صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

Medonsa the Gorgó. difficult to gather that Gorgô=Luna. But the detail of a myth is the true test by which to try various etymologies of the name of its protagonist, especially when in the abstract several distinct derivations appear to have an almost equal claim to acceptance. Nowthe Gorgon-power (as will more fully appear)=Noc-, turnal-darkness + Moon, not darkness merely or the moon merely. Darkness, it will be remembered, is frequently (like Chaos) depicted in monstrous form ; but especially is it a Devourer or Swallower. The Proto-Aryan root gar, 'to swallow, gulp,' appears in the intensive form gargar, the Gk. variant of which would be Gorgô, the earliest form of the word in that language. Gorgô is “the Swallower,' the devouring darkness which has a bright head—the Moon, a head capable of being cut off. IIence the combined beauty and horror (hideousness) of the Gorgô, a hideousness which does not arise in the first instance from the lunar-serpent-rays, and hence the open mouth, so marked a feature in the Gorgoneion and one not in the least lunar. Mr. Dennis observes ;

The most remarkable type on the coins of Populonia is the Gorgoneion; not here “the head of the fair-cheeked Medusa" 3_

“A woman's countenance with serpent locks," as it is represented by the sculptors of later Greece

1 Vide my remarks on the unique Etruscan demon Tuchulcha (R.M. A. Appendix D) whose enormous open beak = the jaws of vacant darkness' (Tennyson, In Memoriam, xxxiv.).

? Fick, Wörterbuch, i. 70; vide R. B. Jr., R. M. A. sec. xix. The Law of Reduplication.

3 Pindar, Pyth. xii. 28,

IN

and of Etruria ; but a monstrous fiend-like visage, with snaky hair, gnashing tusks, and tongue lolling out of

The open mouth that seemed to containe

A good full peck within the utmost brim,
Appearing like the mouth of Orcus griesly grim."'1

ar

From this open mouth issue two huge curved teeth, the lunar horns. The protruded tongue and gnashing teeth were familiar to the author (probably Hesiod 2) of the Aspis Herakleous. And this leads us to the Hesiodik phase of the myth, according to which 4 there are three Gorgones (=Hekatê Triformis), Medousa the Ruler' (=the King or Queen-moon), Stheinô or Sthenô “the Strong' (=the general Nocturnalpotency), and Euryalê “the Wide wandering' (=the Moonwandering companionless ’5), a phase which corresponds with the solar Bellerophôn in the same Aleian Field. Do not hastily charge the intricate myth with inconsistency. The Night is dark and notdark, lunar and not-lunar; and so is the Gorgô; so are the Gorgones. And that the Gorgô is one as well as three, is shown clearly by a writer as late as

i C. C. E. ii. 221. The Manducus, a symbolic effigy with gaping jaws, was borne aloft in Roman games and processions to represent the underworld' (Rev. Is. Taylor, Etruscan Rescarches, i. 121).

2 Vide Mahaffy, Hist. of Clas. Gk. Lit. 1880, i. 112–3.
s nixuaçov dapa tóye pével do zápaooov odóvras (v. 235).
4 Theog. 278.

5 The true poet, whether a modern-ancient,' as Shakspere, Shelley, or Wordsworth; or an ancient-modern, like many a Kamic, Babylonian or Vedic bard of unknown name, takes essentially the same stand-point.

6 Alê is a homeless, endless roaming, the ceaseless journey of the heavenly bodies in the field of space.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Oncer

Euripides. The home of the Gorgones lies as of course in or beyond the western darkness ; 2 with the Euemerism which first connected them with Libye 3 as a western region, and has subsequently identified them with apes of some kind, gorilla or ourang-oötan, I am not here concerned. An early Vase shows the solar Herakles, who for the purpose is the equivalent of the solar Perseus, ' killing the threefold Gorgon.''

As Hekatê is Perseis or Perseia 5 and daughter of Perses, so Hekatos is Perseus, 'the solar hero, son of Zeus (heaven), in the form of a gleaming golden shower, and his son Perses is the mythic sire of the Persians, the lords of the “sun-stricken plains "6 of the East.'? Perseus naturally engages to attack the Gorgô, as the Lion the Unicorn; and assisted by

1 lầm, 989.

Γοργούς θ', αι ναίoυσι πέρην κλυτου Ωκεανοίο,

#oxaTui Tpos PUKros (Theog. 2745). Vide my remarks on the Assyrian eribu, 'to descend' as the sun, ereb, the west,' arab, erebos, originally the gloom after sunset, Europe, the western or sunset side of the world (R. Z. 17, note 2).

3 Herod. ii. 91 ; Diod. iii. 69; Paus. II. xxi. 6. According to an account given by Pausanias, Aledousa, queen of the inhabitants near the Tritonian Lake, when opposing the Peloponnesian army of Perseus, was slain in the night by stratagem. Perseus admiring her beauty, cut off her head to show it to the Greeks. Pausanias himself, however, preser3 the account given by Proklos a Karthaginian, that Medousa was one of the wild men and women of Africa who, wandering northwards and assailing the inhabitants, was slain by Perseus, who is said to have been assisted by Athena because the goddess is worshipped near the Tritonian Lake. (For a notice of Athene Tritogenaia, and the family of the Vedic Trita, vide R. B. Jr., Poseidon, sec. xx.) Medousa having thus become a wild woman, it is only another step to turn her into a gorilla, and this bas been taken by the learned Dr. Levezon. of Berlin. 4 Birch, Ancient Pottery, 103.

5 Orphik Hymn, i. 4. 6 Euripides, Bakchai, 14.

? G. D. M. i. 279.

Athenê (the Dawn-light) and Hermes (the Windpower upon the clouds ?), sets forth upon the perilous expedition. The helmet of Hades (the Unseen') renders him invisible, i.e. the condition of the Nocturnal-sun as concealed in the Underworld; and from the two Graiai? he seizes the solar eye 8 and lunar tooth, 4 which he will not restore until they tell him where to find the implements necessary to complete his task. This eye and tooth the sisters are wont to hand from one to the other, i.e. from morn to eve, from eve to morn. The hero having obtained the other requisites, · Hermes added the knife (harpê) with which he had cut off the head of Argos ;'5 and this same potency which put out the starry eyes, now puts out the lunar eye, or, to change the imagery, cuts off the bright head of the dark Gorgô; but the light veiled for a moment, soon reappears on the aigis of the

i Vide Ruskin, Q. A. i. secs. XXV.-xxix.

2 • The well-clad Pephrêdô,' the evening-power, and • Enyô clad-insaffron-mantle,' the warlike (cf. Enyalios) dawn or morning-power, Krokopeplos like Eôs. The Graiai, the “Gray,' Dawn and Gray Twilight,' with fair faces, but hair gray from their birth'-how wonderfully the myth describes the fact-can originally have been but two.

8 This is an instance of the Principle of Reduplication in myths, for of course Perseus himself is the solar eye. Similarly Herakles with his arrows attacks Helios. These incidents are frequently the necessary results of anthropomorphism. As Mr. F. A. Paley remarks, “It is the unconscious blending of two modes of representation' (Origin of Solar Myths, in the Dublin Review, July, 1879, p. 109).

4 IIere the tooth is most undoubtedly the lunar crescent, a fact which is the absolute justification of my explanation of the teeth of the Gorgoneion, a view which might otherwise have appeared too fanciful or far-fetched.

5 Murray, Manual of Mythology, 248. For treatment of the famous myth of Hermes Argeiphontes, vide Ruskin, Q. A. i. 28; R. B. Jr., G. D. M. ii. 83; R. M. A. sec. iii.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Dawn-queen. The Sun has done the deed-techni. cally called the Gorgotomy-but he has to fly, pursued by Euryalê, the Reappearing-moon; and Stheinô, whom Sir G. W. Cox well describes as “the eternal abyss of darkness.'1 The petrifying stare of Medousa is the moon-glare on the darkness when the colour, sound, and motion of the world of day have gone.

This myth alone might well form the subject of a monograph, but I can here only notice one other of its many incidents—the weapon of Perseus, the harpe, in shape a sickle or scimetar. Now the tradition that this was the special weapon used on the occasion, is a very ancient one, for Pherekydes, B.C. 540, who

according to the concurrent testimony of antiquity was the teacher of Pythagoras,' and • did not receive instruction from any master but obtained his knowledge from the secret books of the Phoenicians,' ? expressly names it as used by Perseus in the Gorgotomy. It is the same portentous sickle' (med plov åpnn) which Kronos took in his right hand when he assailed Ouranos, 4 for one of his peculiar adjuncts is the crescent-shaped sickle, which he somewhat singularly holds over his head in a scene where he is

1 M. A. N. ii. 350. Dr. Tylor (P. C. i. 318) appears to regard the Gorgons as in some way representing period, and remarks, The deathless past and future cannot save the ever-dying present.' The real basis of the myth, however, is purely physical.

Smith, Dict. of Gk, and Rom. Biog. and Mythol. In voc. Vide in illustration of this statement, Lenormant, Les Origines, Appendice III. Fragments de la Cosmogonie de Phórécyde.

3 'ANOTéuvel ápan kedalny (Frag. xxvi).

* Theog. 179. Cf. the Ilomerik use of the same term nélwp in this connexion, as above noticed (p. 47, note 1).

« السابقةمتابعة »