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the Maeander and compelled him to reap along with him. Lastly, he used to wrap the stranger in a sheaf, cut off his head with a sickle, and carry away his body, wrapt in the corn stalks. But at last he was himself slain by Hercules, who threw his body into the river. As Hercules was probably reported to have slain Lityerses in the same way that Lityerses slew others (as Theseus treated Sinis and Sciron), we may infer that Lityerses used to throw the bodies of his victims into the river. According to another version of the story, Lityerses, a son of Midas, used to challenge people to a reaping match with him, and if he vanquished them he used to thrash them; but one day he met with a stronger reaper, who slew him.2
There are some grounds for supposing that in these stories of Lityerses we have the description of a Phrygian harvest custom in accordance with which certain persons, especially strangers passing the harvest field, were regularly regarded as embodiments of the corn-spirit and as such were seized by the reapers, wrapt in sheaves, and beheaded, their bodies, bound up in the corn-stalks, being afterwards thrown into water as a rain-charm. The grounds for this supposition are, first, the resemblance of the Lityerses story to the harvest customs of European peasantry, and, second, the frequency of human sacrifices offered by savage races to promote the fertility of the fields. We will examine these grounds successively, beginning with the former,
In comparing the story with the harvest customs of Europe, three points deserve special attention, namely: I. the reaping match and the binding of persons in the sheaves; II. the killing of the corn-spirit or his representatives ; III. the treatment of visiters to the harvest-field or of strangers passing it.
I. In regard to the first head, we have seen that in modern Europe the person who cuts or binds or threshes the
1 The story was told by Sositheus in Lityerses ; Apostolius, x. 74. Photius his play of Daphnis. His verses have mentions the sickle. Lityerses is the been preserved in the tract of an anony subject of a special study by Mannhardt mous writer. See Scriptores rerum (Mythologische Forschungen, p. I 599.), mirabilium Graeci, cd. Westermann, whom I follow. p. 220; also Athenaeus, X. p. 415 B; 2 Pollux, iv. 54. Schol. on Theocritus, x. 41; Photius, 3 In this comparison I closely follow Lexicon, Suidas, and Hesychius, s.v. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. 18 599.
last sheaf is often exposed to rough treatment at the hands of his fellow-labourers. For example, he is bound up in the last sheaf, and, thus encased, is carried or carted about, beaten, drenched with water, thrown on a dunghill, and so forth. Or, if he is spared this horseplay, he is at least the subject of ridicule or is thought to be destined to suffer some misfortune in the course of the year. Hence the harvesters are naturally reluctant to give the last cut at reaping or the last stroke at threshing or to bind the last sheaf, and towards the close of the work this reluctance produces an emulation among the labourers, each striving to finish his task as fast as possible, in order that he may escape the invidious distinction of being last. For example, in the neighbourhood of Danzig, when the winter corn is cut and mostly bound up in sheaves, the portion which still remains to be bound is divided amongst the women binders, each of whom receives a swath of equal length to bind. A crowd of reapers, children, and idlers gathers round to witness the contest, and at the word, “ Seize the Old Man," the women fall to work, all binding their allotted swaths as hard as they can. The spectators watch them narrowly, and the woman who cannot keep pace with the rest and consequently binds the last sheaf has to carry the Old Man (that is, the last sheaf made up in the form of a man) to the farmhouse and deliver it to the farmer with the words, “ Here I bring you the Old Man." which follows, the Old Man is placed at the table and receives an abundant portion of food, which, as he cannot eat it, falls to the share of the woman who carried him. Afterwards the Old Man is placed in the yard and all the people dance round him. Or the woman who bound the last sheaf dances for a good while with the Old Man, while the rest form a ring round them; afterwards they all, one after the other, dance a single round with him. Further, the woman who bound the last sheaf goes herself by the name of the Old
1 Cp. above, pp. 172, 179 59., 181 sq. tion for the honour of cutting it, and On the other hand, the last sheas is some. handfuls of standing corn used to be times an object of desire and emulation. hidden under sheaves in order that the See p. 173 sq. It is so at Balquhidder last to be uncovered should form the also (Folk-lore Journal, vi. 269); and it Maiden. -- (From the information of was formerly so on the Gareloch, Dum Archie Leitch. See p. 185, note 2.) bartonshire, where there was a competi.
At the supper
Man till the next harvest, and is often mocked with the cry, “ Here comes the Old Man." I At Aschbach in Bavaria, when the reaping is nearly finished, the reapers say, "Now, we will drive out the Old Man." Each of them sets himself to reap a patch of corn as fast as he can; he who cuts the last handful or the last stalk is greeted by the rest with an exulting cry, “You have the Old Man." Sometimes a black mask is fastened on the reaper's face and he is dressed in woman's clothes; or if the reaper is a woman, she is dressed in man's clothes. A dance follows. At the supper the Old Man gets twice as large a portion of food as the others. At threshing, the proceedings are the same; the person who gives the last stroke is said to have the Old Man.
These examples illustrate the contests in reaping, threshing, and binding which take place amongst the harvesters, from their unwillingness to suffer the ridicule and discomfort incurred by the one who happens to finish his work last. It will be remembered that the person who is last at reaping, binding, or threshing, is regarded as the representative of the corn-spirit, and this idea is more fully expressed by binding him or her in corn-stalks. The latter custom has been already illustrated, but a few more instances may be added. At Kloxin, near Stettin, the harvesters call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, “You have the Old Man, and must keep him.” The Old Man is a great bundle of corn decked with flowers and ribbons, and fashioned into a rude semblance of the human form. It is fastened on a rake or strapped on a horse, and brought with music to the village. In delivering the Old Man to the farmer, the woman says
“ Herc, dear Sir, is the Old Man.
He can stay no longer on the field,
1 W. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. 19 511
? Ibid. p. 20; Panzer, Beitrag zur
deutschen Mythologie, ii. p. 217, § 397.
3 Above, p. 190.
Fifty or sixty years ago the custom was to tie up the woman herself in pease-straw, and bring her with music to the farmhouse, where the harvesters danced with her till the pease-straw fell off. In other villages round Stettin, when the last harvest-waggon is being loaded, there is a regular race amongst the women, each striving not to be last. For she who places the last sheaf on the waggon is called the Old Man, and is completely swathed in corn-stalks ; she is also decked with flowers, and flowers and a helmet of straw are placed on her head. In solemn procession she carries the harvest-crown to the squire, over whose head she holds it while she utters a string of good wishes. At the dance which follows, the Old Man has the right to choose his, or rather her, partner; it is an honour to dance with him. At Blankenfelde, in the district of Potsdam, the woman who binds the last sheaf at the rye-harvest is saluted with the cry, “ You have the Old Man.” A woman is then tied up in the last sheaf in such a way that only her head is left free; her hair also is covered with a cap made of ryestalks, adorned with ribbons and flowers. She is called the Harvest-man, and must keep dancing in front of the last harvest-waggon till it reaches the squire's house, where she receives a present and is released from her envelope of corn. At Gommern, near Magdeburg, the reaper who cuts the last ears of corn is often wrapt up in corn-stalks so completely that it is hard to see whether there is a man in the bundle or not. Thus wrapt up he is taken by another stalwart reaper on his back, and carried round the field amidst the joyous cries of the harvesters.* At Neuhausen, near Merseburg, the person who binds the last sheaf is wrapt in ears of oats and saluted as the Oats-man, whereupon the others dance round him.” At Brie, Isle de France, the farmer himself is tied up in the first sheaf. At the harvest-home at Udvarhely, Transylvania, a person is encased in corn-stalks, and wears on his head a crown made out of the last ears cut. On reaching the village he is soused with water over and over." At Dingelstedt, in the district of Erfurt, about sixty years ago it was the 1 W. Mannhardt, Myrh. Forsch. p. 22.
4 liid. p. 23.
? Ibid. p. 22. 6 Ibid. p. 24.
5 lbid. p. 23 sq.
3 Ibid. p. 22 sy. i lbid. p. 24.
custom to tie up a man in the last sheaf. He was called the Old Man, and was brought home on the last waggon, amid huzzas and music. On reaching the farmyard he was rolled round the barn and drenched with water. At Nördlingen in Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is wrapt in straw and rolled on the threshing-floor. In some parts of Oberpfalz, Bavaria, he is said to “get the Old Man,” is wrapt in straw, and carried to a neighbour who has not yet finished his threshing. In Thüringen a sausage is stuck in the last sheaf at threshing, and thrown, with the sheaf, on the threshing-floor. It is called the Barrenwurst or Bazenwurst, and is eaten by all the threshers. After they have eaten it a man is encased in pease-straw, and thus attired is led through the village.
"In all these cases the idea is that the spirit of the corn—the Old Man of vegetation—is driven out of the corn last cut or last threshed, and lives in the barn during the winter.
At sowing-time he goes out again to the fields to resume his activity as animating force among the sprouting corn.'
Ideas of the same sort appear to attach to the last corn in India. At Hoshangabad, in Central India, when the reaping is nearly done, a patch of corn, about a rood in extent, is left standing in the cultivator's last field, and the reapers rest a little. Then they rush at this remnant, tear it up, and cast it into the air, shouting victory to one or other of the local gods, according to their religious persuasion. A sheaf is made out of this corn, tied to a bamboo, set up in the last harvest cart, and carried home in triumph. Here it is fastened up in the threshing-floor or attached to a tree or to the cattle-shed, where its services are held to be essential for the purpose of averting the evil-eye. A like custom prevails in the eastern districts of the North-Western Provinces of India. Sometimes a little patch is left untilled as a refuge for the field-spirit ; sometimes it is sown, and when the corn of this patch has
1 W. Mannhardt,.1/yth. Forsch. p. 24.
4 Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten und Gebräuche aus Thüringen, p. 223.
5 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 25 sy.
6 C. A. Elliot, Hoshangribid Settlemient Report, p. 178, quoted in Panjab Notes and Queries, üi. 88 8, 168; W. Crooke, Introduction to the Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, p. 382 sq.