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East, through immigrants, such as Cadmus, Pelops, Cecrops, etc., who were afterward deified through gratitude.
That the legend of the golden age was the oldest remembrance, appears almost conclusively also from the Saturnalia, the Mysteria, and other kindred festivals. The nature of the Saturnalia is well known. They were a beautiful and noble remembrance of that golden age of freedom, when there were neither masters nor servants, when all men were equal and happy. They pointed backward, and, at the same time, prophetically forward, like the Year of Jubilee, with its prescribed manumissions, which pointed, in a brighter light than the festival in honor of Hercules and the Saturnalia, likewise backward to paradise and forward to the times of Him who was to set all the imprisoned free. These heathen festivals, however they may have been corrupted in the course of time, prove conclusively both the reality of the times of paradise, and that the heathen world had a distinct recollection of them, popular festivals being never the productions of a dream or of mere fancy. The same is the case with the lamentations about Linos, Mameros in Egypt, Adonis in Phenice and Cyprus, about Hylas in Mysia, Narkissos by the citizens of Thesbiæ on the Helicon, and with the mourning of Demeter for her danghter. The import of all these myths is this: sons of God and their favorites fall victims of death and destruction. The popular celebration of these myths consisted for the most part in this: that, as in the case of Adovis, who even in Hades still loved by Persephone is permitted every spring to return to the light of the sun in order to enjoy the company of Aphrodite, his death was celebrated with dirges, but his return from Hades with songs of joy.
Lasaulx, in his programme, “The Lamentation about Linos," has conclusively shown how probable it is that all these legends and lamentations were but the echo of the sorrow of mankind for the fall of the progenitor of the race, and that by Linos and others of the same class, ultimately no one else than Adam must be understood. Moreover, and this is the main point,—these lamentations and their celebrations were complaints of nature, and referred to the great catastrophes in nature,--spring, summer, fall, and winter, -in which changes of
nature man saw the image of his own misery and wretchedness. From times immemorial the outward world has been considered the reflex of the inner life of man, and Virgil (Geor., II., 336) compares beautifully spring, the awaking of nature out of death, with the golden age, with which the life of nature from chaos began. These lamentations then, being at the same time complaints of nature, involved the idea that man and nature sustain an intimate relation to each other, and that the fall and death of both have one and the same source. Claims on our attention have likewise the Mysteries, viz., those of Isis in Egypt and those of Ceres in Hellas. They coincide in point of time with the origin and spread of agriculture; but agriculture had, according to universal tradition, a post-Saturnian origin. It is a divine institution and became necessary, because in the post-Saturnian times, after the fall, the creative power of nature declined in intensity, and the gifts of earth were distributed with a less liberal hand,
In the same way do the mysteries, which hide under one image, life and death, the remembrance of the fall and the hope of the resurrection of all nature, and those sacred rites which point, on the one hand, to the loss of a beautiful sacred possession, on the other, to a future happy state of things, confirm the legend of a golden age, the consciousness of the heathen world that all nature had sustained a great loss. In the last place this legend cannot be the expression of a purely ethical or mythical view, because it is an idea common to all nations. But such a universal idea cannot be a mere idea, but must rest on an historical basis.
We cannot, of course, mention here every form under which this legend about paradise appears with the different nations of the earth, and shall, therefore, confine onrselves to some of the most important ones. Among the Persians we meet with the legend of the primitive water which gushes from the throne of Ormuzd; among the Hindoos with that of Mount Mern, the residence of the gods, from which four streams flow in every direction of the globe. The Chinese, Thibetan, Mongolian, Japanese, old Persian, and old Indian traditions all agree in this, that they point to some mountain
or other in Central Asia as the seat of the original glory of the god-descended human family.
In every one of these traditions we meet with four rivers or streams. Of the tree of life we are reminded by the sacred tree of the Hindoos, by the tree of life on the Assyrian monuments, especially by the Thibetan tree of life, which imparted to the first men a divine splendor. The mythos also of the four ages of the world is a tradition common to the eastern and western nations. All these traditions bear an uncommonly strong resemblance to the Bible history, especially among those nations which dwelt next to the cradle of humanity.
In the mythology of the ancient Germans we meet with the same phenomenon. In the Völuspá, the prophetess Wala gives a charming description of the golden age, before the three virgins from Jötunheim, the Nôtt, the Angobodi, and the Hel, came into the world of the Asen. Baldr—the good, holy, and wise, the favorite of gods and men—is treacherously killed by the wicked Loki. At this murder the gods grieve, and men, animals, plants, and stones weep. From that time matters grew worse and worse upon the earth, murders grew inore frequent, in the combats of the giants (the personified powers of ungodly nature) with the gods, Odin aud the Asen perished, and after the destruction of the world, the golden age reappeared. The main feature of all these legends is, that the primitive condition of men as well as that of the world, was physically a happy one. Peace and prosperity rest for the sake of man upon every other creature, and they both disappear and evil and destruction seize upon every thing living, as soon as spiritual ruin breaks in after the fall of man. The heathen world has most carefully preserved the remembrance of the earthly and bodily side of the narrative and of the original happy state of nature, adorning it with many fanciful traits, and while we have thus in its legends the strongest evidence of the historical basis on which they rested, we see also the wide discrepancy between these traditions and the Bible, which speaks, indeed, also of the original happiness of men and all other creatures, while it lays the main stress on man's normal relation to his Creator
and the inward happiness and peace as flowing from this relation.
The question : "whence are all these traditions ?” admits a ready answer from our stand-point. They are no idle tales, called forth by the feeling of present sufferings and miseries, nor the remembrance of a primitive rude state of nature,- for subsequent life was inferior to the primitive state,-nor are they prophetic anticipations of the future glory, but they are remembrances, which all the nations took from their common home, and which they no more could forget, than the prodigal son was able to forget the abundance in his father's house.
As the heathens had a distinct remembrance of a primitive peaceful state of nature, so they had also a keen sense of the fall and groans of the natural world. Of this kind was their intuitive perception of nature's dependence on man, and of the mysterious sympathy between the two. Firmicus Mat., Mathes., III., 1, contains the significant passage: “If man as the last and most finished of all creatures unites in himself all preceding creatures, and is in reality an image of the world, a microcosm, an inference not only from the world as to the nature of
but also from the nature of man to that of the world is perfectly legitimate, so that from the life of man, the course of nature can be known.” In Prometheus vinctus (v. 431), this sympathy between man and nature is expressed in these beautiful words:
“The sea roaring moans in its waves,
Springs of all the sacred rivers.” This passage appears still more significant if we assume, with many learned philologists, that Prometheus here represents the progenitor of the human family suffering for a heinous crime committed against his Creator. Again, Æschylus sees in the Eumenides (164–167), not only the central point of the earth, but the earth itself stained by the matricide of Orestes, just as the Bible does by the fratricide of Cain (Gen. iv. 11). In the next place, the ancient legends of the Grecian fleet having been detained in Aulis by adverse winds on
account of the crime of Agamemnon, and of Thebes having been visited with pestilence on account of the incestuous marriage of Edipus, are, indeed, nothing but legends, but they prove, at the same time, like the divination which pretended to learn the will of the gods from symbols and prodigies, etc., the deeply rooted conviction of the ancient world, that all living creatures sustain a close relation to each other, that there is a close connection between nature and the condition of men, a strong sympathy between earth and heaven. There can, therefore, be no doubt that the heathen world felt the fall of nature deeply. The great serpent of northern mythology is a mythical image of the universal pain of nature and all her creatures, and Ahriman has poisoned with his dews all nature, plants, animals, and men. The phenomenal world does not correspond with Plato's ideal world, hence the philosopher's search for the lost original ideas. Although the popular belief of the heathens looked, on the whole, on the world as divine and eternal, yet their philosophy recognized the existence of evil in nature and traces its origin not to the gods but to matter (Timous of Plato, βουληθείς γαρ ο θεός αγαθά μεν πάντα, φλαυρον δε μηδεν είναι κατά δύναμιν)-hence their many attempts at a theodicy. The poets are unanimous in their teaching, that with the appearance of sin on the earth, barrenness became the lot of the latter; see Hes., "Epya, V., 117–118: “Myriad other evils roamed forth among men. For full indeed is earth of woes, and full the sea." Ovid, Metam., I., 113; Virg., Georg., I., 125; Eclog., IV., 39. The ancients spoke of the earth as getting old and weak, of a marasmus of time, yea, even of mournful sonnds produced by nature. From all this it is manifest that they had an idea of this great fact, but it was blunted by the constantly advancing deification of nature, and they lacked the knowledge that man's sin presses upon nature. Nor must we omit to mention here that melancholy feeling which pervades all classical antiquity, all legends, all tragedies, and is spread even over their productions of art. Later, Judaism shared the same views. Thus we read in Bereschith rabba : “Rabbi Berachya has said in the name of Rabbi Samuel, although all things were created perfect, yet they were ruined