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We are told that the faces of dying persons sometimes reproduce the features of their youth, and the memory of old men reverts to the events of boyhood. Thus Petrarch at the close of life survived the struggles of his manhood, and returned with single-hearted impulse to the Alma Mater of his youth. From the year 1348 forward, he approximated more and more to the medieval type of character, without losing his zeal for liberal studies. The coming age, which he inaugurated, faded from his vision, and the mystic past resumed its empire. Yet, as a scholar, he never ceased to be industrious. One of his last works was the translation into Latin of Boccaccio's “Griselda': and on the morning after his unwitnessed death, his servant found him bowed upon his books. But Petrarch was not sustained in age and sickness by a forecast of the culture he had laboured to create. The consolations of religion, the piety of the cloister, soothed his soul ; and he who had been the Erasmus of his century, passed from it in the attitude of an Augustinian monk.
At Arquà they still show the house where Petrarch spent his last years, the little study where he worked, the chair in which he sat, the desk at which he wrote. From those soft-swelling undulations of the Euganean hills, hoary with olives, rich with fig and vine, the Lombard plain breaks away toward Venice and the Adriatic. The air is light; the prospect is immense; there is a sound of waters hurrying by. In front of the church-door, below the house, and close beside the rushing stream, stands the massive coffer of Verona marble where his ashes rest. No inscription is needed. The fame of Petrarch broods on Arquà like the canopy of heaven. For one who has dwelt long in company with his vexed, stedfast spirit—so divine in aspiration, so human in tenderness, and so like ourselves in its divided impulses—there is something inexpressibly solemn to stand beside this sepulchre, and review the five centuries through which the glory he desired has lived and grown. Few men capable of comprehending his real greatness, while there standing, will not envy him the peace he found upon the end of life, and pause to wonder when that harmony will be achieved between the wisdom of this world and the things of God which Petrarch, through all contradictions, clung to, and in death accomplished.
ART. V.-1. Kypros. Eine Monographie. Von W. H. Engel.
Berlin, 1841. 2. Cyprus. Its Ancient Cities, Tombs, and Temples. By General
Louis Palma di Cesnola. London, 1877. 3. Cypern. Reiseberichte über Natur und Landschaft, Volk und
Geschichte. Von Franz von Löher. Stuttgart, 1878.
M HE traveller who approaches Cyprus from the south-east,
and nears the port of Larnaca, can scarcely fail to be unfavourably impressed by the bare and forlorn appearance of a country almost entirely denuded of trees and brushwood, and in the summer months without vegetation. . Very different was the aspect which the island presented three thousand years ago to the Phænician mariner starting on his westward explorations. In those days vast forests and thick underwood stretched down from the mountains to the shore, offering the visitor the prospect of an inexhaustible supply of the materials for ship building. Very probably the need for wood and tar first attracted the Sidonian sailors to the shores of Cyprus. If so, a stronger attraction soon induced them to remain. In the mountains of the island they found an endless supply of that copper which, until the difficulties attending the working of iron were overcome, was the chief of all the means by which man established his dominion over the earth, the beasts of the field, and his fellow man. When, further, we consider the position of Cyprus, lying right over against the Syrian coast, we cannot doubt the truth of the tradition that some of the earliest Phænician colonies were established in the island. Timidly, as their custom was, the new-comers took their post beneath the long range of mountains which cuts off the southern coast from the broad plain which forms the middle portion of the land, and built their citadels on little hills, easy to be fortified, overhanging sheltered roadsteads and beaches where their galleys could lie safely. So arose Amathus, Paphos, and the mightier Kitium, which became the Phænician capital, gave its name to the whole island, and was for centuries the chief support and vassal of Tyre.
At this time no doubt the island was already peopled by a race of Greek or semi-Greek stock. The religious practices of the Cyprian people, and, as we now know, both the style of their art and the alphabet they employed, point to a close connection between them and the Lycian, Pamphylian, and Phrygian races of Asia Minor. But these races were as yet in a state of barbarism, and had little culture of their own to oppose to that brought by the Phænicians from the valleys of
the Nile and the Euphrates. They were never so quick-witted as the Ionians, and the latter applied to them in scorn the epithet Cyprian oxen. Modern travellers speak still of the dulness and stolidity of the peasants who dwell in the mountainous and unfrequented parts of the island, and whose ancestors probably lived there three thousand years ago; though Ross on the other hand maintains that the Greek peasants who dwell in secluded valleys in Rhodes are equally stolid, and ascribes their dulness rather to the uneventful and monotonous character of their lives, than to an inherent tendency.
To the primitive Cyprians the Phænicians brought not only the rudiments of art, trade, and civilisation, but also a religion. At Amathus and Paphos they founded temples to the moongoddess, the queen of heaven, Ashtoreth or Astarte, the national deity of Ascalon and Sidon. That a people of navigators, in the infancy of navigation, should worship the moon and the stars is so natural as to require no explanation. Astarte guided the Sidonians on all their maritime expeditions, saved them from shipwreck in many a storm, and measured the time of their return; and their gratitude made her supreme in all matters of navigation and commerce, their directress in war, and the wealthy recipient of a large share of the rich spoils which they reaped by force or by commerce in the far west. But as has usually happened when a Semitic people introduces the germs of a religion among an Aryan race, the cultus of Astarte soon changed its form at Cyprus when it came into contact with native customs and beliefs.
Of the cultus of Aphrodite at Paphos we know a little from later accounts, but only a little. No subject could possibly be more obscure than the origin of the elements of that worship. We may be sure that it was planted by the Phænicians, but of Phænician belief we know next to nothing. Movers asserts that the worship of the Sidonian goddess was pure from lascivious rites. If so the grosser elements in the later worship of Aphrodite must have been taken either from a Syrian or a Phrygian source. The Syrians as well as the people of Asia Minor worshipped with orgiastic rites a deity of the feminine gender, who represented at once the moon and that warm moisture of which the moon was the symbol, and which is the great fosterer of life and growth in the world. With this female deity was associated an effeminate male divinity, who doubtless symbolised the sun. On all the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean we find among the various peoples pairs of deities of this character under the most varied names and with great variety of legend. In Babylon they were called Sandan and Mylitta, in Phrygia, Atys and Cybele. In
Lydia the pair were Græcised into Hercules and Omphale, in the Troad into Anchises and Aphrodite. In Cyprus they went by the names of Adonis and Aphrodite. The name of Adonis is probably Semitic, but as worshipped in Cyprus he was certainly a deity of the same class as Atys and Anchises.
We find a further likeness to the religions of Asia Minor and Syria in the strongly organised college of priests, who were attached to the service of the deity of Paphos. Tradition asserted that these priests were all descended from Cinyras. Certainly they were a very wealthy and powerful corporation, with branches in all parts of the island wherever there was a temple of Aphrodite, and great wealth and political power. They ruled at old Paphos almost as kings, and General di Cesnola believes that he has discovered the foundations of their stately palace. Similar to the guild of the Cinyradæ were the colleges of priests of Cybele, and the religious corporations of cities which, like Ephesus, took the tone of their worship from Asia Minor. It is also worthy of observation that in the Paphian temple the goddess was represented by no image, but by a conical stone, just as the Syrian goddess was represented at Hierapolis, Cybele at Pessinus, and the Asiatic Artemis at Perga.
Herodotus tells us of the abominations practised in the temple of Mylitta at Babylon, in words which might tempt the reader to suppose that he is exaggerating, or at least that the abominable sensual excesses of which he speaks could have no connection with any form of religion. Unfortunately religious excitement, when perverted, is but too apt to lead to sensual aberrations, as is proved by the history of the early Christian sects, and too surely even in our own day by the rise of strange communistic societies on a professedly religious basis in America and Russia. In Asia Minor the worship of deities of the Mylitta class was accompanied by sensual indulgence and degrading self-mutilations, a canker which spread at a later time deep into the decaying frame of the Roman Empire. At Cyprus the nature of the climate, which has enervated successively Greek colonists, Frankish knights, Venetian nobles, and Turkish settlers, and the fatal facility of living, both combined with the vague mystical traditions of the Cyprian race to turn the worship of Astarte into a vast orgy, and to make the very name of Cyprus stand through the civilised world for a synonym of impurity and debauchery.
In the earliest form known to us of the primitive Greek religion, that kept up by tradition at Dodona, there is already an Aphrodite, who is the child of Zeus and Dione, and is associated with the dove, the great emblem in all times of Aphrodite-wor
ship. An Aphrodite under other names is also found in the Pelasgic cultus, which rendered Lemnos and Imbros celebrated. But after the Paphian goddess had been identified thoroughly with the Greek Aphrodite, and was never spoken of by any other name, her worship still retained its repulsive character. Xenophon, however, in the Symposium, carefully distinguishes two forms of Aphrodite. Of these the first is Urania, whose symbol was the planet Venus, who was regarded as a virgin, and whose rites were free from impurity. Of her Phidias made a statue which stood upon a tortoise, and the animal sacred to her was the gentle and loving dove. The other form was Aphrodite Pandemos, fitly symbolised by a goat or a pig, the patroness of harlots and the encourager of all kinds of sexual immorality. It was rather in the latter light that the deity was regarded in Cyprus. The Aphrodisia, which fell at the beginning of April, were stained with the wildest excesses, the two sexes vying one with the other in the bestial rivalry.
Of a scarcely less obscene, though of a more interesting character, was the annual feast of Adonis. In this the love of the goddess for her hero, his death, her passionate lament, and his resurrection from the dead, were represented to the eyes of worshippers by means of images, in a sort of Pagan miracleplay. For one day the crowds of women stood loudly lamenting and beating their breasts, or sat with tearful eyes raised to heaven; sometimes they even shaved their heads in token of mourning. On the next day, with joyful voices, they announced that Hades had been unable to hold back the young, the blooming Adonis, and Zeus had restored him to life and love. For eight months of the year he was to dwell with his loving Aphrodite ; only for four he was to remain with Persephone beneath the earth. The worshippers planted quickly growing herbs in carefully-prepared hot-beds: in a few days the tender stalks appeared, when they were thrown into the sea or into wells to typify the sudden end of springing life on the earth. In all this we cannot fail to see allusion to the annual death and resurrection of the sun; a death and resurrection which by the Pagans of that time were not thought of as figurative, but as actual hard fact. In the same way Osiris died and rose again in Egypt, Atys in Phrygia, and Dionysus in Greece.
Until about the ninth or eighth century before our æra, the Phænicians worked their will and made their fortunes on all the coasts of the Mediterranean. Then the genius of the Greek race began to awake. The Iliad' may not be history, but it certainly represents a time when the Greeks began to colonise and to conquer towards the East, and to spread themselves over the Vol. 146.—No. 292.