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of their enemies. The king causes as a perpetual remembrance of all his predecessors to beat and wound the best beloved of all his children with the same weapons wherewith they had been kill'd in former times, to the end that by renewing the wound, their death should be lamented afresh. The king and his nation being assembled on these occasions, a feast is prepared, and the Indian who is authorised to wound the king's son, runs about the house like a distracted person crying and making a most hideous noise all the time with the weapon in his hand, wherewith he wounds the king's son; this he performs three several times, during which interval he presents the king with victuals or cassena, and it is very strange to see the Indian that is thus struck never offers to stir till he is wounded the third time, after which he falls down backwards stretching out his arms and legs as if he had been ready to expire; then the rest of the king's sons and daughters, together with the mother and vast numbers of women and girls fall at his feet and lament and cry most bitterly. During this time the king and his retinue are feasting, yet with such profound silence for some hours, that not one word or even a whisper is to be heard amongst them. After this manner they continue till night, which ends in singing, dancing, and the greatest joy imaginable."1 In this account the description of the frantic manner assumed by the person whose duty it was to wound the king's son reminds us of the frenzy of King Athamas when he took or attempted the lives of his children.2 The same feature is said to have characterised the sacrifice of children in Peru. "When any person of note was sick and the priest said he must die, they sacrificed his son, desiring the idol to be satisfied with him and not to take away his father's life. The ceremonies used at these sacrifices were strange, for they behaved themselves like mad men. They believed that all calamities were occasioned by sin, and that sacrifices were the remedy."8 An early Spanish historian of the conquest of Peru, in 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."1 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."2 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.8 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.4 On a later occasion, when the 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.1 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.2
1 J. Bricknell, The Natural History - See above, p. 35.
of North Carolina (Dublin, 1737),
p. 342 sg. I have taken the liberty s Herrera, The general history of the
of altering slightly the writer's some- vast continent and islands of America
what eccentric punctuation. (translated by Stevens), iv. 347 sq.
1 Fr. Xeres, Relation viridique de la conqutte dn Pcrou et de la Province de Cir-io nomm'c Notevelle-Castilk (in Ternaux-Conipans's Voyages, Relations et Mimoires, etc., Paris, 1837), p. S3.
2 Festus, De verborum signification*, ed. Miillcr, p. 379, compare p. 15S; Servius on Virgil, Aen. vii. 796; Nonius Marcellus, s.v. "ver sacrum," p. 522 (p. 610, ed. Quicherat); Dionysius Halicarnasensis, Antiqnit. Rom. i. 16. Dionysius says that many Greek and barbarian peoples had practised the same custom.
3 Strabo, v. 4. 2 and 12: Pliny, Nat.
Hist. iii. 110; Festus, De signif. verb.. ed. Mtlller, p. 106. It is worthy of note that the three swarms which literwards 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 he rash to assume that it does so.
4 Livy, xxii. 9 sq.; Plutarch, Fabius Maximus, 4.
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,8 and wc 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.
1 Livy, xxxiv. 44. with gold, about which stood twelve
other rough stones. The passage in
2 In Vallancey's Collectanea de Reins which this statement occurs purports Hibernicis, vol. iii. (Dublin, 1786), p. to be quoted from an ancient MS. 457, it is said that the Irish "sacrificed entitled Dim - seancas, or the Topothe first born of every species" to a deity gr.iphy of Ireland.
called Crom-Cruaith, a stone capped s Porphyry, />i• ahstinentia, ii. 54.
The condemnation and pretended death by fire of the mock king in Egypt1 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 year2 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 ;8 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 and sucked in the chiefs 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.1 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.2 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.8 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.4 The Romans caught the breath of dying friends in their mouths, and so received into themselves the soul of the departed.5 The same custom is said to be still practised in Lancashire.6 On the seventh day after the death of a king of Gingiro the sorcerers bring
See above, p. 30. * See above, p. 30 sq.
s See above, vol. i. p. 151 sqq.
1 Nieuwenhuisen en Rosenberg, Exploring Expedition (London, 1845),
"Verslag omtrent het eiland Nias," iv. 453; U.S. Exploring Expedition,
Verhandelingen van het Botav. Genoot- Ethnography and Philology, by H.
schap van Kunsten en Wetmschappen, Hale, p. 203.
xxx. (1863), p. 85; Rosenberg, Per 3 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire
Malayische Archipel, p. 160; Chatelin, des Xations civilisies du Mexique et de
"GodsdienstenbijgeloofderNiassers," rAm/ru/ue-Centrale, ii. 574.
TiidschriftvoorlndischeTaal- Land-en . —. ~ —, . ,, ,. e .. ..
./,. , J , c- J D- G. Bnnton, Myths of the A/ev>
I olkenkunde, xxvi. 142 so.; Sunder- ... ... ,v. ,, . .o»£, „
, ■t-.- 1 1 Xt- J 1* &•• • World- (New \ork, 1876), p. 270 so.
mann, " Die Insel Niasund die Mission r
daselbst," Allgemeine Missions-Zeit- 5 Servius on Virgil, Aen. iv. 68S;
schrift, xi. 445; E. Modigliani, Cn Cicero, In Verr. 11. 5. 45; K. F.
viaggioa Nlas, pp. 277, 479 ^. ; id., Hermann, Criech. Privatalterthumer,
I.'Isola delle Donne (Milan, 1894), p. «l- Mumner, p. 362, note 1. 195. 0 Harland and Wilkinson, l.anea
- Ch. Wilkes, Xarrativc of tin- U.S. sliire Folk-lore, p. 7 sq.