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MONKISH LEGENDS.

129

to death, and the Assyrian monarch hastened to crown Semiramis as his queen. Devoted to her through life, Ninus at his death left to her the government of his, kingdom, in which, after a splendid reign of forty-two years, she was succeeded by their son Ninyas.

There is no need to linger on her world-wide fame, her surpassing beauty, and marvellous achievements in peace and war; but her name and story form a striking illustration of the fact, that in the signification of names a key is often to be found to the strange wild legends of other times. In Semiramis, the Dove, is revealed the secret of her supposed supernatural nursing mothers, and her imaginary translation to heaven after death in the form of a dove.

The story of Wolf-ted Romulus is explained by Lupa, his nurse's name; and many like fables may be found to have sprung from like sources. Monkish chronicles are full of similar fanciful tales. The legend of St. Rene, who was said to have risen from the grave seven days after his burial, originated in his name, which, derived from the Latin Renatus, signifies born again. This name, adopted in the early Church as signi ficant of a new spiritual life, suggested to credulous miracle-seekers in after times the marvel of St. René rising to a new bodily life.

To St. Athanasius, whose Greek name signifies Immortality, the Greek Church attributes the miraculous power of having caused a wolf to

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act as his obedient messenger—the simple fact being, that Athanasius sent to a monastery some herbs gathered with his own hands, and he chose for his messenger an individual bearing the name of Lycos, in Greek signifying a Wolf. Of this celebrated Patriarch of Alexandria, the 'Father of Orthodoxy,' as he has been called, it was said in the sixth century, 'Whenever you meet with a sentence of Athanasius, and have not paper at hand, write it down on your clothes.'⁕

In a work on Popular Superstitions, by M. de la Mothe A. Mayer, a long list is given of saints, the signification of whose names has led to a belief in supernatural powers possessed by them in connection with subjects corresponding to such signification.

The lame address their prayers for relief from their infirmity to St. Claude, Bishop of Besancon A.d. 581, his name being derived from the Latin Claudius, signifying lame.

With greater plausibility the blind seek assistance from the martyred saints of the fourth century—St. Clair, derived from the Latin, signifying clear, bright; and St. Lucia, also from the Latin, signifying light. From this signification is said to have also arisen the legend of St. Lucia's having being deprived of her eyes, of which we find no mention in the early history of the Christian Church.

⁕ Stanley's Eastern Church.

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The story grew out of the pictured representations of this fair girl, a native of Syracuse—one of the many martyrs in Diocletian's reign. Old painters, delighting in symbols and devices, introduced into their pictures of St. Lucia an eye, or eyes, as significant of her name. As time went on, a story grew, till the imaginary legend was coarsely rendered by the saint's carrying her eyes on a plate, while her other hand displayed the awl with which they were supposed to have been bored out.

A nobler, truer reading of her name was Dante's Santa Lucia, as the type of celestial light or wisdom: as such she is beautifully represented bearing a shining lamp.⁕

Some of these superstitions connected with the names of saints have neither a foundation of truth nor poetical imagery to plead for them. It is supposed in France to be unlucky for grain to be sown on St. Leger's day (October 2)—the martyred Bishop's name, signifying light, wanting in weight, is thought to affect the growth of the plant and make it light in the ear.

The shoemaker's choice of a patron is said by some to have simply arisen from his name Crispin, derived from the Latin crepis (borrowed from the Greek), signifying a slipper. But it would seem certain that the brothers Crispin and Crispianus, who were born at Rome, and travelled

* Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art.

to Soissons to preach the Gospel, did really follow in that town the trade of shoemaking —the two names rendered by them so illustrious being perhaps taken from their employment.

These saintly men carried out St. Paul's example and precepts in all their fullness, working with their hands the thing which was good: they also gave to them that needed, supplying shoes to the poor without payment. The good that they did lived after them, for in the name of these martyred brothers of the third century brotherhoods of charity were formed, the members of which paid the produce of their voluntary labours into a common stock for charitable purposes.

In an old romance a prince of the name of Crispin is made to exercise, in honour of his name, the trade of shoemaking, from whence, it is said, arose the epithet of the 'gentle craft.'* The name of Crispin was at one time a common nickname for a shoemaker, and at this moment in France shoemakers call the bag in which they carry the tools of their trade un saint-Crépin.'

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In our Reformed Calendar one of the holy brothers' names is still preserved. St. Crispin's day (October 25) was one of our most venerated holy days in former times. Old England's long, long roll of victories also records that day as the anniversary of Agincourt. Shakspeare's glorious

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ST. CRISPIN'S DAY.

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speech of Henry V, before the battle commemorates both brothers' names:—

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered.

And when 439 years should have passed away, again was St. Crispin's day wreathed with laurel and cypress for England's heroes.

BALAKLAVA!

Frenchmen may criticise and Englishmen dispute as to who said what; but no Englishwoman will ever hear that name without glowing cheeks and brimming eyes—without thanksgiving to God that English mothers bear such sons.

Noble Curtius leaped into the gaping earth, for an oracle had said that only thus could Rome be saved; but at a breath, ere the half-uttered words were spoken, the confused order made plain—so madly jealous were they of their country's fame —England's 'gallant six hundred' rode into a gulf of fire, into the valley of death.

Peculiar interest attaches itself to the origin of all legendary tales. With much that is objectionable, there is also much to charm, much to profit, even in the legendary lives of saints. There seems little doubt but that, at the first, many of these legends were simply allegories, clothed with impressive language by meditative monks, hoping to affect the heart, and next, by the eager painter's hand, clothed in yet more

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