Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

the account of an old traveller (who when he says" le Diable” means the god of the savages): “Il y a de ces prestres qui ont yn commerce particulier auec le Diable ... il passe quelquesfois dans le corps de leur Sacrificateurs & dans ce peu de temps que dure le Sacrifice, il leur fait dire & executer des choses qui remplissent de crainte les assistans ... le Sacrifice . . . se fait en frappant la Victime, auec certaines ceremonies, que le Sacrificateur fait en cadance, marquée par un tambour ou par vne cloche, c'est dans ce temps-là que le Diable les possede, qu'il leur fait faire mille contorsios & grimace et à la fin, ils disent ce qu'ils croyent auoir veu ou entendu.”1 But against this we have to set the universal belief that it is by drinking the god's blood that the god enters the worshipper. It is therefore to this part of the rite we must look. Now, the slayer of the victim would naturally be the first to drink of the blood ; and it is entirely in accord with primitive ideas to suppose that the first blood was considered to contain more of the sacred life than the rest—we need only recall to mind the universal reluctance to partake of the first-fruits of the field, as containing the divine life in its most potent form. So by the European custom the man who ate the first apple from the tree in which the vegetation spirit dwelt became the human representative of the spirit for the year. Thus it was the man who greatly daring first killed the victim and drank the first draught of the sacred life who thereby became the human “image" or representative or vicegerent of the god, priest and king for a year, by which time the bloodcovenant required to be renewed, and again a victim had to be slain, a slayer found.

There remains the question why the priest-king forfeited his life at the end of the year. Now the forfeit attached to the office: the moment the office was undertaken, the forfeit was incurred. But it was by a man's own voluntary act that the office was assumed; and that act had two elements, the office two sides. There was the blood-guiltiness attaching to the killing of the god, and there was the sanctity brought by the drinking of the sacred blood. It must therefore have

i Thevenot, Divers Voyages, iv., “Relation des Isles Philippines."
? B. K. 409.

been in one of these two characters that the king-priest was slain. Mr. Frazer's view is that he was slain as being the god. This, however, is unsatisfactory from our point of view, for two reasons. The first is that the evidence, as we have argued, seems to indicate that the king-priest was as a matter of fact regarded, both by himself and others, as the god's vicegerent, rather than as himself the god. The other is that if he was regarded as the god and slain as such, then there would from that time on have been no further need or possibility of animal sacrifice: the priest who slew the slayer would in turn be slain, and so human sacrifice and cannibalism would have been the universal type of the sacrificial meal, whereas, first, cannibalism as a ritual is the exception, not the rule, and next, every religious institution, and every survival in religion which has a bearing on the question, points to the sacramental eating first of totem-animals and then of totemplants.

We are therefore forced back on the other hypothesis, that it was as the shedder of divine blood that the kingpriest's blood was shed, that it was the blood-guiltiness attaching to his original act which made his life forfeit from the first. For a year the sanctity of the divine blood in his veins ensured his safety; at the end of that time the penalty was exacted. If it be asked why at the end of a year, the only answer is that in early times the community seem to have felt the need of an annual renewal of the blood-covenant with their god; the yearly sacrifice is the oldest; at the end of a year they felt that the sacred blood that was in them had departed from them; and if from them, then from the king-priest, whom accordingly it was now safe to slay, and their duty to slay. That the exaction of the penalty would eventually come to be deferred, is probable enough, and is confirmed by the historic instances in which it was only enforced at the end of a twelve years' reign. Then it would be deferred indefinitely to the appearance of the first physical blemish indicative of old age, or until famine or disaster warned the community that the spilling of divine blood had not yet been avenged. But, in the absence of such monitions, the penalty might even be evaded altogether, with the consent of the community, by the substitution of the priest-king's firstborn son, for whom again a substitute might be found in a criminal or a captive, until even the taking of such lives was felt to be a stumblingblock. By this time the office may have become hereditary; and thus would arise the necessity on occasion of devolving some of the functions, e.g. war (for war is, as we bave seen, a sacred function in primitive times) or legislation upon a younger brother or other relative less hampered by the divinity and the restrictions which hedged in the priest-king. Or the sanctity of the office might extend to the whole family of the priest-king, in which case his descendants would constitute a hereditary order of priests, the eldest representative being high priest. Then, too, a war-king would have to be sought outside the limits of the priestly family. To his office also sanctity would attach; he too would require consecration and receive a Téuevos. But whereas political progress tended to give the king a larger kingdom and greater powers, all concentrated in his one person, it tended to diminish the importance of the priest, for it brought polytheism in its train, and so multiplied the number of the priests, proportionately dividing their power.

The growing tendency, which the above view postulates, to defer and then to remit the forfeit of the king-priest's life, can hardly be dissociated from the change which gradually took place in men's view of animal sacrifice. At first, sacrifice was the killing of the god manifested in the animal. Then the rite came to be regarded as a sacrifice to the god, now conceived to be present in the altar-stone on which the blood was dashed.' Finally, the sacrifice was a meal in which the god took part, and the animal's life was no longer considered sacred—the animal was but the chattel of the tribe that bred it. Now these changes must have materially assisted the tendency to remit the king-priest's penalty: as long as the animal was the god, the blood-guiltiness of the slayer called for his death; when the animal was rather a sacrifice to than of the god, the death of the priest would be required

1 In view of the existence of a survival of annually killing the king-priest in Babylon, it may be well to note that an Accadian text expressly states that sin may be expiated by the vicarious sacrifice of the eldest son (Sayce's Appendix, p. 418, to his edition of Hdt. i. and ii.).

rather by tradition than by any living sentiment of necessity. When the animal was a mere chattel, the execution even of a captive would be unmeaning; of a firstborn son, shocking. Nor can we fail in this connection to note that, whereas drinking the blood was of the essence of the rite originally, in course of time it came to be generally dropped or prohibited— possibly on grounds of refinement, but possibly also on religious grounds, on the ground that no man should be allowed to communicate so closely with the divine life. Finally, we may note that the original idea of taboo is identical neither with that of holiness nor that of uncleanness, but is the root-idea out of which both these were subsequently differentiated and developed : it is simply that which must not be touched or approached. Now the kingpriest was strictly taboo in the original sense: both as the shedder of blood and as the partaker in divine life, he was not to be approached, during his year.

We have endeavoured to show that the institution of the priesthood was the natural, necessary, and inevitable outcome of the primeval rite of the sacrificial meal; and that from the beginning the priest had no other means of drawing near to his god than those open to all his fellow-worshippers ; he was distinguished from them only by his greater readiness to sacrifice himself for their religious needs. We have found nothing to support the notion that religion is the invention of priests, and we have been obliged to dissent both from the view that primitive man was uncertain whether he was a god or not, and from the view that the priest was a sorcerer who had got on in the world.

We have next to show how the mystic view of sacrifice, as communion, struggled to reassert itself against the commercial view of sacrifice, as giving in order to get something, which had overlaid it; and how this affected man's view of the future state. But first we must understand what his view of the other world was, to begin with.

CHAPTER XXI

THE NEXT LIFE

As to man's future state many very different views have been held and are held by different peoples. To some it appears but a continuation of the present life, for others it involves a retribution for what has been done in this world ; and each of these theories has many varieties. The retribution may consist in a simple reversal of this life's lot, so that those who have fared ill here will be well off in the next world, and vice versâ ; or the better lot in the next world may be reserved either for those who in this were persons of quality, or for those who distinguished themselves by their valour, or by their virtue, or by their piety. Or the next life may be for all men alike a continuance of this, under more pleasant conditions, or under more gloomy conditions, but in either case the rank and occupation of the deceased will be what they were in this life, even the scars and mutilations of the body surviving with the other marks of personal identity. Or, again, life may be continued, but in such a way that personal identity is concealed, as for instance by the transmigration of the soul into an animal body, or is forgotten, as by the souls that drink the waters of Lethe before being reborn, or merged in the divine essence. Or the soul may not survive death at all—only the fruit of its moral or immoral acts may be transmitted.

An equally great variety of opinion prevails as to the situation and topography of the next world. It may be on the earth's surface, or under it or above it. If on it, then it is a far-off land, a garden behind far distant hills, a land beyond a distant river, an island across the sea, a far-off western world. Or it may be above the earth, in the sun,

« ForrigeFortsæt »