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of a lion. We will not, however, go to ancient literature, but to something much more ancient, the traditions and folk-lore of existing peoples.
For instance, there is a wide-spread folk-tale, according to which Jesus asks bread from an old woman who is baking, and upon refusal turns her into a woodpecker or an owl : you have a reminiscence of the story in Ophelia's statement in the play of Hamlet, that "the owl was a baker's daughter". This story, the explanation of which is not difficult, is, amongst the peasants of little Russia, embroidered
, with another story from quite a different cycle. The old woman in this tale strikes Jesus on the head and makes a wound. In the wound is found a little worm, which Peter is bidden to extract and place in the hollow of a tree. The story-teller goes on to say that when they next passed that way, there was an abundance of honey in the tree. Bees had been produced out of the Lord's head.
In another form of the story, as told in Poland, Jesus is travelling with Peter and Paul, and asks for hospitality for the night from an old woman. Instead of a welcome they have stones thrown at them, and Paul is struck in the head. As the weather was hot, the wound putrified, and little maggots were produced, which Jesus took from the wound and placed in the hollow of a tree. A good while after, they passed that way again, and Jesus directed Paul to look in the treehollow, where to his surprise he found bees and honey sprung from his own head.
In German Bohemia, the story is told without the introduction of the old woman. Jesus and Paul walk through the woods together. Christ's forehead itches, and Peter extracts the troublesome maggot and puts it in a hollow tree. Result as before.
Sometimes the peasant says that the bee-larva was found in a hole in the body of God, either an artificial hole made in his forehead, or elsewhere, from which it is removed into a corresponding hole in the tree, where bees are to be found.
In all these stories the oak in whose holes the bees are found has been externalised into the body of God in which the bees exist in germ-form. The Thunder-man is seen to be the externalisation of the Thunder-tree ; the phytomorph and the anthropomorph standing side by side, and each of them being read in terms of the other, for each is the Thunder. Christ as the Thunder-man has, in fact, stepped
out of the Thunder-tree ; but he has not gone very far off and easily finds his way back.
Now it is easy to see that this method of regarding the oak as personified thunder, capable of an external and visible incarnation, may lead us to important results in other parts of ancient mythology. When, for example, we read that Athena sprang from the brain of Zeus, and was actually liberated from that temporary prison by the axe of Hephaestus, we have only to remember that Athena is the owl, and that, from the habits of the owl and its dwelling-place in the hollow tree, it has claims to be regarded as a Thunder-bird ; though, for want of sufficient colour-credentials, it cannot hold its own against the Woodpecker.
Zeus is, from this point of view, a projection of the Thunder-tree and of the Thunder-bird into human form, while Hephaestus with his axe (the thunder-axe, of which we may see the wide diffusion in popular beliefs and in surviving cult-monuments), is himself an artificial double of the thunder-god, and in some respects nearer to the thunder than Zeus himself. Athena is the daughter of Zeus, because she is the daughter of the Thunder, and she springs from the thunderstruck oak.
We are now going to spend a little time over the myth of Dionysos, because it suggests a parallel to the birth of Athena. In Athena's case, the place of gestation is the head of Zeus, in the case of Dionysos, the story ran that when he was born of the intercourse of Semele and Zeus, and his mother had perished in the fiery embrace of her Olympian lover, Dionysos himself underwent gestation in the thigh of Zeus, and being born again from thence became the type of the twice-born man. It is natural, then, to enquire whether any explanation of the relations between Zeus and Dionysos can be made in terms of the oak-tree and the Thunder.
It is well known that the mythology of the Dionysos cult furnishes some of the most obscure and intricate problems in the whole history of Greek religion. Who was Dionysos ? What is the meaning of his name? Why is he born of Zeus and Semele ? And why reborn of Zeus ? How does he become a god of wine and take the vine under his patronage ? And what possible connection can there be between the Zeus-born babe, or the discoverer of the vine, or the Thracian hero of the Bacchic religion, whom the Maenads pursue
wild ecstasies upon the mountains ? What connection has the Thracian Dionysos with the Phrygian Sabazios ? How did they come to be identified one with the other? And how did the Bacchic revellers become identified at a later date with the followers of Orpheus and the initiates into the Orphic mysteries ? And what is the meaning of the devotion to Dionysos in the very sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi ? These are some of the questions which engage more or less successfully the attention of the students of Greek religion. Indeed, it is only after the enunciation of a series of inadequate hypotheses that the ground is cleared for one that harmonises and colligates the known facts and traditions. Without for a moment suggesting that it is in our power, by a fortunate intuition, to resolve the varied tangle of Dionysos-cults and customs, and the place of the god in Greek religion, we may perhaps be forgiven if we say that, up to the present, the solutions offered have failed because they did not go far enough back into primitive religion, and because they were not sufficiently simple. Suppose, then, we try and verify this statement by a hypothesis which goes down to the lowest stratum of religious ideas, and is as simple as it is primitive.
In order to make such a hypothesis, we recall the direction in which we were taken by Mr. A. B. Cook and others with regard to the character of the European Sky-God. He was found to be also a Thunder-god, who dwelt animistically in a thunder-struck tree (an oak-tree by preference as being the tree that is oftenest struck), and whose bolts in the form of arrows or axe-heads were found, and often conserved in the neighbourhood of the tree, if not actually in its hollows. Moreover, as we have shown, the common belief that the thunder existed in bird-form, and could even be recognised as thunder by his red colour, led to the association of certain birds with the thunder and the thunder-tree. Last of all, it was evident that bees and honey, from being commonly found in hollow thunder-struck trees, had acquired a close affinity with the thunder-god, whether in bird-form or in his later human guise. The relationship was natural
i The oak is struck thrice as often as the pine, more than ten times as often as the beech. For the proof of this see my note in Boanerges, p. 392, which was written without knowledge that the same result had been given in Frazer, G. B., VII. ï. 298, from Warde Fowler in Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, xvi. (1913), pp. 318
in any case ; but it was emphasised by the observation that the Woodpecker rifled the bees' nests. These things being so, we find that the animistic belief makes everything that thunder touches into thunder : the trees, the bird, the man, the axe.
If this be true, we must ask a further question : if the tree and its associated animate and inanimate forms are thunder, what shall we say of the parasites of the tree ? Are they thunder also ? In the case of the mistletoe, the evidence for an affirmative reply is being piled very high by Dr. Frazer in the Golden Bough, and we have no need to repeat his arguments, or gather over again his multitudinous facts. The mistletoe, however, is not the only oak-parasite. We are thus led to our next hypothesis, which is that the ivy that grows on the oak is also thunder, and that when the phytomorph becomes the anthropomorph, the name of the new (subordinate) thunder-deity is Dionysos. In other words, Dionysos is the ivy; in the first in-' stance, he is ivy, nothing more nor less. When we make that suggestion, we have gone back almost to the lowest stratum of religious belief, and it will be agreed that if we can defend our hypothesis, it is one of extreme simplicity.
In some respects the statement is not new ; we might show that the Greeks themselves made it, and at Acharnai, says Pausanias (1., xxxi. 6) they honour an Ivy-Dionysos ; this identification is also the goal towards which a number of modern investigators have been tending. There has been a general feeling that in order to solve the origins of Dionysos and of Dionysiac worship, we must go behind the vine and the cult of the vine. Miss Harrison tried to do this when, in her Introduction to the Study of Greek Religion, she started the theory that behind the Thracian wine-god, there was a beer-god. With great ingenuity she replaced the Dionysian-goat by spelt (Tragos) and deduced the Dionysian title Bromios from oats (Bromos). Thus we lose the conventional origin of tragedy, the goat-song, and the traditional connection of Dionysos with the Thunder, so far as thunder is implied by one of his most popular titles (Bromios). Miss Harri
The reader will observe that we do not use the word parasite in a modern or scientific sense, but simply to describe one plant that grows on another, the mistletoe which is a true parasite, as well as the vine which is an apparent parasite. To the early botanist the ivy was as much a part of the oak as the mistletoe.
son's theory did not find favour, and she very soon withdrew it, and the four titles which she thought she had explained, Bromios, Braites, Sabazios, and Tragedy. The hypothesis was short-lived, and perhaps it was buried too hastily for decency. Even a hypothesis requires time for a death-certificate. I mean that it had an à priori verisimilitude which commends it ; when one thinks what beer has meant in the history of our own ancestors, and what it means to-day in almost all the tribes of East Africa, it is difficult to see how the latent inspiring principle of the beverage should have escaped some sort of divinisation. After all, there is a subterranean connection between Beer and Bible.
The fact is, however, that neither the beer-hypothesis nor the closely related mead-hypothesis is sufficient to explain Dionysos and his cult, though they may easily have been stages on the way to the recognition of a wine-god. So one of the first steps forward, i.e. backward, is to deny that Dionysos is the equivalent of alcohol. Accordingly Perdrizet said, in his Cultes et Mythes du Pangée? that “primitively the Thracian Dionysos was not a god of wine". He then suggested that Dionysos might be the ivy, but gave the wrong reason, affirming that Dionysos was the god who presided over vegetable life, and for that reason his symbol was the evergreen, whose persistence in the winter attests that the death of nature is only an appearance. This exactly misses the point; Dionysos is not a true vegetation-God; the real reason for the identification of Dionysos
. with the ivy is that the ivy is the thunder, not, in the first instances, the symbol of any vegetable life, whatever vegetable connections may ultimately be developed. Yet, on the other hand, how close Perdrizet came to the identification ! Here is an admirable summary? which he makes of the divinity of the ivy :
“Il est croyable que dans les temps très anciens la lierre passait aux yeux des Thraces pour la résidence de leur divinité, probablement même était-il un de leurs totems : ainsi s'explique que pendant la periode Hellenistique encore, les Dionysiastes se faisaient tatouer au
11.c. p. 64.
21.c. pp. 65, 66. Apparently this is taken from S. Reinach, Cultes, Mythes et Religions, ii. 105: " le lierre, comme le taureau, le chevreau, le faon, est une forme primitive de Dionysos, dont il est resté l'attribut".