Thread: Makows New Book
View Single Post
Old 09-26-2007, 09:03 PM
redrat11 redrat11 is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,202
Default Re: Makows New Book


At all times the Jews have regarded an oath to the Christians as not being binding. If this interpretation of the Sacaea is correct, it is obvious that one important feature of the ceremony is wanting in the brief notices of the festival that have come down to us.

The death of the man-god at the festival is recorded, but nothing is said of his resurrection. Yet if he really personated a being of the Adonis or Attis type, we may feel pretty sure that his dramatic death was followed at a shorter or longer interval by his dramatic revival, just as at the festivals of Attis and Adonis the resurrection of the dead god quickly succeeded to his mimic death. (Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, pp. 183 sq., 227)

Here, however, a difficulty presents itself. At the Sacaea the man-god died a real, not a me mimic death; and in ordinary life the resurrection even of a man-god is at least not an everyday occurrence. What was to be done? The man, or rather the god, was undoubtedly dead.

How was he to come to life again? Obviously the best, if not the only way, was to set another and living man to support the character of the reviving god, and we may conjecture that this was done. We may suppose that the insignia of royalty which had adorned the dead man were transferred to his successor, who, arrayed in them, would be presented to his rejoicing worshipers as their god come to life again; and by his side would probably be displayed a woman in the character of his divine consort, the goddess Ishtar or Astarte.

In favor of this hypothesis it may be observed that it at once furnishes a clear and intelligible explanation of a remarkable feature in the book of Esther which has not yet, so far as I am aware, been adequately elucidated; I mean that apparent duplication of the principal characters to which I have already directed the reader's attention. If I am right, Haman the temporary king of mortal god who was put to death at the Sacaea; and his rival Mordecai represents the other temporary king who, on the death of his predecessor, was invested with his royal insignia, and exhibited to the people as the god come to life again. Similarly Vashti, the deposed queen in the narrative, corresponds to the woman who played the part of queen and goddess to the first mock king, the Haman; and her successful rival, Esther or Ishtar, answers to the woman who figured as the divine consort of the second mock king, the Mordecai or Marduk. A trace of the sexual license accorded to the mock king of the festival seems to be preserved in the statement that King Ahasuerus found Haman fallen on the bed with Esther and asked, "Will he even force the queen before me in the house?" (Esther vii. 8)

We have seen that the mock king of the Sacaea did actually possess the right of using the real king's concubines, and there is much to be said for the view of Movers that he began his short reign by exercising the right in public. (Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, pp. P. 368) In the parallel ritual of Adonis the marriage of the goddess with her ill-fated lover was publicly celebrated the day before his mimic death. (Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second PT. VI)

A clear reminiscence of the time when the relation between Esther and Mordecai was conceived as much more intimate than mere cousin ship appears to be preserved in some of the Jewish plays acted at Purim, in which Mordecai appears as the lover of Esther; and this significant indication is confirmed by the teaching of the rabbis that King Ahasuerus never really knew Esther, but that a phantom in her likeness lay with him while the real Esther sat on the lap of Mordecai. (J.J. Schudt, Jüdische Maerkwüdigkeiten (Frankfort and Leipsic, 1714), ii. Theil, p. 316)

The Persian setting, in which the author of the book of Esther has framed his highly-colored picture, naturally suggests that the Jews derived their feast of Purim not directly from the old Babylonians, but from their Persian conquerors. Even if this could be demonstrated, it would in no way invalidate the theory that Purim originated in the Babylonian festival of the Sacaea, since we know that the Sacaea was celebrated by the Persians. (Dio Chrysostom makes Diogenes say to Alexander the Great, The festival was mentioned by Ctesias in the second book of his Persian history (Athenaeus, xiv. 44 p. 639c); and down to the time of Strabo it was associated with the nominal worship of the Persian goddess Anaitis (Strabo, xi. 8. 4 and 5, p. 512))

Hence it becomes worth while to enquire whether in the Persian religion we can detect any traces of a festival akin to the Sacaea or Purim. Here Lagarde has shown the way by directing attention to the old Persian ceremony known as the "Ride of the Beardless One." (Lagarde, "Purim," pp. 51) This was a rite performed both in Persia and Babylonia at the beginning of spring, on the first day of the first month, which in the most ancient Persian calendar corresponded to March, so that the date of the ceremony agrees with that of the Babylonian New Year festival of Zakmuk.

A beardless and, if possible, one-eyed buffoon was set naked on an ass, a horse, or a mule, and conducted in a sort of mock triumph through the streets of the city. In one hand he held a crow and in the other a fan, with which he fanned himself, complaining of the heat, while the people pelted him with ice and snow and drenched him with cold water. He was supposed to drive away the cold, and to aid him perhaps in discharging this useful function he was fed with hot food, and hot stuffs were smeared on his body. Riding on his ass and attended by all the king's household, if the city happened to be the capital, or, if it was not, by all the retainers of the governor, who were also mounted,

He paraded the streets and extorted contributions. He stopped at the doors of the rich, and if they did not give him what he asked for, he befouled their garments with mud or a mixture of red ochre and water, which he carried in an earthenware pot. If a shopkeeper hesitated a moment to respond to his demands, the importunate beggar had the right to confiscate all the goods in the shop; so the tradesmen who saw him bearing down on them, not unnaturally hastened to anticipate his wants by contributing of the substance before he could board them.

Everything that he thus collected form break of day to the time of morning prayers belonged to the king or governor of the city; but everything that he laid hands on between the first and the second hour of prayer he kept for himself. After the second prayers he disappeared, and if the people caught him later in the day they were free to beat him to their heart's content. "In like manner," proceeds one of the native writers who has described the custom,

"people at the present time appoint a New Year Lord and make merry. And this they do because the season, which is the beginning of Azur or March, coincides with the sun's entry into Aries, for on that day they disport themselves and rejoice because the winter is over." (Th. Hyde, Historia religion is veterum Persarum (Oxford, 1700), pp. 183, 249-251; AlbîrûnÏ, The Chronology of Ancient Nations, translated and edited by Dr. C. Edward Sachau (London, 1879), p. 211)

Now in this harlequin, who rode through the streets attended by all the king's men, and levying contributions which went either to the royal treasury or to the pocket of the collector, we recognize the familiar features of the mock or temporary king, who is invested for a short time with the pomp and privileges of royalty for reasons which have been already explained. (The Dying God, pp. 148)

The abrupt disappearance of the Persian clown at a certain hour of the day, coupled with the leave given to the populace to thrash him if they found him afterwards, points plainly enough to the harder fate that probably awaited him in former days, when he paid with his life for his brief tenure of a kingly crown.

The resemblance between his burlesque progress and that of Mordecai through the streets of Susa is obvious; though the Jewish author of Esther has depicted in brighter colors the pomp of his hero "in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple," riding the king's own charger, and led through the city by one of the king's most noble princes. (Esther vi. 8. Viii. 15)

The difference between the two scenes is probably not to be explained simply by the desire of the Jewish writer to shed a halo of glory round the personage whom he regarded as the deliverer of his people. So long as the temporary king was a real substitute for the reigning monarch, and had to die sooner or later in his stead. It was natural that he should be treated with a greater show of deference, and should simulate his royal brother more closely than a clown who had nothing worse than a beating to fear when he laid down his office. In short, after the serious meaning of the custom had been forgotten, and the substitute was allowed to escape with his life, the high tragedy of the ancient ceremony would rapidly degenerate into farce. But while the "Ride of the Beardless One" is, from one point of view, a degenerate copy of the original, regarded from another point of view, it preserves some features which are almost certainly primitive, though they do not appear in the kindred Babylonian and Jewish festivals.

The Persian custom bears the stamp of a popular festivity rather than of a state ceremonial, and everywhere it seems as if popular festivals, when left to propagate themselves freely among the folk, reveal their old meaning and intention more transparently than when they have been adopted into the official religion and enshrined in a ritual.

The simple thoughts of our simple forefathers are better understood by their unlettered descendants than by the majority of educated people; their rude rites are more faithfully preserved and more truly interpreted by a rude peasantry than by the priest, who wraps up their nakedness in the gorgeous pall of religious pomp, or by the philosopher, who dissolves their crudities into the thin air of allegory.

In the present instance the purpose of the "Ride of the Beardless One" at the beginning of spring is sufficiently obvious; it was meant to hasten the departure of winter and the approach of summer. We are expressly told that the clown who went about fanning himself and complaining of the heat, while the populace snowballed him, was supposed to dispel the cold; and even without any such assurance we should be justified in inferring as much from his behavior.

On the principles of homoeopathic or imitative magic, which is little more than an elaborate system of make-believe, you can make the weather warm by pretending that it is so; or if you cannot, you may be sure that there is some person wiser than yourself who can.

Such a wizard, in the estimation of the Persians, was the beardless one-eyed man who went through the performance I have described; and no doubt his physical defects were believed to contribute in some occult manner to the success of the rite. The ceremony was this, as Lagarde acutely perceived, the oriental equivalent of those popular European customs which celebrate the advent of spring by representing in a dramatic form the expulsion or defeat of winter by the victorious summer. (The Dying God, pp. 254)

But whereas in Europe the two rival seasons are often, if not regularly, personated by two actors or two effigies, in Persia a single actor sufficed. Whether he definitely represented winter or summer is not quite clear; but his pretense of suffering from heat and his final disappearance suggest that, if he personified either of the seasons, it was the departing winter rather than the coming summer. If there is any truth in the connection thus traced between Purim and the "Ride of the Beardless One," we are now in a position finally to unmask the leading personages in the book of Esther. I have attempted to show that Haman and Vashti are little more than doubles of Mordecai and Esther, who in turn conceal under a thin disguise the features of Marduk and Ishtar, the great god and goddess of Babylon.

But why, the reader may ask, should the divine pair be thus duplicated and the two pairs set in opposition to each other? The answer is suggested by the popular European celebrations of spring to which I have just adverted. If my interpretation of these customs is right, the contrast between the summer and winter, or between the life and death, which figure in effigy or in the persons of living representatives at the spring ceremonies of our peasantry, is fundamentally a contrast between the dying or dead vegetation of the old and the sprouting vegetation of the new year, a contrast which would lose nothing of its point when, as in ancient Rome and Babylon and Persia, the beginning of spring was also the beginning of the new year.

In these and in all the ceremonies we have been examining the antagonism is not between powers of a different order, but between the same power viewed in different aspects as old and young; it is, in short, nothing but the eternal and pathetic contrast between youth and age. And as the power or spirit of vegetation is represented irreligious ritual and popular custom by a human pair, whether they be called Ishtar and Tammuz, or Venus and Adonis, or the Queen and King of May, so we may expect to find the old decrepit spirit of the past year personated by one pair, and the fresh young spirit of the new year by another. This, if my hypothesis is right, is the ultimate explanation of the struggle between Haman and Vashti on the one side, and their doubles Mordecai and Esther on the other.

In the last analysis both Parts stood for the powers that make for the fertility of plants and perhaps also of animals; (The interpretation here given of the four principal personages in the book of Esther was suggested by me in the second edition of this book (1900). It agrees substantially with the one which has since been adopted yb Professor H. Zimmern (in E. Schrader's Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, Berlin, 1902, p. 19), and by Professor P. Haupt (Purim, Leipsic, 1906, pp. 21)) but the one pair embodied the failing energies of the past, and the other the rigorous and growing energies of the coming year. Both powers, on my hypothesis, were personified not merely in myth, but in custom; for year by year a human couple undertook to quicken the life of nature by a union in which as in a microcosm, the loves of tree and plant, of herb and flower, of bird and beast were supposed in some mystic fashion to be summed up. (In this connection it deserves to be noted that among the anicent Persians marriages are said to have been usually celebrated at the vernal equinox (Strabo, xv. 3. 17, p. 733))

Originally, we may conjecture, such couples exercised their functions for a whole year, on the conclusion of which the male partner; the divine king, was put to death; but in historical times it seems that, as a rule, the human god; the Saturn, Zoganes, Tammuz, or whatever he was called, enjoyed his divine privileges, and discharged his divine duties only for a short part of the year.

This curtailment of his reign on the earth was probably introduced at the time when the old hereditary divinities or defied kings contrived to shift the most painful part of their duties to a substitute, whether that substitute was a son or a slave or a malefactor. Having to die as a king, it was necessary that the substitute should also live as a king for a season; but the real monarch would naturally restrict within the narrowest limits both of time and of power a reign which, so long as it lasted, necessarily encroached upon and indeed superseded his own. (The five days' duration of the mock king's reign may possibly have been an intercalary period introduced, as in ancient Egypt and Mexico, of the purpose of equalizing a year of 360 days & twelve months of 30 days each) to a solar year reckoned at 365 days. See above, pp. 339)

What became of the divine king's female partner, the human goddess who shared his bed and transmitted his beneficent energies to the rest of nature, we cannot say. So far as I am aware, there is little or no evidence that she like him suffered death when her primary function was discharged. (However, the legend that Semiramis burned herself on a pyre in Babylon for grief at the loss of a favorite horse (Hyginus, Fab. 243; compare Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii. 155) may perhaps point t o an old custom of compelling the human representative of the goddess to perish in the flames.

We have seen above that one of the lovers of Ishtar had the form of a horse. Hence the legend recorded by Hyginus is a fresh link in the chain of evidence which binds Semiramis to Ishtar) The nature of maternity suggests an obvious reason for sparing her a little longer, till that mysterious law, which links together woman's life with the changing aspects of the nightly sky, had been fulfilled by the birth of an infant god, who should in his turn, reared perhaps by her tender care, grew up to live and die for the world.

We may now sum up the general results of the enquiry which we have pursued in the present chapter. We have found evidence that festivals of the type of the Saturnalia, of a man in the character of a god, were at one time held all over the ancient world from Italy to Babylon. Such festivals (Such festivals seem to have been held by agricultural communities for the good of the crops, and at them the king or his substitute appears to have personated the god of fertility, and to have been put to death in character in order to ensure that the god should rise from the dead with renewed youth and vigor) seem to date from an early age in the history of agriculture, when people lived in small communities, each presided over by a sacred or divine kind, whose primary duty was to secure the orderly succession of the seasons, the fertility of the earth, and the fecundity both of cattle and of women. Associated with him his wife or other female consort, with whom he performed some of the necessary ceremonies, and who therefore shared his divine character.
When the Jews have been wandering around for a whole week, soon they cheat a Christian here and there, they commonly gather together on their Sabbath day and boast of their knavish tricks among themselves, whereupon the other Jews declare...they shall take the heart from out of the body of a Christian, and say furthermore...the best of the Christians should be beaten to death. Originally his term of office appears to have been limited to a year, on the conclusion of which he was put to death; but in time he contrived by force or craft to extend his reign and sometimes to procure a substitute, who after a shortand more or less nominal tenure of the crown was slain in his stead. At first the substitute for the divine father was probably the divine son, but afterwards this rule was no longer insisted on, and still later the growth of a human feeling demanded that the victim should always be a condemned criminal.

In this advanced stage of degernation it is no wonder if th elight of divinity suffered eclipse, and many should fail to detect the god in the malefactor. Yet the downward career of fallen deity does not stop here; even a criminal comes to be thought too good to personate a god on the gallows or in the fire; and then there is nothing left but to make up a more or less grotesque effigy, and so to hang, burn, or otherwise destroy the god in the person of this sorry representative.

By this time the original meaning of the ceremony may be so completely forgotten that the puppet is supposed to represent some historical personage, who earned the hatred and contempt of his fellows in his life, and whose memory has ever since been held up to eternal execration by the annual destruction of his effigy. The figures of Haman, of the Carnival, and of Winter or Death which are or used to be annually destroyed in spring by Jews, Catholics, and the peasants of Central Europe respectively, appear to be all lineal descendants of those human incarnations of the powers of nature whose life and death were deemed essential to the welfare of mankind. But of the three the only one which has preserved a clear trace of its original meaning is the effigy of Winter or Death.

In others the ancient significance of the custom as a magical ceremony designed to direct the course of nature has been almost wholly obscured by a thick after growth of legend and myth. The cause of this distinction is that, whereas the practice of destroying an effigy of Winter or Death has been handed down from time immoral through generations of simple peasants, the festivals of Purim and the Carnival, as well as their Babylonian and Italian prototypes,

the Sacaea and the Saturnalia, were for centuries domesticated in cities, where they were necessarily exposed to those thousand transforming and disintegrating currents of speculation and enquiry, of priestcraft and policy, which roll their turbid waters through the busy haunts of men, but leave undefiled the limpid springs of mythic fancy in the country.

If there is any truth in the analysis of the Saturnaila and kindred festivals which I have now brought to a close, it seems to point to a remarkable homogeneity of civilization throughout Southern Europe and Western Asia in prehistoric times. How far such homogeneity of race is a question for the ethnologists; it does not concern us here. But without discussing it, I may remind the reader that in the far east of Asia we have met with temporary kings whose magical functions and intimate relation to agriculture stand out in the clearest light; (The Dying God, p. 148) while India furnishes examples of kings who have regularly been obliged to sacrifice themselves at the end of a term of years. (The Dying God, p. 46)

All these things appear to hang together; all of them may, perhaps, be regarded as the shattered remnants of a uniform zone of religion and society which at a remote era belted the Old World from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. Whether that was so or not, I may at least claim to have made it probable that if the King of the Wood at Aricia lived and died as an incarnation of a sylvan deity, the functions he thus discharged to them we need not go beyond the bounds of Italy, where seed; was annually slain in the person of a human representative at his ancient festival of the Saturnalia.

It is possible that such sacrifices of deified men, performed for the salvation of the world, may have helped to beget the notion that the universe or some part of it was originally created out of the bodies of gods offered up in sacrifice. Certainly it is curious that notions of this sort meet us precisely in parts of the world where such sacrifices appear to have been regularly accomplished. Thus in ancient Mexico, where the sacrifice of human beings in the character of gods formed a conspicuous feature of the national religion, it is said that in the beginning, when as yet the light of day was not, the gods created the sun to illumine the earth by voluntarily burning themselves in the fire, leaping one after the other into the flames of a great furnace. (B. De Sahagun, Histoire Gènèrale des Choses de la Nouvelle Espagne, traduite par D. Jourdanet et R. Simeon (Parts, 1880), pp. 478-480. Compare E. Seler, Altmexikanische Studien, ii. (Berlin, 1899) p. 117)

Again, in the Babylonian Genesis the great god Bel crated the world by cleaving the female monster Tiamat in twain and using the severed halves of her body to form the heaven and the earth. Afterwards, perceiving that the earth was waste and void, he obligingly ordered one of the gods to cut off his, the Creator's, head, and with the flowing blood mixed with clay he kneaded a paste out of which he molded men and animals. (Berosus, quoted by Eusebius, Chronicorum liber prior, ed. A. Schoene (Berlin, 1875), coll. 14-18; id., in Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, ed. C. Muller, ii. 497 sq; P. Jensen, Assyrisch-Babylonische Mythen und Epen (Berlin, 1900), pp. 2; L. W. King, Babylonian Religion and Mythology (London, 1899), pp. 54; M. Jastrow, The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria (Boston, U.S.A., 1898), pp. 408; H. Zimmern, in E. Schrader's Die Keilinschriften und das alte Testament (Berlin, 1902), p. 488; M.J. Lagrange, Etudes sur les Religions Sèmitiques (Parts, 1905), p. 366; R. W. Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament (Oxford, preface dated 1911), p. 31, 36. In the Hebrew account of the creation (Genesis 1:2) "the deep" is a reminiscence of the Babylonian mythical monster Tiamt) Similarly in a hymn of the Rig Veda we read how the gods created the world out of the dismembered body of the great primordial giant Purushu. The sky was made out of his head, the earth out of his feet, the sun out of his eye, and the moon out of his mind; animals and men were also engendered from his dripping fat or his limbs, and the great gods Indra and Agni sprang from his mouth. (Hymns of the Rig Ved, x. 90 (vol. Iv. Pp. 289-293 of R.T.H. Griffith's translation, Benares, 1889-1892). Compare A.A. Macdonell, Vedic Mythology (Strasburg, 1897), p. 12)

The crude, nay savage, account of creation thus set forth by the poet was retained by the Brahman doctors of a later age and refined by them into a subtle theory of sacrifice in general. According to them the world was not only created in the beginning by the sacrifice of the creator Prajapati, the Lord of Creatures; to this day it is renewed and preserved solely by a repetition of that mystic sacrifice in the daily sacrificial ritual celebrated by the Brahmans. Every day the body of the Creator and Savior is broken anew, and every day it is pieced together for the restoration and conservation of a universe which otherwise must dissolve and be shattered into fragments. Thus is the world continually created afresh by the self-sacrifice of the deity; and, wonderful to relate, the priest who offers the sacrifice identifies himself with the Creator, and so by the very act of sacrificing renews the universe and keeps up uninterrupted the revolution of time and matter.

All things depend on his beneficent, nay divine activity, from the heaven above to the earth beneath, from the greatest god to the meanest worm, from the sun and moon to the humblest blade of grass and the minutest particle of dust. Happily this grandiose theory of sacrifice as a process essential to the salvation of the world does not oblige the priest to imitate his glorious prototype by dismembering his own body and shedding his blood on the altar; on the contrary a comfortable corollary deduced form it holds out to him the pleasing prospect of living for the unspeakable benefit of society to a good old age, indeed of stretching out the brief span of human existence to a full hundred years. (The Satapatha Brâhmana, translated by Julius Eggeling, Part iv. (Oxford, 1897) pp. xiv-xxiv. (The Sacred Books of the East, vol. Xliii). Compare Sylvain Lévi, La doctrine du sacrifice dans les Brâhmanas (Parts, 1898), p. 13) Well is it, not only for the priest but for mankind, when with the slow progress of civilization and humanity the hard facts of a cruel ritual have thus been softened and diluted into the nebulous abstractions of a mystical theology.
Reply With Quote