« السابقةمتابعة »
parts of the world, mostly distinguished, however, for the cultivation of the vine. This Dionusos the Greeks made a great warrior, “who went with an army over the face of the whole earth ; and taught mankind as he passed along, the method of planting the vine; and how to press out the juice, and receive it in pro
Such an allusion to the character, and some of the most striking incidents in the life of Noah, can hardly have been accidental. In the ancient sacred mysteries, also as well as in the histories of the individual who survived some terrible catastrophe, we find frequent reference to the door of the ark, and the imprisonment of Noah within it for a time. “ The entrance through it,” (the door) says Bryant, “ the ancients esteemed a passage to death and darkness; but the egress from it was represented as a return to life. Hence the opening and shutting of it were religiously recorded. And as the stay in the ark was an intermediate state between a lost world and a world renewed, this was also alluded to in their hieroglyphical representations. We accordingly find Janus described with two faces ; having a retrospect to what was past, as well as a view forward to what was to come. They styled him Patulcius and Clusius, in allusion to the history above given," etc. “ The person preserved is always mentioned as preserved in an ark. He is described as being in a state of darkness, which is represented allegorically as a state of death. He then obtains a new life which is called a second birth, and he is said to have his youth renewed. He is on this account, looked upon as the first born of mankind, and both his antediluvian and postdiluvian states are commemorated, and sometimes the intermediate state also is spoken of.”+
Κικλήσκω Διονυσον, εριβρομου, ελαστηρα,
ΤΠρωτογονον, δεηυη, τριγωνον. The Triad ( Austheixios Tucas) of Plato, Proclus, and other ancient writers, Bryant supposes, with much plausibility, to have been derived from the deification of the three families of which Noah was the head. It is well known that this has been supposed to have reference to the Trinity of the Bible ; but other parts of the writings of these authors show that they had no idea of such a doctrine. And in other connections the patriarch and his three sons are frequently alluded to by the ancient mythologists.
* Diodorus Siculus, L. 3. + Bryant's Analysis of Ancient Mythology, Vol. 2, p. 255, and 209.
Orphic Hymn, 29, p. 222, as quoted by Bryant.
In the ceremonies of heathen worship, the ark was a very conspicuous object. There was the sacred Baris of the Egyptians, made use of in celebrating the rites of Osiris ; the ship of Iris at Rome, carried yearly in procession, and the sacred cups in the form of boats, called Cymbia and Scyphi, which were used in a similar manner. The deification of the ark, or rather of the genius of the ark, is very manifest in the names and characters of numerous heathen deities. The ark was distinguished by the terms Theba, Baris, Arguz, Aren, Arene, Laris, Boutus, Boeotus, Cibotus, etc. And from these names were formed different divinities. But as the terms have various degrees of correspondence, a relation more or less remote was supposed to exist between the deities formed from them. Sometimes we perceive a confounding together of the ark and Noah; but this is not unexpected, for the whole of the heathen mythology consists of an absurd mixture of truth with error.
In this connection the famous Ogdoas of the Egyptians should be mentioned. This consisted of eight persons sailing together in the sacred Baris or ark. And there is not small reason for believing that the famous Argonautic Expedition, celebrated by the Greeks, was fabulous, and that its history was in fact derived from the history of the Noachian deluge.
Among other mementos of this catastrophe incorporated into ancient mythology, we find the dove, the raven, and the rainbow. The latter, having been constituted the token of a covenant between God and man, according to Moses, was held in uncommon regard for many ages.
But the dove is found in almost all the mythological histories. It was regarded as a peculiar messenger of the gods, and the emblem of peace and good fortune. On the other hand, the raven, which unlike the dove disappointed the hopes of Noah by never returning to the ark, was generally regarded as a bird of ill omen. Among the ancient Amonians the name of the dove was lön, lönah, or lönas; hence the Olvas of the Greeks. This bird was assumed by the Babylonians for their national ensign, having been depicted upon their military standards. They were hence styled lönim, or children of the dove, and their city lönah.* It was a cus
* These titles are given in Jeremiah 25: 38, also 46: 16 avd 50: 16.
tom among the ancient mariners to let fly from the ship during a voyage, a dove or a pigeon, in order to predict by its movements the success of their voyage. It was thought to be the best time for sailing when the sun and the seven stars near the head of Taurus were in conjunction. Hence these stars are called Peleiades or Pleiades, the doves. The goddess Venus appears to have been the ancient lönah; and hence in her history are numerous allusions to the dove of Noah and the deluge.
The mythologies of other nations, besides that of Greece and Rome, to which thus far we have chiefly alluded, afford similar allusions to the Noachian deluge. We find them for instance in the histories of the Phenician Sydyk, Dagon, and Agmenes ; the Assyrian Derceto and Astarte, the Egyptian Isis, Osiris, Sesostris and Oannes; the Chinese Fohi and the Hindoo Menu, Buddhu and Vishnu. But we will not go into details ; for our object under this last head of argument is to give the reader an idea of its nature, rather than of its force, when presented in all its details. On such a subject there is, indeed, much room for the play of a fertile imagination ; but the allusions are too striking often, and the coincidences too remarkable, to permit us to impute all to fancy; and they justify us in coming to the conclusion, that the deluge of Noah formed a principal groundwork of ancient mythology. Fruitful as is the human imagination it needs realities for the basis of its airy creations. And we may be sure that the most remarkable and impressive events in a pagan nation's history will constitute the frame-work of its religion. Hence in the Sandwich Islands, since volcanic phenomena are more terrific and recent than the last deluge, they give the character to the mythology recently prevalent there. The truth on this subject is very clearly and briefly stated by Lactantius : Non res ipsas gestas finxerunt poetae ; sed rebus gestis addiderunt quendam colorem.* “ The poets did not invent the facts ; but gave them their coloring."
With all these evidences before us of an identity of origin for the vast number of traces of diluvial agency among the traditions of all nations, we cannot hesitate to admit the long cherished opinion that nearly all of them sprung from the deluge of Noah as recorded in Scripture. For among all the histories of deluges that exist, not one can compare for a moment in verisimilitude with the Mosaic : all others have so much of palpa
* De Falsa Relig. L. 1. C. 2.
ble absurdity about them as to throw them at once into the class of fabulous histories : whereas the Mosaic is entirely consistent with itself, and contains no improbabilities. If therefore we have to select one of these histories as the parent of the rest, the Mosaic account must be chosen, apart from all considerations of its inspiration. And when we have once admitted this to be true, we have only to suppose it to have been conveyed down to the present time through the various winding and muddy currents of tradition, semi-barbarism and false religion, and we shall have presented to us just such distorted representations of diluvial action as heathen mythology and tradition actually exhibit before us. On this theory we get a satisfactory account of these endlessly diversified traditions and histories; but on every other supposition we are involved in difficulty, confusion, and absurdity. The true spirit of induction, then, should lead us to acquiesce in those views that are most natural and consistent. Nor can we believe that philosophical minds would have for a moment admitted that the various histories and traditions on this subject describe different local deluges, did not such an hypothesis best comport with their geological theories or anti-biblical prejudices.
2. We shall now proceed to give a brief history of opinions respecting the nature, origin, effects and connection of the historical and geological deluges.
We do not find much on this subject that is important previous to the christian era. Some of the heathen philosophers did, indeed, speculate as to the origin and effects of those cataclysms that were supposed to have occurred in the fabulous periods of their country's history; yet for the most part, the causes assigned were either supernatural, or merely conjectural ; just such as we might expect in the absence of all accurate ideas of geological science. In at least two of the ancient writers we find principles advanced on the subject of geology not to be despised, even in the present state of the science. I refer to Pythagoras and Strabo. Says the latter, “it is not because the lands covered by seas were originally at different altitudes, that the waters have risen, or subsided, or receded from some parts and inundated others. But the reason is, that the same land is sometimes raised up and sometimes depressed, and the sea also is simultaneously raised and depressed, so that it either overflows, or returns into its own place again.” He proceeds still further with the illustration of this thought, and says, “it is not merely the small, but the large islands also, and not merely the islands but the continents which can be lifted up together with the sea and both large and small tracts may subside, etc.” This is the theory which at the present day is probably more widely adopted than any other to explain the diluvial catastrophes and other allied phenomena which have occurred upon our planet.
Among the ancient Jews there was not enough of scientific cultivation to lead to any refined speculations concerning the Noachian deluge; except perhaps some dreams unworthy of notice in the spirit of the Talmud. Nor did the christian world for several centuries exhibit any peculiar interest in the subject. Physical scien seems to have been fir revived by the Saracens in the eighth century; and in the tenth century we find some respectable Arabian writers upon geology, especially Omar “ the learned,” who wrote a work on " the Retreat of the Sea." This work, however, was thought by the Mohammedan doctors to be opposed to the Koran, and he was obliged to retract his opinions. The Koran can scarcely be said to have any cosmogony, except a slight notice of the creation, which occupied six days, and also of the deluge, which is passed over with a slight notice. A strange fable, however, derived from the Persian magi, is adopted, which represents the waters as poured out of an oven, or as the Persians have it, from the oven of an old woman.
It was not till five centuries after this period, that geological inquiries began to excite any interest in the nations of Christendom. In the beginning of the sixteenth century some excavations at Verona brought to light numerous fossil shells, and an animated controversy arose as to their nature and origin. One point of controversy was, whether these remains were real animals, or only simulacra, produced by a certain “ plastic force," or “ materia pinguis,” existing in the earth. The second point was, whether they were not deposited by the deluge of Noah. Fracastoro with great ability maintained their animal origin, and denied that Noah's deluge could have brought them into their present situations. Nevertheless, the majority were of an opposite opinion ; and even to this day, although the question has been agitated for 300 years, and the views of Fracastoro have been again and again shown to be correct, many able and learned men adhere to that opposite opinion with great confidence. We might quote in proof of this a multitude of able writers; but