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bly involved in fable, administered retribution in another state of being. And thus even the common language of the most polytheistic nations approached to monotheism.*
Wherever, indeed, there has been a great priestly Priestly caste, less occupied with the daily toils of life, and advanced beyond the mass of the people, the primitive nature-worship has been perpetually brought back, as it were, to its original elements; and, without disturbing the popular mythological religion, furnished a creed to the higher and more thinking part of the community, less wild and extravagant.t
In Persia the Magian order retained or acquired something like a pure theism, in which the Supreme Deity was represented under the symbol of the primal uncreated fire; and their Nature-worship, under the form of the two conflicting principles, preserved much more of its original simplicity than in most other countries. To the influence of a distinct sacerdotal order may be traced f, in India, the singular union
* This is strikingly expressed vulgar. One of the charges against by a Christian writer :—“ Audio the Christians was their teaching vulgus cum ad cælum manus ten- the worship of one God, which dunt, nihil aliud quam Deum di- they had full liberty to worship cunt, et Deus magnus est, et Deus themselves, to the common people : verus est, et si Deus dederit. -“ Non æque placere, rudem pleVulgi iste naturalis sermo est, an beculam rerum novarum cupidiChristiani confitentis oratio ?” tate, cæli Dominum venerari.” TriMin. Fel. Octavius. The same gault, Exped. in Sinas, pp. 438 thought may be found in Cyprian, –575. de Van. Idol., and Tertullian, † “ The learned brahmins adore Apolog.
one God, without form or quality, + This is nowhere more openly eternal, unchangeable, and occupyprofessed than in China. The ing all space: but they carefully early Jesuit missionaries assert that confine these doctrines to their the higher class (the literatorum own schools, as dangerous ; and secta) despised the idolatry of the teach in public a religion, in which,
of the sublimest allegory, and a sort of lofty poetical religious philosophy, with the most monstrous and incoherent superstitions; and the appearance of the profound political religion of Egypt in strange juxta-position with the most debasing Fetichism, the worship of reptiles and vegetables. *
From this Nature-worship arose the beautiful anthropomorphism of the Greeks, of which the Homeric poetry, from its extensive and lasting
Anthropomorphism of the Greeks.
in supposed compliance with the to me not to pay sufficient atten-
the ablest and most uncom- tion of particular animals to partipromising opponents of the high cular deities among their Indian view of Indian civilisation, appears ancestors.
popularity, may in one sense be considered the parent. The primitive traditions and the local superstitions of the different races were moulded together in these songs, which, disseminated throughout Greece, gave a kind of federal character to the religion of which they were, in some sort, the sacred books. But the genius of the people had already assumed its bias : few, yet still some, vestiges remain in Homer of the earlier theogonic fables. * Conscious, as it were, and prophetic of their future pre-eminence in all that constitutes the physical and mental perfection of our race, this wonderful people conformed their religion to themselves. The cumbrous and multiform idol, in which wisdom, or power, or fertility, were represented by innumerable heads or arms, or breasts, as in the Ephesian Diana, was refined into a being, only distinguished from human nature by its preterhuman development of the noblest physical qualities of man. The imagination here took another and a nobler course; it threw an ideal grandeur and an unearthly loveliness over the human form, and by degrees deities became men, and men deities, or, as the distinction between the godlike (Jeosixemos) and the divine (9£ãos) became more indistinct, were united in the intermediate form of heroes and demi-gods. The character of the people here, as elsewhere, operated on the religion; the religion re-acted on the
* Nothing can be more ground- the history and design of this change less or unsuccessful than the at- are admirably traced by Lobeck, tempt of later writers to frame an Aglaophamus, i. 158. allegorical system out of Homer ; VOL, I.
CHAP. popular character. The religion of Greece was
the religion of the Arts, the Games, the Theatre; it was that of a race, living always in public, by whom the corporeal perfection of man had been carried to the highest point. In no other country would the legislator have taken under his protection the physical conformation, in some cases the procreation, in all the development of the bodily powers by gymnastic education ; and it required the most consummate skill in the sculptor to preserve the endangered pre-eminence of the gods, in whose images were embodied the perfect
models of power and grace and beauty.* Religion of
The religion of Rome was political and military t. Springing originally from a kindred stock to that of earlier Greece, the rural Gods of the first cultivators of Italyf, it received many of its rites from that remarkable people, the Etruscans; and rapidly adapted itself, or was forced by the legislator into an adaptation to the character of the people. Mars or Gradivus was the divine ancestor
* Maximus Tyrius (Dissert. viii.) jected many of the more obscene defends the anthropomorphism of and monstrous fables of the Greeks. the Greeks, and distinguishes it from But it is as part of the civil polity the symbolic worship of barbarians, that he chiefy admires the Roman “ If the soul of man is the nearest religion, lib. ii
. c. 7. and most like to God, God would I The Palilia and other rural not have enclosed in an unworthy rites. The statues of the god"tabernacle that which bears the desses Seja and Segesta, of seed closest resemblance to himself.” and of harvest, stood in the great Hence he argues that God ought Circus in the time of Pliny. H. N. to be represented under the noblest xviii. 2. form, that of man.
♡ Beaufort's République Ro+ Dionysius Halicarn, compares maine, b. i. ch. 5. Compare the the grave and serious character of recent and valuable work of Walthe Roman as contrasted with the ter, Geschichte des Römischen Greek religion. The Romans re- Rechts, p. 177.
of the race.* The religious calendar was the early CHAP. history of the people ; a large part of the festivals was not so much the celebration of the various deities, as the commemoration of the great events in their annals. The priesthood was united with the highest civil and military offices; and the great occupation of Roman worship seems to have been to secure the stability of her constitution, and still more, to give a religious character to her wars, and infuse a religious confidence of success into her legionaries. The great office of the diviners, whether augurs or aruspices, was to choose the fortunate day of battle; the Fetiales, religious officers, denounced war: the standards and eagles possessed a kind of sanctity; the eagle was in fact a shrine.I The altar had its place in the centre of the camp, as the ark of God in that of the Israelites. The Triumph may be considered as the great religious ceremony of the nation ; the god Terminus, who never receded, was, as it were, the deified ambition of Rome. At length Rome herself was impersonated and assumed her rank in heaven, as it were the representative of the all-conquering and all-ruling republic.
* Et tamen ante omnes Martem coluere
+ Compare the proportion of Ropriores, Hoc dederat studiis bellica turba suis. man and of religious legend in the After reciting the national deities Fasti of Ovid. See, likewise, Conof other cities, the religious poet of stant, I. 21, &c. Rome proceeds,
Ι Ο γάρ αετός ώνομασμένος (έστι Mars Latio venerandus erat; quia presidet δε νεώς μικρος) και εν αυτώ αετός armis,
xpvogūç éviệpurai, Dion. Cass. xl. Arma feræ genti remque decusque dabant.
Ovid, Fasti, iii. 79. c.18. Gibbon, i. 16. Moyle's Works, The month of Mars began the ii. 86. Compare Tac. Ann. i. 39.