« ForrigeFortsæt »
dreams is the chief of the village' ... the Kaneka chiefs are medicine men.” 1
Thus we are brought round once more to the priest-king and to our question, how did a man come to be invested with the office? Negatively, we have urged reasons to reject Mr. Frazer's theory that it was by becoming so great a magician that his fellow-tribesmen thought he was a god. Positively, we have argued that in all cases the human “image" of the god is distinguished from the god, and that the divine spirit must enter the man before he can be the human representative of the god, just as the altar-stone must be dashed with blood, anointed with oil, clad in the skin of the sacred animal, etc., before the god can be considered to be present in it. Further, the modes of consecration—whether of priest or king—are various, but they can all be traced back to the primitive idea of the sacrificial meal, namely, that it is by participation in the blood of the god that the spirit of the god enters into the worshipper. It is therefore to some feature of the ritual of the primitive sacrificial meal that we must look for the solution of our problem. Now, the mere drinking of the blood would not suffice to mark off one of the worshippers, for all the clansmen drank of the blood, and all so far became possessed of the divine spirit. But on the man who was to be the king-priest that spirit descended in a larger measure ; and it was some act performed by him, and him alone, during the rite, that marked him off as thenceforth more holy than his fellow-men.
Now we have seen that in historic times the distinguishing function of the priest, and the key to his priestly power, is that he deals the first and fatal blow at the victim. Unless the victim is slain there can be no sacrifice, no drawing near to the god, and the community must be left defenceless against its supernatural foes. But the victim is the animal whose life the clan are bound to respect as the life of a clansman, to kill it is murder (as in the Bouphonia at Athens), nay! it is killing the god. The clansman, therefore, whose religious conviction of the clan's need of communion with the god was deepest, would eventually and after long waiting be the one to strike, and take upon himself the issue,
Lang, Custom and Myth, 237.
for the sake of his fellow-men. “The dreadful sacrifice is performed not with savage joy but with awful sorrow.”1 So great was the difficulty of finding anyone to strike the first blow, that the practice of stoning the victim to death was frequently adopted, as thereby the responsibility was divided amongst all the clansmen—a practice which survived in the custom in Northern Europe of pelting the representative of the vegetation spirit, in the similar Xcooßoría of the Greeks (e.g. in the Pentheus myth) and a New World custom already referred to. That shedding even human blood is a crime, the responsibility of which must be shared by all the community, appears from the fact that, when a criminal has to be executed, it is a negro custom to tear him to pieces. Amongst the Hottentots the chief gives the first blow, and then the rest fall on the criminal and beat him to death ;3 and amongst the Tuppin Imbas, when a captive is to be eaten, the man who deals him the first blow incurs the guilt, and, as blood must have blood, the king draws blood from his arm, and for the rest of the day he must remain in his hammock. But the fact that the priest in all religions slays the victim suffices to show that the earlier custom of stoning must have given place universally to that which gave rise to the priesthood.
That blood-guiltiness would attach to the man who struck the first blow is evident. But the king-priest is distinguished from his fellows by his superior holiness, and it is not clear that the act of dealing the blow would ipso facto give him that larger measure of the divine afflatus which marked the priest off from his fellow-worshippers. In the Philippine Islands it does indeed seem to have been the belief that the slaying of the victim was, if not the cause, at any rate the occasion of the god's entering into the slayer, as appears from
1 Robertson Smith, s.v. “Sacrifice" in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
2 Supra, p. 215-6. For other instances, see G. B. i. 264 ; B. K. 413; Myth. Forsch. 209; Journal of Hellenic Studies, xiv. ii. 252-3; the Adopolia in Troezen (Paus. ii. xxxii. 2), at the Eleusinia, the Lupercalia, and Nonæ Caprotinæ ; and cf. the stoning of the papuakos (Harp. 8.v.).
8 So too the scapegoat in Asia Minor, the Mamurius Vetus in Rome, and the slave at the Chæronean festival, were beaten-not as a piece of sympathetic magic.
* Bastian, Der Mensch, iii. 3.
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 vn 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 vn 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
1 Thevenot, Divers Voyages, iv., “Relation des Isles Philippines,”
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 have 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
* 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 Ap. pendix, p. 418, to his edition of Hdt. i, and ii.).