is chief equally with the appointed successor. Hence the other brothers, and sometimes also strangers, crowd round the dying man to catch his soul as it passes. The houses in Nias are raised above the ground on posts, and it has happened that when the dying man lay with his face on the floor, one of the candidates has bored a hole in the floor
* Livy, xxxiv. 44. with gold, about which stood twelve other rough stones. The passage in 2 In Vallancey's Collectanea de Aebus which this statement occurs purports Fibernicis, vol. iii. (Dublin, 1786), p. to be quoted from an ancient MS. 457, it is said that the Irish “sacrificed entitled /Mun - seancas, or the Topothe first born of every species” to a deity graphy of Ireland. called Crom-Cruaith, a stone capped * I'orphyry, />e abstinentia, ii. 54.
ill SUCCESS/OAV / O THE SOUL 57
and sucked in the chief's last breath through a bamboo tube. When the chief has no son, his soul is caught in a bag, which is fastened to an image made to represent the deceased ; the soul is then believed to pass into the image." Amongst the Takilis or Carrier Indians of North-West America, when a corpse is burned the priest pretends to catch the soul of the deceased in his hands, which he closes with many gesticulations. He then communicates the captured soul to the dead man's successor by throwing his hands towards and blowing upon him. The person to whom the soul is thus communicated takes the name and rank of the deceased. On the death of a chief the priest thus fills a responsible and influential position, for he may transmit the soul to whom he will, though doubtless he generally follows the regular line of succession.” In Guatemala, when a great man lay at the point of death, they put a precious stone between his lips to receive the parting soul, and this was afterwards kept as a precious memorial by his nearest kinsman or most intimate friend.” Algonquin women who wished to become mothers flocked to the side of a dying person in the hope of receiving and being impregnated by the passing soul. Amongst the Seminoles of Florida when a woman died in childbed the infant was held over her face to receive her parting spirit." The Romans caught the breath of dying friends in their mouths, and so received into themselves the soul of the departed.” The same custom is said to be still practised in Lancashire." On the seventh day after the death of a king of Gingiro the sorcerers bring to his successor, wrapt in a piece of silk, a worm which they say comes from the nose of the dead king ; and they make the new king kill the worm by squeezing its head between his teeth." The ceremony seems to be intended to convey the spirit of the deceased monarch to his successor. The Danakil or Afars of Eastern Africa believe that the soul of a magician will be born again in the first male descendant of the man who was most active in attending on the dying magician in his last hours. Hence when a magician is ill he receives many attentions.” In Uganda the spirit of the king who had been the last to die manifested itself from time to time in the person of a priest, who was prepared for the discharge of this exalted function by a peculiar ceremony. When the body of the king had been embalmed and had lain for five months in the tomb, which was a house built specially for it, the head was severed from the body and laid in an ant-hill. Having been stript of flesh by the insects, the skull was washed in a particular river (the Ndyabuworu) and filled with wine. One of the late king's priests then drank the wine out of the skull, and thus became himself a vessel meet to receive the spirit of the deceased monarch. The skull was afterwards replaced in the tomb, but the lower jaw was separated from it and deposited in a jar; and this jar, being swathed in bark-cloth and decorated with beads so as to look like a man, henceforth represented the late king. A house was built for its reception in the shape of a beehive and divided into two rooms, an inner and an outer. Any person might enter the outer room, but in the inner room the spirit of the dead king was supposed to dwell. In front of the partition was set a throne covered with lion and leopard skins, and fenced off from the rest of the chamber by a rail of spears, shields, and knives, most of them made of copper and brass and beautifully worked. When the priest, who had fitted himself to receive the king's spirit, desired to converse with the people in the king's name, he went to the throne, and addressing the spirit in the inner room informed
* Nieuwenhuisen en Rosenberg, Exploring Expedition (London, 1845),
“Verslag omtrent het eiland Nias,”
iv. 453; U.S. Exploring Expedition,