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every new object and every unusual event. Savages, having no protection against storms, tempests, nor other external accidents, and having no pleasures but in gratifying hunger, thirst, and animal love ; have much to fear, and little to hope. In that disconfolate condition, they attribute the bulk of their distresses to invisible beings, who in their opinion must be malevolent. This seems to have been the opinion of the Greeks in the days of Solon; as appears in a conversation between him and Crcesus King of Lydia, mentioned by Herodotus in the first book of his history. “ Croesus, said Solon, you ask me
, “ about human affairs'; and I answer as
one who thinks, that all the gods are u envious and disturbers of mankind.” The negroes on the coast of Guinea, dread their deities as tyrants and oppressors : having no conception of a good deity, they attribute the few blessings they receive, to the soil, to the rivers, to the trees, and to the plants. The Lithuanians continued Pagans down to the fourteenth century ; and worshipped in gloomy woods, where their deities were held to reside. Their worship probably was prompted by fear, which is allied to gloominess. The people of Kamskatka acknowledge to this day many malevolent deities, having little or no notion of a good deity. They believe the air, the water, the mountains, and the woods, to be inhabited by malevolent fpirits, whom they fear and worship. The favages of Guiana afcribe to the devil even their most common difeases ; nor do they ever think of another remedy, but to apply to a sorcerer to drive him away. Such negroes as believe in the devil, paint his images white. Beside the Esquimaux, there are many tribes in the extensive country of Labrador, who believe the Deity to be malevolent, and worship him out of fear. When they eat, they throw a piece of flesh into the fire as an offering to him; and when they go to
; sea in a canoe, they throw something on the shore to render him propitious. Sometimes, in a capricious fit, they go out with guns and hatchets to kill him; and on their return boast that they have done so.
Conviction of superior beings, who, like men, are of a mixed nature, fometimes doing good, sometimes mischief, constitutes the second stage. This came
to be the system of theology in Greece. The introduction of writing among the Greeks while they were little better than savages, produced a compound of character and manners, that has not a parallel in any other nation. They were acute in science, skilful in fine arts, extremely deficient in morals, gross beyond conception in theology, and superstitious to a degree of folly; a strange jumble of exquisite sense and absurd nonsense. They held their gods to resemble men in their external figure, and to be corporeal. In the 21st book of the Iliad, Minerva with a huge stone beats Mars to the ground, whose monstrous body covered seven broad acres.
As corporeal beings, they were supposed to require the nourishment of meat, drink, and sleep. Homer mentions more than once the inviting of gods to a feast: and Pausanias reports, that in the temple of Bacchus at Athens, there were figures of clay, representing a feast given by Amphyction to Bacchus and other deities. The inhabitants of the island Java are not so gross in their conceptions, as to think that the gods eat the offerings prefented to them: but it is their opinion, that a deity brings his mouth near the offering, sucks out all its favour, and leaves it tasteless like water * The Grecian gods, as described by Homer, dress, bathe, and anoint, like mortals. Venus, after being detected by her husband in the embraces of Mars, retires to Paphos,
Where to the pow'r an hundred altars rise,
ODYSSEY, book 8.
men, and had
Juno's dress is most poetically described, Iliad, book 14. It was also universally believed, that the gods were fond of wo
children by them. The ancient Germans thought more fenfibly, that the gods were too high to resemble men in any degree, or to be confined within the walls of a temple. The Greeks seem to have thought, that the gods did not much exceed themselves in
* All Greek writers, and those in their neighbourhood, form the world out of a chaos. They had no such exalted notion of a deity as to believe, that he could make the world out of nothing.
“ If it be true,
knowledge. When Agesilaus journeyed with his private retinue, he usually lodged in a temple ; making the gods witnesses, says Plutarch, of his most secret actions. The Greeks thought, that a god, like a man, might know what passed within his own house ; without knowing any thing passing at a distance. says Aristotle, (Rhetoric, book 2.)
that even the gods do not know every thing, there is littlę reason to expect great
knowledge among men.” Agamemnon in Eschylus, putting off his travelling habit and dressing himself in fplendid purple, is afraid of being seen and envied by some jealous god. We learn from Seneca, that people strove for the seat next to the image of the deity, that their prayers might be the better heard. But what we have chiefly to remark head, is, that the Grecian gods were, like men, held capable of doing both good and ill. Jupiter, their highest deity, was a ravisher of women, and a notorious adulterer. In the second book of the Iliad, he sends a lying dream to deceive Agamemnon. Mars feduces Venus by