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I. GREECE.--Whether the learned and ingenious Bryant 1 be correct or not, in deriving the very name of EUROPE from אור־אב (AUR-AB), the solar serpent, it is certain that Ophiolatreia prevailed in this quarter of the globe at the earliest period of idolatry 2.
Of the countries of Europe, Greece was first colonized by Ophites, but at separate times, both from Egypt and Phœnicia; and it is a question of some doubt, though perhaps of little importance, whether the leader of the first colony, the celebrated Cadmus, was a Phœnician or an Egyptian. Bochart has shown that Cadmus
was the leader of the Canaanites who fled before the arms of the victorious Joshua; and Bryant has proved that he was an Egyptian, identical with THOTH. But as mere names of individuals are of no importance, when all agree that the same superstition existed contemporaneously in the two countries, and since Thoth is declared by Sanchoniathon to have been the father of the Phœnician as well as Egyptian Ophiolatreia; we may endeavour, without presumption, to reconcile the opinions of these learned authors, by assuming each to be right in his own line of argument; and by generalizing the name CADMUS, instead of appropriating it to individuals. By the word CADMUS, therefore, we may understand the leader of the CADMONITES, whether of Egypt or Phœnicia. There would, consequently, be as many persons of this name, as colonies of this denomination.
The first appearance of these idolaters in Europe is mythologically described under the fable of "Cadmus and Europa;" according to which, the former came in search of the latter, who was his sister, and had been carried off to Europe by Jupiter in the form of a bull.
If EUROPA be but a personification of the
[paragraph continues] SOLAR SERPENT-WORSHIP, and CADMUS a leader of serpent-worshippers, the whole fable is easily solved.
Europa was carried by Jupiter to Crete, where she afterwards married ASTERIUS: that is, the SOLAR SERPENT-WORSHIP was established in Crete, and afterwards united with the worship of the HEAVENLY HOST: Asterius being derived from ἀστὴρ, a star.
For the explanation of that portion of the fable which relates to the BULL, the reader is referred to Bryant, Anal. vol. ii. 455, who thinks that it bore an allusion to the god APIS of Egypt, by whose oracular advice the migration was undertaken. A similar worship, however, prevailed in Syria; for we find that the Phœnician Cadmus, (Cadmus the son of Phœnix), when he went in search of his sister, followed a cow. This latter colony is said to have settled in Eubœa; to which they gave the name of their tutelary deity, AUB; for Eubœa is, according to Bryant, AUB-AIA, "the land of AUB 1."
The history of Cadmus is full of fables about serpents. He slew a dragon, planted its teeth, and hence arose armed men, who destroyed
each other until five only remained. These assisted him in building the city of THEBES. One of these five builders of Thebes was named after the serpent-god of the Phœnicians, OPHION.
Cadmus, and his wife Harmonia, finished their travels at Encheliæ in Illyricum, where, instead of dying a natural death, they were changed into serpents. This conclusion of the story throws a light upon the whole. The leader of these Opiates after death was deified, and adored under the symbol of a serpent. He became, in fact, the SERPENT-GOD of the country, as Thoth had become the serpent-god of Egypt. Having been the author, he became the object of the idolatry.
Besides the Cadmian colony, which settled chiefly in Bœotia, a second irruption of Ophites is noticed in history, as coming from Egypt under the guidance of CECROPS. These took possession of Attica, and founded Athens, whose first name was, in consequence, CECROPIA. In this word, also, we trace the involution of the name OB, or OPS, the serpent-god of antiquity; and accordingly, Cecrops 1 himself is said to
have been of twofold form, human and serpentine 1. It was also said, that from a serpent he was changed into a man 2. We read too of DRACO (Δράκων, a dragon) being the first king of Athens. All these relate to the introduction of serpent-worship from Egypt into Attica, the leader of which colony, by a fabulous metonyme, was called a "dragon," or serpent. The first altar erected by Cecrops at Athens, was to OPS, the serpent-deity 3; a circumstance which confirms the inference deduced by Bryant; namely, that he introduced Ophiolatreia into Attica. Cecrops and Draco were probably the same person.
2. The symbolical worship of the serpent was so common in Greece, that Justin Martyr accuses the Greeks of introducing it into the mysteries of all their gods.
Παρὰ παντὶ τῶν νομιζομένων παῤ ὕμῖν θεῶν Ὄφις
σύμβολον μέγα καὶ μυστήριον ἀναγράφεται 1
[paragraph continues] This was especially true in regard to the mysteries of Bacchus. The people who assisted at them were crowned with serpents, and carried them in their hands, brandishing them over their heads, and shouting with great vehemence, ευια, ευια 2; "which being roughly aspirated," remarks Clemens Alexandrinus, "will denote the female serpent 3." A consecrated serpent was a sign of the Bacchic orgies 4; a very important part of which consisted in a procession of noble virgins, carrying in their hands golden baskets, which contained sesamum, small pyramids, wool, honey-cakes, (having raised lumps upon them like navels), grains of salt, and A SERPENT 5.
Three ingredients in these baskets are remarkable,
as connected with THE WORSHIP OF THE SOLAR SERPENT.
1. The pyramids, which were intended as representations of the sun's rays, and are sometimes seen in the hands of priests kneeling before the sacred serpent of Egypt 1. The supplicating minister of the god offers a pyramid in his left hand, while the right is field up in adoration. On his head is the deadly asp.
2. The honey-cakes marked with the sacred omphalos. These were also offerings made at the shrine of the sacred serpent; for we read in Herodotus, that in the Acropolis at Athens was kept a serpent who was considered the guardian of the city. He was fed on cakes of honey once a month 2. The serpent of Metele was presented with the same food or offering 3.
Medicated cakes, in which honey was a chief ingredient, were at once the food and the offering to the dragon of the Hesperides--
Hesperidum templi custos, epulasque draconi p. 190
Quæ dabat, et sacros servabat in arbore ramos,
Spargens humida mella, soporiferumque papaver.
Virgil, i n. iv. 483.
A similar offering was made to Cerberus, by the prophetess who conducted Æneas
Cui vates horrere videns jam colla colubris
Melle soporatam et medicatis frugibus offam
Æn. vi. 419.
[paragraph continues] Honey cakes were also carried by the initiated into the cave of Trophonius to appease the guardian serpents 1. So that this offering was universally peculiar to Ophiolatreia.
The honey-cake, however, when properly pre-pared, was marked with the sacred Omphalos--a remarkable peculiarity on which it may be proper to make a few observations.
The superstition of the OMPHALOS was extensively prevalent. It entered into the religions of India and Greece, and is one of the most figurative and obscure parts of mythology. The omphalos is a boss, upon which is described a spiral line; but whether or not this spiral line may have been originally designed to represent
a coiled serpent, I will not pretend to determine; though such a meaning has been affixed to it by an ingenious writer 1 upon the antiquities of New Grange in Ireland. In describing similar lines upon some rude stones discovered at this place, he tells us, "they appear to be the representations of serpents coiled up, and probably were symbols of the Divine being." "Quintus Curtius confirms this hypothesis, when he says, that the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Africa had a rude stone, whereon was drawn a spiral line, the symbol of the deity."
Whatever may have been the meaning of this spiral line, which Quintus Curtius calls a navel, one thing is evident, that the omphalos, umbilicus, or navel, was sacred to the serpent-god: for it not only occurs in the mystic baskets of the Bacchic orgies, but was also kept at DELPHI 2, "because," says Pausanias, "this was the middle of the earth." The absurdity of this notion at once refers us to some better reason; but absurd as it is, the same idea seems to have
prevailed generally; for we read of an omphalos of the Peloponnesus at Phlius, in Achaia: "if it be as they say," adds the incredulous topographer 1.
Near the latter omphalos was a temple of BACCHUS, another of APOLLO, and another of ISIS, to each of which deities the serpent was sacred. The sacred omphalos, therefore, would seem to bear very much upon the adoration of the serpent; and it is a question whether or not it was originally intended to represent a coiled serpent as symbolical of divinity.
The esoteric tradition of the omphalos, according to Diodorus 2, is, that when the infant Jupiter was nursed by the Curetes, his navel fell at the river Triton in Crete; whence that territory was called Omphalos. But this legend is evidently invented from the ambiguity of the word. Bryant derives omphalos from OMPHIEL, "the oracle of the sun 3." Such an oracle would not be unaptly represented by a coiled serpent, a serpent being the most popular emblem of the sun, and also of an oracle.
3. The third feature, and the most remarkable
of all, in the Bacchic orgies, was the mystic SERPENT. This was, undoubtedly, the σύμβολον μέγα καὶ μυστήριον of the festival. The MYSTERY of religion was, throughout the world, concealed in a chest or box. As the Israelites had their sacred ark, every nation upon earth had some holy receptacle for sacred things and symbols. The story of Ericthonius is illustrative of this remark. He was the fourth king of Athens, and his body terminated in the tails of serpents, instead of human legs. He was placed by Minerva in a basket, which she gave to the daughters of CECROPS, with strict injunctions not to open it. Here we have a fable made out of the simple fact of the mysterious basket, in which the sacred serpent was carried at the orgies of Bacchus. The whole legend relates to Ophiolatreia.
In accordance with the general practice, the worshippers of Bacchus carried in their consecrated baskets or chests, the MYSTERY of their God, together with the offerings.
Catullus, (Nuptiæ Pel. et Thetidis, 256,) in describing these Bacchanals, says:
Pars sese tortis serpentibus incingebant,
Pars obscura cavis celebrabant orgia cistis.
The contents of the basket were, therefore, the MYSTERY; and especially the serpent. Archbishop Potter says as much: "In these consisted the most mysterious part of the solemnity;" but he adds, inconsiderately, "and therefore to amuse the common people (!) serpents were put into them, which sometimes crawling out of their places, astonished the beholders 1." Whatever might have been the astonishment of the beholders, that of the priests would not have been little, to have been told that their sacred serpent, the of σύμβολον μέγα καὶ μυστήριον, was nothing more than a device to amuse the common people.
It is observable that the Christian Ophites, who were of the school of the Egyptian gnostics, kept their sacred serpent in a chest; and the orgies of Bacchus were derived from the same source of Egyptian gnosticism--the mysteries of Isis.
So great was the veneration of the Cretans for their Bacchic baskets, that they frequently stamped the figures of them upon their coins. Nor were these baskets confined to the orgies of Bacchus. They were employed also in the mysteries of Ceres, Isis, and Osiris 2.
Another custom of the Bacchantes is remarkable for its connexion with Ophiolatreia. After the banquet, they were accustomed to carry round a cup, which they called "the cup of the good dæmon." "Ingenti clamore BONUM DEUM invocant venerantes Bacchum, cujus quoque in memoriam POCULUM, sublatis mensis, circumferunt, quod poculum BONI DÆMONIS appellant 1."
The symbol of the "good dæmon" was a serpent, as may be proved from a medal of the town of Dionysopolis, in Thrace. On one side of the coin were the heads of Gordian and Serapis, on the other a coiled serpent 2. Dionysopolis was named from Dionusus, a name which was borne by the Indian Bacchus, who in his own country was called Deonaush.
In the collection of the Earl of Besborough, was a beautiful antique drinking cup cut out of a solid piece of rock crystal, on the lid of which are two serpents, and upon the cup near the rim, the Ophite hierogram in the form of a Medusa's head. Mr. Pownall, in the seventh volume of the Archæologia, proves that this cup was consecrated to religious uses; and supposes
that it might have been employed in drinking to the Tria Numina, after a feast. One of the "Tria Numina" was called AGATHODÆMON. I conjecture therefore, that this was the "poculum Boni Dæmonis," used in the Bacchanalian mysteries.
The following lines from Martial, prove that the impress of a serpent upon a cup, was a sign of consecration:
Cælatus tibi cum sit Ammiane
Serpens in paterâ Myronis arte,
Lib. vi. Epig. 92.
The serpent entered into the symbolical worship of many others of the Grecian deities.
Minerva was sometimes represented with a dragon; her statues by Phidias were decorated with this emblem 1. In plate, p. 85, vol. i. of Montfaucon, are several medals of Minerva; in one of them she holds a caduceus in the right hand; in another, a staff, round which a serpent is twisted; in a third, a large serpent appears marching before her. Other medals represent her crest as composed of a serpent. So that this was a notorious emblem of the
goddess of WISDOM: so applied, perhaps, from a legendary memorial of "the subtilty" which the serpent displayed in Paradise; whereas, his attribution to the god of DRUNKENNESS may be accounted for from a traditionary recollection of the prostration of mind sustained by our first parents, through communion with the serpent tempter.
The city of Athens was peculiarly consecrated to the goddess Minerva; and in the Acropolis was kept a live serpent, who was generally considered as the guardian of the place. The emperor Hadrian built a temple at Athens to Jupiter Olympius, and "placed in it a dragon which he caused to be brought from India 1." Upon the walls of Athens was sculptured a Medusa's head, whose hair was intertwined with snakes. In the temple of Minerva, at Tegea, there was a similar sculpture, which was said to have been given by the goddess herself, to preserve that city from being taken in war 2. The virtue supposed to reside in this head was of a talismanic power, to preserve or destroy.
The same author 1 who records the preceding fact, tells us of a priestess, who, going into a sanctuary of Minerva in the dead of the night, saw a vision of that goddess, who held up her mantle, upon which was impressed a Medusa's head. The sight of this fearful talisman instantaneously converted the intruder into stone. The same Gorgon or Medusa's head, was on the aegis and breastplate of the goddess 2, to induce a terrific aspect in the field of battle. The terror resided in the snakes; for the face of Medusa was "mild and beautiful 3." From some such notion of a talismanic power, perhaps, the Argives, Athenians, and Ionians, after the taking of Tanagra from the Lacedæmonians, erected a statue of victory in the grove of Jupiter Olympius, on whose shield was engraved a Medusa's head 4. The same symbolical figure may be frequently seen on sepulchral urns. This general impression of a powerful charm inherent in the Gorgon, must be attributed to some forgotten tradition respecting the serpents in the hair; for all agree that the face of Medusa was far from
being terrific. Some engravings of this head, preserved in Montfaucon, explain the mystery. From these we may infer, that this celebrated talisman was no other than the still more celebrated emblem of consecration, the CIRCLE, WINGS, and SERPENT; whose history, use, and probable origin we considered in the first chapter of this treatise. In the plate in Montfaucon, above referred to 1, are representations of Medusa's head, from either side of whose forehead proceeds a WING; and TWO SERPENTS, intersecting one another below the chin in a nodes Herculis, appear over the forehead, looking at each other.
Take away the human face in the centre, with its remaining snaky locks, and you have the Egyptian emblem of consecration, THE SERPENTS AND WINGED CIRCLE; the circle being formed by the bodies of the snakes. The Gorgon is, therefore, nothing more than THE CADUCEUS without its staff.
The intimate connexion of this emblem with the serpent-worship, we have already observed: and it is worthy of remark, that the Argives,
[paragraph continues] Athenians, and Ionians, who erected the statue of victory at Tanagra with a Gorgon-shield, were descendants of serpent worshippers.
This celebrated hierogram of the Ophites was painted on the shield of Perseus, an Argive, who was distinguished by the device of "Medusa's head." And Hippomedon, an Argive also, one of the seven chiefs before Thebes 1, bore the same hierogram, if 1 rightly understand these lines of Æschylus:--
Ὄφεων δὲ πλεκτάναισὶ περίδρομον κύτος
Προσηδάφισται κοιλογάστορος κύκλου.
Ἑπρὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας. 501, 502.
[paragraph continues] The poet is describing the devices upon the shields of the besiegers, and the above are the "armorial bearings" of Hippomedon. "The hollow circumference of the concave shield was carried towards the ground (προσηδάφισται) in the folds of serpents." By which I understand the poet to mean, that the centre of the shield was a little raised, and a circular cavity ran round between it and the rim of the shield. In this cavity
[paragraph continues] (towards the lower part of it) were folded serpents--which would accurately describe the ophite hierogram 1; the raised part of the shield representing the mystic circle or globe--for we must observe, that the shield was "hollow-bellied;" i.e. concave to the bearer; and, consequently, convex to the enemy.
The people of Argos had a tradition which indicates their ophite origin also. The city was said to have "been infested with serpents, until Apis came from Egypt and settled in it. To him they attribute the blessing of having their country freed from this evil; but the brood came from the very quarter from whence Apis was supposed to have come. They were certainly Hivites from Egypt 2."
The breastplate and baldrick of Agamemnon, king of Argos, exhibited the device of a triple-headed serpent 3. His brother Menelaus, king of Sparta, was similarly distinguished by a serpent upon his shield. The Spartans, as well as the Athenians, believed in their serpentine origin, and called themselves ophiogenæ.
In Argolis, moreover, was the town of Epidaurus, famous for the temple of Æsculapius, where that god was worshipped under the symbol of a serpent. We read in Pausanias 1 that live serpents were kept here, and fed regularly by servants, who laid their food upon the floor, but dared not approach the sacred reptiles. This must have been only through religious awe; for the serpents of Epidaurus were said to be harmless 2. The statue of Æsculapius at this temple, represented him leaning upon a staff, and resting one hand upon the head of a serpent 3. His sister, the goddess Hygeia, was represented with a large serpent twisted about her, and drinking out of a chalice in her hand. Sometimes it was coiled up in her lap; at others, held in the hand 4.
The serpent was sacred to Æsculapius and Hygeia, as a symbol of health; but how he came to be a symbol of health is not very satisfactorily explained. It is said by Pliny, that the flesh of this creature is sometimes used in medicine, and that this was the reason of his consecration to "health." Others again inform us, that the
serpent changes his skin periodically, and thus becomes an emblem of renewed vigour in a sick man. These, however, can only be considered as the surmises of a warm imagination 1. The use of animals of the reptile kind in medicine was not confined to the serpent; or, if it were, from whence could the idea itself originate, that the serpent's flesh was sanatory? The changing of his skin being periodical, can scarcely denote recovered health, which is seldom renewed at given intervals. In the absence of every other probable reason, we may refer this notion to the effect produced upon Adam and Eve, when, at the instigation of THE SERPENT, they "took and ate," and "their eyes were opened." Another derivation has indeed been assigned, which has much plausibility attached to it; but chronology confutes the opinion. Many authors have believed that the erection of the brazen serpent in the wilderness by Moses, might have given cause for the attribution of the serpent to the
god of health; especially as he is represented very often, under this character, encircling a stick or pole in the hand of Æsculapius. I acknowledge the affinity of the ideas; but being persuaded that the Æsculapian worship was of Egyptian origin, and having already shown from Wisdom, ch. xi. ver. 15, that the worship of the serpent prevailed in Egypt before the Exodus of the Israelites, I cannot believe that an Egyptian superstition owes its beginning to any incident in Israelitish history.
A tradition is recorded by Pausanias 1 of one Nicagora, the wife of Echetimus, who conveyed the god Æsculapius to Sicyon under the form of a serpent. The Sicyonians erected statues to him; one of which represented a woman sitting upon a serpent. An anecdote of the deportation of Æsculapius to Rome, similar to the preceding, is related by Livy, Ovid, Floras, Valerius Maximus, and Aurelius Victor. From whom it appears, that a pestilence having arisen in Rome, the oracle of Delphi advised an embassy to Epidaurus, to fetch the god Æsculapius; Quintus Ogulnius
and ten others were accordingly sent with the humble supplications of the senate and people of Rome. While they were gazing in admiration at the superb statue of the god, a serpent, "venerable, not horrible," which rarely appeared but when he intended to confer some extraordinary benefit, glided from his lurking place; and having passed through the city, went directly to the Roman vessel, and coiled himself up in the berth of Ogulnius. The ambassadors, "carrying the god," set sail; and being off Antium, the serpent leaped into the sea, and swam to the nearest temple of Apollo, and after a few days returned. But when they entered the Tiber, he leaped upon an island, and disappeared. Here the Romans erected a temple to him in the shape of a ship; and the plague was stayed "with wonderful celerity."
Ovid, (Met. 15, 665,) gives an animated description of this embassy, which is well worthy of attention, as illustrative of the deification of the serpent.
Postera sidereos aurora fugaverat ignes;
Incerti quid agant proceres, ad templa petiti
Conveniunt operosa Dei: quaque ipse morari
Sede velit, signis cœlestibus indicet, orant. p. 206
Vix bene desierant cùm cristis aureus altis
In SERPENTE DEUS prænuntia sibila misit:
Adventuque suo signumque arasque foresque
Marmoreumque solum, fastigiaque aurea movit:
Pectoribusque tenus mediâ sublimis in æde
Constitit; atque oculos circumtulit igne micantes.
Territa turba pavet, cognovit NUMINA custos,
Evinctus vittâ trines albente sacerdos.
Et "DEUS en! DEUS en! linguisque animisque favete
Quisquis ades," dixit. "Sis, O pulcherrime, visus
Utiliter: populosque juves TUA SACRA colentes."
The god having passed through the temple and city, arrives at the port:
Restitit hic; agmenque suum, turbæque sequentis
Officium placido visus dimittere vultu,
Corpus in Ausoniâ posuit rate.
When the vessel entered the Tiber, the whole city of Rome was poured out to meet the god:
Obvia turba ruit -------------
------------ lætoque clamore salutant.
Quaque per adversas navis cita ducitur undas,
Thura super ripas, arisque ex ordine factis,
Parte ab utraque sonant: et adorant aëra fumis,
Ictaque conjectos incalfacit hostia cultros.
These spirited lines alone, without any other
support from history, would prove the extent to which the worship of the serpent was carried by the ancients.
The incarnation of deity in a serpent was not an uncommon event in Grecian mythology. We read of Olympias, Nicotelea, and Aristodamia, mothers, of Alexander, Aristomenes, and Aratus, respectively, by some god who had changed himself into the form of a serpent 1. The conversion of Jupiter and Rhea into snakes, gave occasion to a fable respecting the origin of the Caduceus; which is so far pertinent to our theory, that it implies the divine character of those sacred serpents, which formed in that talisman the circle and crescent.
Jupiter again metamorphosed himself into a dragon, to deceive Proserpine. These, and all other similar fables in mythology, are founded upon the deception of Eve by a SPIRITUAL BEING, who assumed the form of a serpent.
Dragons were sacred to the goddess Ceres; her car was drawn by them.
They were symbolical also of the Ephesian Diana, and of Cybele, the mother of the gods,
as we may see in the engravings of Montfaucon 1.
Of all the places in Greece, Bœotia seems to have been the most favourite residence of the Ophites. The Thebans boasted themselves to be the descendants of the warriors who sprung from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus. "The history of this country," says Bryant, "had continual reference to serpents and dragons; they seem to have been the national insigne at least of Thebes. Hence we find upon the tomb of Epaminondas, the figure of a serpent, to signify that he was an Ophite or Theban 2." In like manner the Theban Hercules bore upon his shield the sacred hierogram by which the warriors of the Cadmian family were distinguished--"As he went, his adamantine shield sounded . . . . . . . . in a CIRCLE TWO DRAGONS were suspended, lifting up their heads 3."
At Thespiæ, in Bœotia, they worshipped Jupiter Saotas; the origin of whose worship is thus related: When A DRAGON had once laid waste the town, Jupiter directed that
every year a young man, chosen by lot, should be offered to THE SERPENT. The lot fell at length on Cleostrus, when his friend, Menestratus, having made a brazen breastplate and studded it with hooks, put it on, and presented himself to the dragon. Thus they both perished together. From that time the Thespians erected an altar to Jupiter Saotas 1."
But the most celebrated seat of Ophiolatreia in Greece was at DELPHI. The original name of this place, according to Strabo, was PYTHO; supposed to be so called from the serpent PYTHON, slain there by Apollo. The connexion of such a legend with the place, and the derivation of its original name from the serpent Python, which is thought to be the PETHEN of the Hebrews, might well induce the learned Heinsius to conclude that "the god Apollo was first worshipped at Delphi, under the symbol of a serpent." Hyginus 2 says, that the dragon Python formerly gave oracles in Mount Parnassus--"PYTHON, Terræ filius, draco ingens. Hic ante Apollinem ex oraculo in motile Parnasso responsa dare solitus erat." The same says
[paragraph continues] Ælian 1; and Plutarch 2 affirms, that the contest between Apollo and Python was respecting the oracle. Python was, therefore, in reality, the deity of the place 3."
The public assemblies at Delphi were called Pythia. These were doubtless, originally intended for the adoration of Python 4. Seven days after the victory of Apollo over Python, the Pythian games were instituted, on the seventh day of which, an hymn called Paean was sung to Apollo in honour of his victory 5. Hence the expression of Hesiod--ἕβδομον ἱερὸν ἦμαρ--which so singularly corresponds with our Sabbath.
When the priestess of Apollo delivered her oracles, she stood, or sat, upon a tripod. This was a name commonly given to any sort of vessel, seat, or table, supported upon three feet. The tripod of the Pythian priestess was distinguished by a base emblematical of her god. It was a triple-headed serpent of brass, whose body,
folded in circles growing wider and wider towards the ground, formed a conical column. The cone, it should be remembered was sacred to the solar deity. The three heads were disposed triangularly, in order to sustain the three feet of the tripod, which was of gold. Herodotus 1 tells us, that it was consecrated to Apollo by the Greeks, out of the spoils of the Persians after the battle of Plata a. He describes it accurately. Pausanias 2, who mentions it also, omits the fact of the three heads. He records a tradition of a more ancient tripod, which was carried off by the Tyrinthian Hercules, but restored by the son of Amphitryon. An engraving of the serpentine column of the Delphic tripod may be seen in Montfaucon, vol. ii. p. 86. The golden portion of this tripod was carried away by the Phocians when they pillaged the temple of Delphi; an outrage which involved them in the sacred war which terminated in their ruin. The Thebans, who were the foremost among the avengers of Delphi, were the most notorious Ophites of antiquity.
Athena us calls this tripod, "the tripod of
truth 1,"--a most singular perversion of the fact upon which the oracle was founded--the conversation of the serpent in Paradise.
According to Gibbon, the serpentine column was transported from Delphi to Constantinople, by the founder of the latter city, and set up on a pillar in the Hippodrome 2. He cites Zosimus, who is also cited by Montfaucon on the same subject: but the latter thinks that Constantine only caused a similar column to be made, and did not remove the original from Delphi. It is most probable, however, that Gibbon is right 3.
This celebrated relic of Ophiolatreia is still to be seen in the same place, where it was set up by Constantine; but one of the serpents' heads is mutilated. This was done by Mahomet the second, the Turkish conqueror of Constantinople, when he entered the city. The story is thus related by Leunclavius:--"When Mahomet came to the Atmeidan, he saw there a stone column, on which was placed a three-headed brazen serpent. Looking on it, he asked, 'What idol is that?' and at the same time, hurling his
iron mace with great force, knocked off the lower jaw of one of the three serpents' heads. Upon which, immediately, a great number of serpents began to be seen in the city. Whereupon some advised him to leave that serpent alone from henceforth; since through that image it happened that there were no serpents in the city. Wherefore that column remains to this day. And although, in consequence of the lower jaw of the brazen serpent being struck of', some serpents do come into the city, YET they do no harm to any one 1."
This traditionary legend, preserved by Leunclavius, marks the strong hold which Ophiolatreia must have taken upon the minds of the people of Constantinople, so as to cause this story to be handed down to so late an æra as the seventeenth century. Among the Greeks who resorted to Constantinople were many idolaters of the old religion, who would wilfully transmit any legend favourable to their own superstition. Hence, probably, the charm mentioned above, was attached by them to the Delphic serpent on the column in the Hippodrome; and revived (after the partial mutilation of the figure) by their descendants, the common
people, who are always the last in, every country to forget or forego an ancient superstition. Among the common people of Constantinople, there were always many more pagans than Christians at heart. With the Christian religion, therefore, which they professed, would be mingled many of the pagan traditions which were attached to the monuments of antiquity that adorned Byzantium, or were imported into Constantinople.
There is another kind of serpentine tripod, which is supposed to have belonged to Delphi, usually represented on medals. This is a vase supported on three brazen legs, round one of which is twined a serpent 1.
Lucian 2 says, that "the dragon under the tripod spoke 3." This was, very probably, the
popular belief, founded originally upon the historical fact to which I have so often alluded--the speaking of the serpent in Paradise with a human voice; and the delusion was probably kept up by the ventriloquism of the Pythian priestess, as she sat upon the tripod, over the serpent.
That THE SERPENT was the original god of Delphi, may be further argued from the circumstance that live serpents were kept in the adytum of the temple 1. A story is related by Diogenes Laertius, lib. v. c. 91, of a Pythian priestess, who was accidentally killed by treading upon one of these reptiles, which immediately stung her.
At DELOS, the next place in rank after Del-phi for an oracle of Apollo, there was an image erected to him "in the shape of a dragon 2." Here there was likewise an oracular fountain, called Inopus. "This word," remarks Bryant 3, is compounded of Ain-opus.; i.e. Fons Pythonis:" dedicated to the serpent-god Oph. Fountains sacred to this deity were not uncommon.
[paragraph continues] Maundrel mentions a place in Palestine, called "the serpent's fountain;" and there was a celebrated stream at Colophon, in Ionia, which communicated prophetic inspiration to the priest of Apollo, who presided over it. Colophon, is col-oph-on; that is, "collis serpentis solis 1."
In Pausanias (lib. ix. 557) we read of a fountain near the river Ismenus at Thebes, which was placed under the guardianship of a dragon. Near this place was the spot where Cadmus slew the dragon, from whose teeth arose the Ophiogenes, the builders of Thebes. It is probable, therefore, that instead of being sacred to Mars, as Pausanias affirms, this fountain was sacred to the serpent-god, called Mars in this place, because of the conflict between the Ophiogenes. A conclusion the more probable from the fact, that the Ismenian hill was dedicated to Apollo. The whole territory was (we may say) the patrimony of Oph--all the local legends confirm it 2.
There were many other oracles of Apollo besides those of Delphi and Delos, but of inferior
celebrity and various rites. It is remarkable, however, that the names of several of these places involve the title AUB or AB, the designation of the serpent-god. But not desiring to lay too much stress upon etymology, I pass them by, as I have many other places involving a similar evidence. I cannot, however, neglect a famous oracle which was in connexion with Delphi, and bears many internal marks of Ophiolatreia. This was the celebrated CAVE OF TROPHONIUS, in Phocis.
That this was a dracontic oracle will, I think, appear from the following considerations. In the grove of Trophonius, near Lebadea in Phocis, was a cave, in which were two figures, male and female, holding in their hands secptres encircled by serpents. They were said to be the images of Æsculapius and Hygeia; but Pausanias 1 conjectures that they belonged rather to Trophonius the god of the place, and Hercyna, the female who discovered the cave; for he says, "the serpent was not more sacred to Æsculapius than to Trophonius." Trophonius was an oracular god, and his attributes and name indicate the solar serpent OPH. TROPHON is,
most probably, TOR-OPH-ON, the temple of the solar serpent 1. The later Greeks, with their usual mythological confusion of places and persons, conjectured the name of the temple to be that of the god; and so converted "Tor-oph-on" into "Trophonius."
In corroboration of these remarks, we find that one of the builders of the temple of Apollo, at Delpi, was Trophonius.
Pausanias informs us, that whoever would inquire an oracle of Trophonius, must previously (in a small temple near his cave, dedicated to THE GOOD GENIUS) sacrifice to APOLLO, SATURN, JUPITER, JUNO, and CERES. Now it is remarkable that each of these deities had some connexion with the mythological serpent. APOLLO was pre-eminently the solar serpent-god; and is, therefore, first to be appeased. Apollo I take to be no other than OPEL, (Oph-el) PYTHO-SOL, whose name occurs so frequently in composition with the names of places as Torophel, Opheltin, &c. SATURN was married to OPS; under which disguise is concealed the deity OPH. JUPITER changed himself into a serpent twice, to deceive Rhea
and Proserpine. The serpent Python was an emissary of JUNO, to persecute Latona, the mother of Apollo; and the car of CERES was drawn by serpents. Serpents also entered into the Eleusinian mysteries as symbolical of that goddess. Thus the history of each of these deities was, more or less, connected with the mythological serpent--the very deity whom the frequenters of this oracle would be called upon to propitiate before they entered the cave, on the supposition that TROPHONIUS was the OPHITE GOD.
But this is not all. In the cave of Trophonius LIVE SERPENTS were kept; and those who entered it were obliged to appease them by CAKES--which we know were offered to the sacred serpent at Athens, and were carried in the mysterious baskets at the Bacchanalian orgies. They were, in fact, sacrifices or offerings to these serpents, as objects of WORSHIP.--Another proof that the serpents were the real gods of the place, is found in the saying, that "no one ever came out of the cave of Trophonius smiling"--and why? διὰ τὴν τῶν ὄφεων ἔκπληξιν--because of the STUPOR occasioned by the
serpents 1! The same expression is employed by Plutarch, in describing the effect produced by the Bacchanalian serpents upon the spectators of the mysteries--ἐξέπληττον τοὺς ἄνδρας 2:--which must mean that they inspired the beholders with religious awe; for it can scarcely mean "frightened," because he is speaking of the processions of Olympias, at Pella, where serpents were so familiar that they lived in the dwellings of the inhabitants, among their children 3, and therefore could, under no ordinary circumstances, become an object of terror. Hence it was, probably, a religious dread which seized the spectators, both at the orgies of Bacchus, and in the cave of Trophonius.
But we may approach even nearer to the deduction which I would draw; namely, that the serpents in the cave were the real gods of the place, by recollecting two fables which we have before considered: the stupefaction and ultimate death of the priest who intruded upon the privacy of the dragon of Metele; and the conversion
of the priestess of Minerva into stone, for her presumption in entering into the presence of that goddess uncalled. These fables would prove that an affection of the senses was believed to be the result always attending upon a sight of the local deity.
The serpents were therefore, probably, the original objects of divine worship in the cave of Trophonius.
The origin of the notion of an oracular God symbolized by a serpent, we have frequently referred to the ambiguously prophetic conversation of THE SERPENT with Eve in paradise. The consequent affection and depravation of her mind, and that of her husband, are not obscurely remembered in the ἔκπληξις is of the votaries of Trophonius.
4. The worship of the serpent prevailed equally in the Peloponnesus. Peloponnesus is said to have been so called from being the "island of the Pelopidæ," descendants of PELOPS. The emigration of this mythological hero from Phrygia, forms an interesting epoch in Grecian story, and relates to the passage of the SACRED SERPENT from Canaan, the land of his first resting-place
after the flood. PELOPS is P’-EL-OPS, the serpent-god 1.
We have already seen that the Argives and Spartans were Ophites, and that from the celebrated temple of Æsculapius, at Epidaurus, the sacred serpent was conveyed to Sicyon. In addition to these facts, we learn from Pausanias that Antinoe, the foundress of Mantinea, was guided to that place by a serpent, from whom the river, which was near the town, was called Ophis 2.
The first prophet of Messene was said to have been Ophioneus; from which we may infer, that the first colony which introduced religious rites into Messenia was Ophite. A similar colony was established at Epidaurus Limera, in Laconia, under the auspices of a sacred serpent brought from Epidaurus, in Argolis 3.
Statius 4 describes a serpent, the object of religious reverence at Nemæa:--
Interea campis nemoris sacer horror Achæi,
Terrigenæ erigitur serpens------
This is the serpent which slew the child Opheltes. Statius goes on to describe him:
Inachio sanctum dixere tonanti
Agricolæ, cui cura loci et sylvestribus aris
The "pauper honos" was occasioned by the drought then raging, when the scene described by the poet took place. It was in search of food that the serpent sallied from the sacred grove when he saw and slew the sleeping child.
Bryant 1 assures us that Opheltes, or rather Opheltin, is the name of a place, and not of any person: and that this place was nothing more nor less than an inclosure sacred to the god OPHEL, the serpent-solar deity. Hence the legend respecting the serpent.
It will be shown in a subsequent chapter, that such inclosures were frequently formed in the shape of a serpent. If such was the form of "Opheltin," the fable explains itself. It means nothing more than that human victims were immolated at this shrine of OPHEL.
5. The islands of the Ægean sea were entirely overrun by Ophites. They colonized Delos, Tenos, Cos, and Seriphus, in such numbers as to mark their abode by traditions. The oracle of Delos we have ascertained to have been Dracontian. Tenos was called Ophiusa 1, as also Cythnus. A coin of Cos presents the figure of a serpent, with the word ΣΩΤΗΡ inscribed. The same figure and inscription appear on the coins of Epidaurus 2: and we find that there was a temple of Æsculapius at Cos 3. Seriphus is, according to Bryant, Sar-Iph (petra Pythons,) "the serpent's rock." Here was a legend of Perseus bringing Medusa's head, and turning the inhabitants into stone 4. The island was called Saxum Seriphium by the Romans; and by Virgil, "serpentifera." Natural ruggedness is not peculiar to Seriphus; it seems to be characteristic of the greater number of the Grecian islands; and therefore, connecting the epithet "serpentifera" with the legend respecting Perseus, we may reasonably infer that a colony of Ophites were once settled in Seriphus, and had
a temple there of the dracontic kind, whose upright columns of stone may have given rise to the tradition that the inhabitants of the island were petrified by the talismanic serpents 1 of Perseus. Such a tradition was not unfrequently attached to these Ophite temples. Stonehenge was thus called "Chorea Gigantum;" and a Druids' circle in Cumberland, "Long Meg and her Daughters," from a belief that the giants and the fairies were respectively metamorphosed into stone, in the mazes of a dance.
Of all the islands in the neighbourhood of the' Peloponnesus, Crete was most celebrated for its primitive Ophiolatreia. Here the Egyptians first established those religious rites which were called by the Greeks the mysteries of Dionusus or Bacchus. The Cretan medals were usually impressed with the Bacchic basket, and the sacred serpent creeping in and out. Beger has written a treatise on these coins: the following is a description of three which he has engraved.
1. A Bacchic basket, with the sacred serpent. On the reverse, two serpents with their tails
intertwined, on each side of a quiver--for the Cretans were famous archers.
2. The Bacchic basket and serpent. On the reverse a temple between two serpents. In the middle of the temple, a lighted altar.
3. The Cretan Jupiter between two serpents.
The inhabitants of Crete are also said to have worshipped the Pythian Apollo. They had a Pythium; and the inhabitants were called Pythians 1.
6. We see, then, that serpent-worship very generally prevailed through Greece and its dependencies. Memorials of it have been preserved in many coins and medals, and pieces of ancient sculpture; and the only reason why we have not more records of this superstition is, that it was superseded by the fascination of the Polytheistic idolatry, which overwhelmed with a multitude of sculptured gods and goddesses the traditionary remains of the original religion.
There are, however, some few reliques of sculpture which bear interesting testimony to the worship of the serpent. Engravings of three
are preserved by Fabretti 1, which are worthy of attention.
No. 1 represents a TREE encircled by a SERPENT; an altar appears in front, and a boy on horseback is seen approaching it. The inscription states this to be a monument dedicated by Glycon to his infant son Euhemerus.
No. 2, an equestrian approaching an altar at the foot of a TREE, about the branches of which a SERPENT is entwined. A priestess stands by the altar.
No. 3. In the centre is a TREE with a SERPENT enfolding it. To the right of the tree is a naked female, holding in her hand a chalice under the serpent's mouth, and near her a man in the attitude of supplication to the serpent. On the left is Charon leading Cerberus towards the tree.
These are perhaps funeral monuments, and the serpent emblematic of the MANES of the departed, as Montfaucon would lead us to believe. But the third sculpture (in spite of Charon) seems rather to allude to the annual custom at Epirus of soliciting the sacred serpent for a good harvest. The narrative is in
[paragraph continues] Ælian, Hist. Anim. lib. xi. 2, by which we learn that the husbandmen of the country proceeded annually to the temple where live serpents were kept, and approached by naked priestesses. If the serpent received the proffered food, the omen was a good one, and vice versâ.
7. Under the head of Ophiolatreia in Greece," we may class Ophiomancy--divination by serpents. This superstition was sometimes resorted to by the Greeks, but was more common among the Romans: both of them borrowed it from earlier nations. For, the same word in Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek, which denotes "divination," denotes "a serpent." "Nachash"--"alahat 1"--οἰωνίζεσθαι--have the same double significations. The Greek word, according to Hesychius, is derived from οἰωνὸς, a snake; "because they divined by means of a snake, which they called οἰωνός."
This is a coincidence which implies that Ophiomancy was the first species of divination: as it ought to have been, since Ophiolatreia was the first species of idolatry.
A remarkable instance of Grecian Ophiomancy occurs in the divination of Calchas at Aulis in
[paragraph continues] Bœotia, before the confederate chiefs sailed for the siege of Troy.
While the chieftains were assembled under a tree, having sacrificed a hecatomb to the gods for the success of their enterprise, on a sudden a great sign--μέγα σῆμα--appeared. A serpent gliding from the base of an altar ascended the tree, and devouring a sparrow and her eight young ones, came down again, and was converted into stone 1. The omen was interpreted to mean a nine years' continuance of the war, and victory in the tenth.
In mentioning this anecdote we may remark, that the scene of the transaction was in Bœotia, one of the most celebrated loci of Ophiolatreia; and that Calchas, the soothsayer, acquired the gift of divination from APOLLO, or in other words, was a priest of the Ophite god.
1. Following the Ophites from Greece into Epirus, we find that their traces, though few, are decisive. In this country, we are informed by Ælian 2, there was a circular grove of Apollo enclosed within a wall, where sacred serpents were kept. At the great annual
festival, the virgin priestess approached them naked, holding in her hand the consecrated food. If they took it readily, it was deemed an augury of a fruitful harvest, and healthy year; if not, the contrary omen dismissed the anxious expectants in despondence. These serpents were said to be descended from the Python of Delphi,--a tradition which amounts to positive proof that the original religion of Delphi was Ophiolatreia.
2. From Epirus the superstition passed into Illyria. It was at Encheliæ that Cadmus and his wife were changed into serpents. A temple was erected to them in commemoration of this event; the probable form and dedication of which will be considered in the chapter on Ophite Temples.
Cadmus, who was the author of Ophiolatreia in Bœotia, Epirus, and Illyria, from having been the promoter, became the object of this idolatry. Like Thoth in Egypt, he was deified after death as the serpent-god, whose worship he had been so zealous to establish.
3. The superstition so generally received in Greece, passed rapidly into Macedonia, where the inhabitants of Pella became its chief votaries.
[paragraph continues] Of them 1, it is said that they kept domestic serpents, which were brought up among their children, and frequently nursed together with them, by the Macedonian mothers. The coins of Pella bore the impress of a serpent 2.
The idea of divine incarnation in a serpent must have appeared reasonable in that country to enable Olympias to invent the story of her son Alexander's dracontic origin. The queen was extravagantly fond of the Bacchanalian mysteries, at which she officiated in the character of a Bacchans. It is said by Plutarch 3, that she and her husband were initiated into them at Samothrace, when very young; and that she imitated the frantic gestures of the Edonian women in traversing the wilds of Mount Hæmus. When Olympias celebrated the orgies of Dionusus, attendants followed her, carrying Thyrsi encircled with serpents, having serpents also in their hair and chaplets.
4. The island of Samothrace was the Holy Isle of the ancients, and celebrated for the worship of the CABIRI, the most mysterious and awful of all the gods, whose name, even, it was
unlawful to pronounce lightly. The word "cabiri" is said to mean "the mighty ones." If it mean no more we may as vainly seek to penetrate into their hallowed abode for the illustration of our subject as the awe-struck Greeks themselves; but while probability opens a road to conjecture, we may be allowed to hazard one for its elucidation.
"CABIRI" is, evidently a noun in the plural number, of which the singular is to be found in "CABIR."
Now CABIR is probably a compound word, whose component parts may be CA-AB-IR. If so, the interpretation is easy, CA-AB-IR resolving itself at once into CA or CHA, domus 1; AB or AUB, Pythonis; IR or UR, Lucis vel Solis. "CABIR" will therefore mean "the temple of the serpent of the sun 2;" and "CABIRI" will bear the same signification, either as denoting more than one such temple, or a temple dedicated to two deities, AUB and the SUN.
Of the same kind I take to have been the CAABA of Mecca, which should be written CAABIR. Here we find the chief object of idolatry to have been a conical stone, which we know was an emblem of the solar god, being the image of a sun's ray. Another temple of this dedication was at Abury in Wiltshire, whose name, "Abury," is evidently "Abiri," or "Ab-ir," expressed in the plural number; the only difference 1 being, that in the name of this place the adjunct "ca" signifying "the temple," was dropped, and the names of the deity alone retained--ABIR, quasi, "SERPENS SOLIS." This temple we shall see hereafter was formed IN THE SHAPE OF A SERPENT. The substitution of gods for temples was of common occurrence in mythology, as we have seen in the case of Trophonius, where the TOR (or temple) of OPHON was changed into TROPHONIUS (the god.) It is not surprising, therefore, that "caabir," the temple of Abir, should be changed into "Cabir," the god: and by natural consequence, "Cabiri" would imply a plurality of gods of the same name.
The above conjecture, founded primarily upon etymology, is corroborated by FACTS.
Olympias, we have been informed by Plutarch, was initiated into the mysteries of Dionusus at Samothrace. Now Dionusus, the Orphic Bacchus, was symbolized by a serpent. This alone would be sufficient to support our conjecture on the etymology of "Cabiri." But we learn further, that the Orphic CURES, the chief of the CABIRI, assumed a dracontic form; and that the Orphic CRONUS and HERCULES are also described either as compounded of a man, a lion, and a serpent; or, simply, as a winding snake 1. It was a common opinion among the Greeks that Ceres, Proserpine, and Bacchus were the Cabiri. To each of these deities, it is to be observed, the serpent was sacred, and formed a prominent feature in their mysteries.
I leave, therefore, to the candid consideration of the reader, the probability of the derivation which has been assigned to the word "Cabiri."
Between the religion of Samothrace and that of the Thracian continent, there was a strong similarity, or rather union. The great prophet of this common religion was Orpheus, who resided
chiefly at Thrace, and was to that country what Thoth was to Egypt, and Cadmus to Greece,--the promoter of Ophiolatreia: but it was Ophiolatreia in conjunction with the solar idolatry. It seems that the original worship of the serpent had been already corrupted by the adoption of the mysteries of Dionusus. Thus Dionysopolis was "the city of Dionusus;" and consequently we find a coiled serpent impressed upon its coins. The same appeared on the medals of Pantalia, another city in Thrace; upon which Spanheim remarks, "Istud vero ex iis nummis colligas, in Macedoniâ, Thraciâ, Paphlagoniâ, Ponto, Bithyniâ, Ciliciâ, et vicinis regionibus, haud alios locorum genios et custodes gratiores, id genus draconibus extitisse 1."
The priestesses of the superstition of Dionusus were no longer Pythonesses or Oubs, but Bacchantes: and many other innovations mark the decline of Ophiolatreia before Orpheus succeeded (but in succeeding lost his life) in uniting it to the sun-worship.
III. ITALY.--We come now to the traces of Ophiolatreia in Italy.
In this country the principal colony of Ophites settled in Campania, and were called Opici or Ophici, from the object of their idolatry, Ὀφικοὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ὄφεων, say Stephanus Byzantinus 1. The same people were called Pitanatæ, as testified by Strabo 2. "Pitanatæ," remarks Bryant, "is a term of the same import as Opici, and relates to the votaries of Pitan, the serpent-deity, which was adored by the people. Menelaus was, of old, styled Pitanates, as we learn from Hesychius; and the reason of it may be known from his being a Spartan, by which was intimated one of the Serpentigentæ, or Ophites. Hence he was represented with a serpent on his shield 3." This word Pitan is derived from the same root as Python: namely, the Hebrew פתן serpens, vel, aspis.
Many representations of warriors with the serpent on their shields, may be seen on the Etruscan vases, discovered on the estate of Canino in Etruria, which is supposed to have been the ancient Vitulonia 4.
Jerome Colonna attributes the name of Opici to the people of Campania, from a former king
bearing upon his standard the figure of a serpent 1. But this would be the necessary con-sequence of his being an Ophite; for the military ensigns of most ancient nations were usually the images of the gods whom they worshipped. Thus a brigade of infantry among the Greeks was called πιτανάτης 2; and the Romans, in the age of Marcus Aurelius, had a dragon standard at the head of each cohort, ten in every legion. The legion marched under the eagle 3. These dragons were not woven upon any fabric of cloth, but were real images carried on poles 4. Some say (as Casaubon not. in Vopis. Hist. Aug. 231.) that the Romans borrowed the dragon standard from the Parthians: but their vicinity to the Opici of Campania may perhaps suggest a more probable origin. The use of them by the Parthians may have induced the emperor Aurelius to extend them in his own army; but this extension was perhaps rather a revival than an introduction of the dragon ensign. They are
mentioned by Claudian in his Epithalamium of Honorius and Maria, v. 193.
Stent bellatrices aquilæ, sævique dracones.
He mentions them again in his panegyric on Ruffinus and Honorius. Some of his lines are highly pictorial; such as:
Surgere purpureis undantes anguibus hastas,
Serpentumque vago cœlum sævire volatu.
Ruff. lib. ii.
-------------------------hi picta draconum
Colla levant, multusque tumet per nubila serpens,
Iratus, stimulante noto, vivitque receptis
Flatibus, et vario mentitur sibula tractu.
Prudentius and Sidonius Apollinaris also mention them.
The bearers of these standards were called draconarii; and it is not improbable that hence might have been derived our own expression of "dragoons," to designate a certain description of cavalry, though the original meaning of the word is altogether lost. This word we have borrowed from the French, who received it probably from the Romans.
From Campania the Ophites passed into Latium,
and established the chief seat of their religion at Lanuvium. The medals of this city bore the figure of a dragon or a large serpent; which, according to Spanheim, would denote that this animal represented the tutelary god of the place: an opinion which is proved correct by the following extracts from Ælian 1 and Propertius. From the former we learn, that at Lanuvium is a large and dark grove, and near it a temple of the Argive Juno. In the same place is a large deep cave, the den of a great serpent. To this grove the virgins of Latium are taken annually to ascertain their chastity, which is indicated by the dragon." Propertius, describing this annual custom speaks thus:
Disce quid Esquilias hac nocte fugavit aquosas,
Cum vicina novis turba cucurrit agris.
Lanuvium annosi vetus est tutela draconis;
Hic ubi tam rarer non perit hora moræ,
Qua sacer abripitur cæco descensus hiatu,
Qua penetral, (virgo, tale iter omne cave!)
Jejuni serpentis honos, cum pabula poscit
Annua, et ex ima sibila torquet humo.
Talia demissæ pallent ad sacra puellæ:
Cum tenera anguino traditur ore manus. p. 240
Ille sibi admotas a virgine corripit escas;
Virginis in palmis ipsa canistra tremunt.
Si fuerint castæ, redeunt in colla parentum,
Clamantque agricolæ "fertilis annus erit 1!"
[paragraph continues] There is great similarity between the above scene, and that mentioned in a former part of this chapter, as taking place annually in Epirus; and there can be no doubt that they belonged to the same superstition.
The Ophites who settled in Campania and Lanuvium, left a colony also in Crotona, and at Lilybæum in Sicily: for both these places were remarkable for the dracontic medal, which generally denoted the consecration of a city to the serpent-god 2.
The Marsi who settled at the lake Fucinus are said by Virgil, Æn. vii. 750. to have been "charmers of serpents," which is tantamount to calling them Ophites.
Montfaucon 3 has an engraving from a silver medal of Lepidus, on which is a tripod:--"A serpent of vast length raises itself over the vase, twisting his body into a great many folds and
knots . . . . . . . The serpent's head darts rays; which seems to show that this part of the Egyptian Theology (relating to the solar serpent) had spread itself among the Romans; and that they represented the sun by a serpent."
Ophiomancy prevailed among the Romans, when Ophiolatreia had decreased through the influence of time and civilization. The accidental sight of a serpent was sometimes esteemed a good 1, and sometimes a bad omen. The death of Tiberius Gracchus was denoted by a serpent found in his house 2. Sylla was more fortunate in his divination from a serpent which glided from beneath an altar, while he was sacrificing at Nola: as also was Roscius, whose future successful career was foretold, from his being found, when an infant, sleeping in his cradle, enfolded by a snake. In each of these cases Haruspices were sent for, who interpreted the omen.
A serpent was accounted among the pedestria auspicia, and is alluded to by Horace, lib. iii.
ode 27; who seems to consider it a sinister omen:--
Rumpat et serpens iter institutum,
Si per obliquum, similis sagittæ,
Terence 1 also considers it in the same light--
Monstra evenerunt mihi:
Introit in ædes ater alienus canis,
Anguis per impluvium decidit de tegulis.
The Sardinians also, as we are informed by De Lacepede, domesticated the serpent, as an animal of auspicious omen. This notion may have reached them either from Italy or Africa.
IV. NORTHERN EUROPE.--The Romans being, comparatively, a modern people, had not among them those strong traces of Ophiolatreia which we have observed in Phœnicia, Egypt, and Greece. But if we now follow the northward march of the sacred serpent from the plains of Shinar, we shall find that he entered deeply into the mythology of the tribes who penetrated into Europe through the Oural mountains. Of these, the Sarmatian horde, as being nearest to the seat of their original habitation, first claims attention.
An unlettered race of wandering barbarians cannot be expected to have preserved many records of their ancient religion; but to the enterprising missionaries of the Christian faith we are indebted for sufficient notices to assure us that THE WORSHIP OF THE SERPENT was their primitive idolatry. To this conclusion we are, indeed, led by the few fragments of tradition in the classical writers who have noticed the religion of the remote Hyperboreans. These people were devoted to the solar superstition 1, of which the most ancient and most general symbol was the serpent. We may therefore expect to find traces of the pure serpent-worship, also, in their religion. They had a priestess called Opis, who came with another priestess (Argis) to Delos, bringing offerings to Lucina, in gratitude for the safe delivery of some distinguished females of their own country 2. These, according to Faber 3, were priestesses of OPH and ARG (the deified personification of the ARK.) Bryant 4 also cites a line from Callimachus,
which gives the name of three priestesses of the Hyperboreans, two of whom are Oupis and Evaion. The latter word he decomposes into eva-on, serpens sol. So that they were representatives of the two superstitions--the simple and primitive serpent-worship, and the worship of the solar serpent. Other obscure, though not altogether uncertain, notices are to be found in Diodorus Siculus, Hecateus, &c. which lead to the conclusion that the Ophite religion was once prevalent in the north of Europe 2. These inferences are corroborated by indisputable facts of modern discovery, which I now proceed to detail.
1. SARMATIA. From Ouzel 1 we learn that the serpent was one of the earliest objects of worship in Sarmatia. He cites Erasmus Stella de Antiq. Borussiæ. "For some time," says this author, "they had no sacred rites; at length they arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that they worshipped serpents and trees." The connexion between serpents and trees we have had occasion to notice more than once. They
are united on the sepulchral monuments of the Greeks and Romans, on the coins of Tyre, and among the Fetiches of Whidah. We shall find them, in the same union, pervading the religion of the Hyperboreans of every description, the superstition of the Scandinavians, and the worship of the Druids. They are closely connected in the mythology of the Heathens of almost every nation: and the question is not unnatural--"whence arose this union?" The coincidences are too remarkable to be unmeaning; and I have no hesitation in affirming my belief that THE PARADISIACAL SERPENT, and THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE, are the prototypes of the idolatry.
The Samogitæ (Muscovites) partook of the same superstition 1. They worshipped the serpent as A GOD; and if any adversity befell them, concluded that their domestic serpents (which, like the people of Pella, they kept in their houses,) had been negligently served.
From Muscovy we may follow the same superstition into Lithuania, the modern Poland. These people, we are informed by Guaguin 2,
[paragraph continues] "believed vipers and serpents to be gods, and worshipped them with great veneration. Every householder, whether citizen, husbandman, or noble, kept a serpent in his house, as a house-hold god: and it was deemed so deadly an offence to injure or dishonour these serpents, that they either deprived of property or of life every one who was guilty of such a crime."
In Koch (De cultu Serpentum, p. 39: a valuable, though short and superficial treatise,) we read the following passage: That these wretched idolaters offered sacrifices to serpents, Jerome of Prague (teste Sylvio de Europâ, c. 26.) saw with his own eyes . . . . . . Every householder had a snake in a corner of his house, to which he gave food and offered sacrifice, as he lay upon the hay. Jerome commanded all these to be killed, and publicly burnt. Among such as were brought out for this purpose, one was found larger than the rest, which, though often thrown into the fire, could not be consumed."
The serpent-worship of the Lithuanians is also noticed by Cromer 1 who charges the Prussians likewise with the same idolatry. Guaguin relates an anecdote of a serpent worshipper
of Lithuania, who was persuaded to destroy his domestic god; and subsequently losing all his bees, (by whose labour he subsisted,) attributed the calamity to his apostacy, and relapsed into his former superstition. The scene of this anecdote was a village near Troki, six miles from Vilna; upon which Masius 1 remarks, "Est quatuor a Vilna miliaribus, Lavariski, villa regia; in quâ a multis ADHUC serpentes coluntur."
The Lithuanians were the last of the Europeans who were converted to Christianity; an event which did not take place until the fourteenth century. Jagello, the last heathen duke, was baptized anno 1386 2.
The inhabitants of Livonia were also addicted to this gross idolatry, and carried it to a barbarous length. It is said that they were accustomed to sacrifice the most beautiful of their captives to their dragon-gods 3. The same custom we have observed to exist at Whidah.
2. SCANDINAVIA. The second great northern
family of Europe, was the Scandinavian, inhabiting the country now occupied by the Laplanders, Fins, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes. To these were allied the Vandals and Lombards, not only by ties of consanguinity but religion. These were well addicted to the worship of the serpent; and some of them retained in their traditionary mythology, traces, not obscure, of the fall of man.
We are informed by Olaus Magnus 1, that domestic serpents were considered as penates in the extreme parts of the north of Europe; and that they were fed on cows' milk, or that of sheep, together with the children. They played freely in the houses, and it was an offence of the first magnitude to hurt them.
Among the Ophites of the north, the most conspicuous were the Danes, who exhibited the sacred dragon upon their royal standard. Pontanus 2 alluding to it, expresses himself thus:--
Hinc rigidos Sclavos effert pernicibus alis,
Et loco propugnat sanguinolenta DRACO.
The dragon standard of the Danes was carried by their piratical brethren, the Normans, into France; and was for many years the ensign of the Dukes of Normandy. Du Fresne cites a charter granted to one of the family of Bertran, to bear "the dragon standard."
But this custom, so commonly observed by the Ophites, would not have pre-eminently distinguished the Danes as worshippers of the sacred serpent, had there not been discovered a sacrificial vessel of their primitive idolatry, which is at once a confirmation of their superstition, and a key to its mysteries. It is, indeed, a most valuable interpreter of the Celtic faith, as it respected the tradition of the fall of man, and an eloquent index to the religion of the Druids.
This relic of idolatry is the celebrated horn found by a female peasant, near Tundera 1, in Denmark, in the year, 1639. It is of gold, and embossed in parallel circles, of rude workmanship. These circular compartments are seven in number, and in five out of the seven circles, the figure of a serpent is seen in various attitudes.
Circle 1 represents a naked boy or woman kneeling. The extended arms are held up to heaven. On each side of this figure is a large serpent in the attitude of attack.
In the second compartment of this circle, the same naked figure appears flying from a serpent which pursues. The third compartment represents the serpent with his face averted from the figure, who holds up both hands, as if in gratitude for deliverance.
Circle 2 exhibits a naked boy or woman (for the figure has no beard) seated upon the ground, with the hands brought together, as if in the action of prayer to a serpent. Another serpent is coiled behind the figure, with his head and the upper part of his body erect. The next compartment of this circle contains the same human figure in conversation with the serpent.
The serpent appears in three others of the seven circles, but not in so historical a form. In these it is probably a representation of the constellation Draco, for some of the remaining figures seem to belong to the zodiac.
It may be rash to conjecture that the first two circles allude to the history of man in paradise, persecuted by the serpent, and saved
from his extreme violence: but, nevertheless, the compartment which describes the human figure in conversation with its dracontic enemy, seems to point to this event.
Koch considers the hieroglyphics as explanatory of the ancient practice of the country, which devoted human victims to serpent-gods. "Nos exinde conjecimus, a tenerâ ætate infantes serpentibus vovisse, superstitiosos veteres 1." Olaus Wormius is of opinion that the serpent referred to the serpent-tempter and destroyer.
But whichever be correct, (and for our theory it matters not which,) it is evident that the figures have a sacred signification, either as connected with the religious rites, superstitions, or fables of the original possessors.
Now we know, from unquestionable authority, that not only did Ophiolatreia prevail throughout the whole of this and the neighbouring countries, but also that the tradition of the serpent in paradise was preserved in the mythology of Scandinavia, with an accuracy equal to that of the Greeks and Phœnicians. Hence it matters not, whether THE HORN be descriptive of the fall of man, of the Ophite rites of the
[paragraph continues] Scandinavians, or simply of the zodiac, as delineated by the northern astronomers. For the astronomical mythology which relates to the serpent or dragon, was entirely borrowed from the events in Paradise, to which also may be referred the whole of the Ophite worship.
The Vandals worshipped their principal deity under the form of a flying dragon; and, like the rest of their northern brethren, kept domestic serpents. It is said that their women also kept snakes in hollow oaks, to whom they made offerings of milk 1, and whom they adored with the most abject humility. They prayed to them for blessings, for the health of their husbands, and family, &c. 2--in a word, adored them as gods.
The Lombards also cherished the same superstition,
for they carried it with their victorious arms into Italy. When Barbatus lived at Benevento, A.D. 688, he discovered that some of the inhabitants, who were Lombards, worshipped a golden viper and a tree, on which the skin of a wild beast was hung." He suppressed this idolatry, and being made Bishop of Benevento, cut down the tree, and melted the golden viper for a sacramental chalice 1.
V. WESTERN EUROPE.
1. BRITAIN. Our British ancestors, under the tuition of the venerable Druids, were not only worshippers of the solar deity, symbolized by the serpent, but held the serpent, independent of his relation to the sun, in peculiar veneration. Cut off from all intimate intercourse with the civilized world, partly by their remoteness 2, and partly by their national character 3, the Britons retained their primitive idolatry long after it had yielded in the neighbouring countries to the polytheistic corruptions of Greece and Egypt. In process of time, however, the
gods of the Gaulish Druids penetrated into the sacred mythology of the British, and furnished personifications for the different attributes of the dracontic god HU. This deity was called "THE DRAGON RULER OF THE WORLD 1," and his car was drawn by SERPENTS 2. His priests, in accommodation with the general custom of the ministers of the Ophite god, were called after him, ADDERS 3.
In a poem of Taliessin, translated by Davies, in his Appendix, No. 6, is the following enumeration of a Druid's titles:
"I am a Druid; I am an architect; I am a prophet;
I am a SERPENT"--(Gnadr.)
From the word Gnadr is derived "adder," the name of a species of snake. Gnadr was probably pronounced like "adder" with a nasal aspirate.
The mythology of the Druids contained also a goddess CERIDWEN, whose car was drawn by serpents. It is conjectured that this was Grecian CERES; and not without reason, for the in-creasing intercourse between the British and
[paragraph continues] Gaulish Druids introduced into the purer religion of the former many of the corruptions ingrafted upon that of the latter by the Greeks and Romans. The Druids of Gaul had among them many divinities corresponding with those of Greece and Rome. They worshipped OGMIUS, (a compound deity between Hercules and Mercury,) and, after him, Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva, or deities resembling them 1. Of these they made images; whereas hitherto the only image in the British worship was the great wicker idol, into which they thrust HUMAN VICTIMS designed to be burnt as AN EXPIATORY SACRIFICE for the sins of some chieftain. The wicker idol, though formed in the shape of a man, was perhaps rather a sacrificial ornament than a god; emblematic of the nature of the victims within it. The whole sacrifice was but an ignorant expression of the primeval and universal faith in the ATONEMENT.
The following translation of a Bardic poem, descriptive of one of their religious rites, identifies the superstition of the British Druids with the aboriginal Ophiolatreia, as expressed in the mysteries of Isis in Egypt. The poem is entitled,
[paragraph continues] "The Elegy of Uther Pendragon;" that is, of Uther, "The Dragon's Head;" and it is not a little remarkable that the word "Draig" in the British language, signifies, at the same time, "a fiery serpent, a dragon, and THE SUPREME GOD 1."
In the second part of this poem is the following description of the sacrificial rites of Uther Pendragon.
With solemn festivity round the two lakes;
With the lake next my side;
With my side moving round the sanctuary;
While the sanctuary is earnestly invoking
THE GLIDING KING, before whom the FAIR ONE
Retreats, upon the veil that covers the huge stones;
Whilst THE DRAGON moves round over
The places which contain vessels
Of drink offering:
Whilst the drink offering is in THE GOLDEN HORNS;
Whilst the golden horns are in the hand;
Whilst the knife is upon the chief victim;
Sincerely I implore thee, O victorious BELI, &c. &c.
This is a most minute and interesting account of the religious rites of the Druids, proving in clear terms their addiction to Ophiolatreia:
we have not only the history of "THE GLIDING KING," who pursues "THE FAIR ONE," depicted upon "the veil which covers the huge stones"--a history which reminds us most forcibly of the events in Paradise, under a poetic garb; but we have, likewise, beneath that veil, within the sacred circle of "the huge stones," THE GREAT DRAGON, A LIVING SERPENT, "moving round the places which contain the vessels of drink-offering;" or, in other words, moving round the altar stone, in the same manner as the serpent in the Isiac mysteries passed about the sacred vessels containing the offerings:
"Pigraque labatur circa donaria serpens 1."
The GOLDEN HORNS, which contained the drink offerings, were very probably of the same kind as that found in Tundera, in Denmark, and described in a preceding page of this chapter: a probability which confirms the Ophiolatreia of the DANES, argued in the same section from historical documents. And conversely, the existence of the Danish horn proves that in the mysteries of Druidical worship, the serpent was a prominent character.
If we refer to the description of the horn of Tundera 1 we shall find upon it precisely the same impressed history which was pictured "upon the veil that covered the huge stones." The dragon, "the gliding king," is seen in the same attitude of pursuing a naked figure, which might be mistaken, from the rude workmanship of the horn, for a boy; but which is proved by the Bardic poem, above cited, to be a female; "the fair one," as she is, by a figure of poetry, designated.
The god to whom these offerings were made and whose sacrifices were here celebrated, was BELL; perhaps the BEL of the Babylonians, and the OBEL of primitive worship; the architype
of APOLLO in the name and rites. To BEL, the Babylonians consecrated, as we have seen, a living serpent; and living serpents were also preserved in the Fane of Delphi, and in many other places where the deity OPH or OB was worshipped. The fabulous hero himself, in whose honour these sacrifices are celebrated, was distinguished by the title of "The Wonderful Dragon." Every circumstance, therefore, combines to strengthen the conclusion, that the Druids thus engaged were OPHITES of the original stock.
The learned Celtic scholar, from whose translation the above poem is taken, explains it in these words:--"These ceremonies are performed at a public and solemn festival, whilst the sanctuary, or assembly of priests and votaries, invoke the dragon king. The place of consecration is on the sacred mound, within the stone circle and mount which represent the world, and near the consecrated lakes 1. At this time
the huge stones of the temple were covered with a veil, on which was delineated the history of the dragon king. There seems also to have been a living serpent as a symbol of the god, who is gliding from place to place, and tasting the drink-offerings in the sacred vessels 1."
The sanctity of the serpent showed itself in another very curious part of the superstition of the British Druids, namely, in that which related to the formation and virtues of the celebrated anguinum, as it is called by Pliny, or gleinen nadroeth, that is, snake-stones, as they were called by the Britons. Sir Richard Colt Hoare
gives an engraving of one in his "Modern Wiltshire, Hundred of Amesbury," p. 56. "This is a bead of imperfect vitrification, representing two circular lines of opaque skyblue and white, which seem to represent a snake twined round a centre which is perforated." Many beads of this kind have been found in various parts of the island of Great Britain. Mr. Lhwyd, the celebrated Welsh antiquary, thus describes them in a letter to Ralph Thoresby:--"I am fully satisfied that they were amulets of the Druids. . . . . . . I have seen one of them that had nine small snakes upon it. . . . . . . . There are others that have one or two or more snakes 1."
These, we are informed by the Roman naturalist, were worn about the neck as charms, and were deemed efficacious in rendering their possessors fortunate in every difficult emergency. He records an anecdote of a Roman knight, who was put to death by Claudius for entering a court of justice with an anguinum on his neck, in the belief that its virtue would overrule the judgment in his favour.
The word anguinum is obviously derived from
anguis, a snake; and the formation of it is thus described by Pliny:--"An infinite number of snakes, entwined together in the heat of summer, roll themselves into a mass, and from the saliva of their jaws, and the froth of their bodies, is engendered an EGG, which is called 'anguinum.' By the violent hissing of the serpents the egg is forced into the air, and the Druid, destined to secure it, must catch it in his sacred vest before it reaches the ground."
This singular superstition was still extant in Wales and Cornwall in the time of Camden, as we find from the following passage in his Britannia, page 815. "In most parts of Wales, throughout all Scotland, and in Cornwall, we find it a common opinion of the vulgar, that about Midsummer-eve it is usual for snakes to meet in company, and that by their joining heads together and hissing, a kind of bubble is formed, which the rest by continual hissing blow on till it passes quite through the body, and then it immediately hardens, and resembles a glass ring, which whoever finds will prosper in all undertakings. The rings thus generated are called gleinen nadroeth; in English, snake-stones." They are small glass amulets, commonly
half as wide as finger rings, but much thicker, and of a green colour usually, though sometimes blue, and waved with red and white."
The anguinum continued to be venerated in Cornwall in the time of Dr. Borlase, but the tradition of its formation was somewhat different from the above. "The country people have a persuasion, that the snakes here breathing upon a hazel wand, produce a stone ring of a blue colour, in which there appears the yellow figure of a snake; and that beasts bit and envenomed, being given some of the water to drink wherein this stone has been infused, will perfectly recover of the poison 1."
These charms were usually called "glains;" and, according to Davies 2, "were some blue, some white, a third sort green, and a fourth variegated with all these colours, but still preserving the appearance of glass. Others again were made of earth, and only glazed over."
The "egg" of which Pliny speaks was only an envelope, the interior and real glain being either a circle or a lunette: the latter referring
probably to the lunar deity, or according to Davies, to the arkite worship, the ark being sometimes described under the form of a lunette. These stones have been frequently found in Wales, Northamptonshire 1, and in many other parts of England. Dr. Stukeley, in his description of the Druidical temple of Abury in Wiltshire, mentions having bought two British beads of the inhabitants, "one large, of a light blue, and ribbed; and the other less, of a dark blue;" which had been dug up out of one of the barrows on Hakpen Hill, a promontory upon which rested the head of the serpent which formed the avenues to the temple of Abury. Beads of this kind have been found in the barrows near Stonehenge, and are probably most of them the "gleinen nadroeth," deposited in the sepulchres of the dead as talismanic securities; the same perhaps which had been worn by the deceased in their lifetime.
Analogous to this is the superstition of the Malabarians, who venerate the Pedra del Cobra, or serpent-stone, which the Brahmins persuade them is taken from the head of the hooded serpent,
and, when consecrated by the priests, an effective charm against the bite of venomous snakes.
This is the serpent-stone to which Pliny alludes, as being held in high estimation by the eastern kings. "It must be cut out of the brain of a living serpent, where it grows; for if the serpent die, the stone dissolves. The natives, therefore, first charm the serpent to sleep with herbs; and when he is lulled, make a sudden incision in his head, and cut out the stone 1."
The superstition of the anguinum prevailed also in Scandinavia, as we learn from Olaus Magnus: "Creduntur (sc. serpentes) veterum relatione, lapidem flatu suo gignere 2."
Between the religion of the Druids and that of the Scandinavians there was a strong similarity, though not in every respect an identity. The same sacrificial rites to the dracontic god, and the same circular temples, may be observed in Britain and the Scandinavian countries 3; and a branch of the same idolatry flourished
in Ireland--so extensively was Ophiolatreia spread over Europe.
Mr. Faber is of opinion that "the many stories in England of the destruction of huge serpents, relate ultimately to the destruction of the living serpents worshipped by the Druids." He instances the cave of the dragon of Wharncliff in Yorkshire, as precisely similar by legendary description to the cave of Cadmus's dragon; and remarks that the manor of Sockburne, is still held by the tenure of exhibiting to the Bishop of Durham a sword with which a monstrous serpent is said to have been slain." The presentation of the sword to the Bishop, would seem to imply that a religious service had been rendered by its former owner. This might have been the destruction of an Ophite temple. For in most countries the overthrow of the serpent-worshippers is allegorized into a victory over some monstrous dragon, who infested the neighbourhood. That the votaries of Ophiolatreia penetrated into every part of Britain, is probable from the vestiges of some such idolatry even now to be found in Scotland and the western isles. Several obelisks remain in the vicinity of Aberdeen, Dundee, and Perth, upon which
are devices strongly indicative of Ophiolatreia. They are engraved in Gordon's Itinerarium Septentrionale. The serpent is a frequent and conspicuous hieroglyphic. From the Runic characters traced upon some of these stones, it is conjectured that they were erected by the Danes. Such might have been the case; but the Danes themselves were a sect of Ophites, and had not the people of the country been Ophites also, they might not have suffered these monuments to remain. Dr. Ingram pronounces some of these stones to be Phœnician, especially one on which the figure of a serpent is seen with the sun and moon revolving about his head. He considers this figure to be a record of "the old serpent."
An obelisk near Dundee, is very remarkable. It is plain on every side but one, on which is carved the representation of a man on horseback pursuing a dragon. The tradition is that the hero lived on the skirts of a forest where the dragon concealed himself, and preyed upon the human race. Among other victims, he devoured the nine daughters of this chieftain, who thereupon mounted his horse, and plunging into the forest, attacked the monster. The dragon fled before
him, but was overtaken and slain upon the spot where the obelisk above mentioned now stands to record the deed. The track through which the dragon and his pursuer passed is called "the den of Bal Dragon 1."
It is possible that this story may also allude to the destruction of an Ophite temple.
British Ophiolatreia sunk beneath the unsparing sword of the Romans. But a symbol of the idolatry survived its overthrow; and under the form of "the Dragon standard," not only sustained the nationality of the Welsh, but also became the idol of the Anglo-Saxons.
The origin of this standard is curiously though apocryphally explained by Matthew of Westminster. "The brother of the British king Aurelius beheld a vision--a fiery meteor in the form of a great dragon, illumined the heavens with a portentous glare. The astrologers unanimously expounded the omen to signify that the seer would one day sit upon the throne of Britain. Aurelius died, and his brother became king. His first royal act was to cause the fabrication of two dragons in gold, like the figure which the meteor assumed. One of these he placed
in Winchester Cathedral; the other he reserved to be carried before him in his military expeditions. And hence the custom which the kings of England have ever since observed--that of having the Dragon standard borne before them in battle." The dragon standard was borne before Richard in Palestine, and two noble knights disputed the honour of carrying it. "When the king had planted his standard in the middle," says Hoveden, "he gave his dragon to be borne by Peter de Pratellis, contrary to the claim of Robert de Trussebut, who demanded that honour as his hereditary right."
In the hands of the standard-bearer of Henry the Third, the dragon was avowedly the harbinger of destruction. In the Welsh campaign, "so great was the indignation of Henry," says Knighton, "that having raised the dragon standard, he ordered his troops to advance and give no quarter." The same, says Matthew of Paris--"animating his troops the marched daily clad in armour, and unfolding his royal ensign, the dragon which knows not how to spare, he threatened extermination to the Welsh." With similar ferocity and with the same terrific standard, he
marched against his rebellious barons. The dragon was always the herald of "no quarter."
In camp this standard was planted in the front of the king's pavilion, to the right of the other ensigns, and was kept unfurled day and night 1.
The dragon was introduced by Henry the Seventh, as a supporter of the royal arms. He brought it from Wales, and it is still the king's crest as sovereign of that principality. It gave place, at the Union, to the Unicorn of Scotland; but the heraldic dragon is as different an animal from the poetic, as the poetic is from the religious, which last was merely a large serpent.
2. IRELAND.--The prevalence of the Celtic superstition in Ireland is marked, even now, by stupendous monuments: but the Druids of this nation assimilated themselves rather to those of Gaul than of Britain. The chief object of their adoration was OGHAM or OGMIUS, the same as the deity OG of Trachonitis. His images were represented as holding in their hands the club of Hercules, surmounted by the caduceus of Mercury, the wings of which were attached to
the club. The staff of the caduceus terminated in a ring.
At New Grange, in the county of Meath, has been discovered a grand cruciform cavern, whose consecration to Mithras is indisputable. This Persian deity was symbolized by a serpent, and is the corresponding god to Apollo in Grecian mythology. Here were dug up three remarkable stones, on which mystical figures, like spiral lines, or coiled serpents, rudely carved, have been observed. "These lines," says Mr. Beauford, who describes the cavern, "appear to be the representation of serpents coiled up, and were probably symbols of the Divine Being 1." The relation of these relics to the celebrated Omphalos we have considered in a former part of this volume, to which, therefore, the reader is referred.
For the paucity of the remains of the ancient Ophiolatreia in Ireland, we are perhaps indebted to the renowned St. Patrick, whose popular legend may not, after all, be so ridiculous or so groundless as Englishmen and Protestants are accustomed to imagine. It is said, and believed by the lower order of Irish
to this day, that St. Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland by his prayers. May not this imply that St. Patrick, in evangelizing that country, overthrew the superstition of THE SERPENT-WORSHIPPERS? Such an inference is drawn by Bryant, from similar stories of the destruction of serpents in the Grecian Archipelago and Peloponnesus; and I see no reason why a similar line of argument should not be adopted in regard to the achievements of St. Patrick in Ireland. Such fables are general in Christian countries which were ever devoted to Ophiolatreia 1.
3. GAUL.--The ancient religion of Gaul, though established by Druids, was not so pure as that of Britain; neither did it retain so strong a hold upon the affections of the people. There was in it more of idolatry, and less of priestcraft; so that when the Romans subjugated the country, the natives passed rapidly into the superstitions of their conquerors. To render this transition the more easy, their primitive religion had already been corrupted by the inroads of Egyptian theology; but at what period or through what channel, is involved in mystery.
[paragraph continues] The well-known figures of Gallic deities, decorated with the caduceus of Hermes, are monuments of the fact. This god was probably the Theutates of Celtic mythology, the Theuth or Thoth of the Egyptian 1; and identical with the Gothic Teut or Tuisto 2. The name Tat, Tath, or Tait," remarks Faber, "was well known to the ancient Irish," (whose priests we have observed were probably of the Gallic tribe of Druids.) "By this word they designated the first day of the month August, that being the month of harvest, and Tait being the god who presided over agriculture. The month which among the Egyptians corresponded with August was called by the name of the god Thoth 3."
This remark of Faber brings to mind the singular connexion of the sacred serpent with agriculture, in the mythology of the Greeks. There we have Ceres, the goddess of corn, sitting in a chariot drawn by serpents. Triptolemus, the founder of the Eleusinian mysteries, was no sooner instructed by Ceres in the arts of agriculture, than he was presented with the dracontic chariot to carry him through the world,
to dispense the same blessings among mankind which he had bestowed upon his own countrymen. And both in the Pythian temple of Epirus, and at Lanuvium in Italy were sacred serpents to whom the farmers of the vicinity resorted for an omen of a good or bad harvest.
When we consider that Thoth was the great promoter of Ophiolatreia in Phœnicia and Egypt, the coincidence will be remarkable, as obliquely bearing upon the great question in hand--the derivation of all mythology relating to the serpent, from the events in Paradise.
For, independently of the connexion of the serpent-tempter with the tree and its fruit, the memory of which has been wonderfully preserved throughout the world, one of the immediate consequences of the serpent's success in seducing our first parents, was a general deterioration of the properties of the earth 1. Hence, in the confusion of truth and error, of which heathen mythology is almost entirely composed, would naturally arise the opinion that the serpent was in some mysterious manner influential upon agriculture: and the genius of superstition would
very readily invest the reptile with the attribute of a god oracular to husbandmen.
To Teutates, or Mercury, the Druids of Gaul were accustomed to immolate human victims. There is nothing peculiar in this sacrificial observance, except its connexion with a singular opinion which borders so closely upon the doctrine of THE ATONEMENT, that I cannot pass it by. It is thus expressed by Cæsar 1:--"PRO VITA HOMINIS NISI VITA HOMINIS REDDATUR, NON POSSE ALTIER DEORUM IMMORTALIUM NUMEN PLACARI, ARBITRANTUR." The sacrifice of human victims was at one time universal, but in no religion has been preserved so clear a conception of the truth. The people who entertained it must have separated very early from the rest of the heathen, and retained their primeval errors almost unbroken.
In the Druids, then, we behold some of the first deviators from the faith of Noah; and the purer the druidism, the nearer the truth.
The other leading doctrines of the Druids correspond in simplicity with this remarkable opinion: the unity of the Godhead, and the immortality of the soul, being the foundation
of their creed, before it was corrupted by the polytheism of Egypt transmitted through Phœnicia. It was in this corrupted state that the Romans found it.
THE SOLAR-SERPENT-WORSHIP of the Persians seems to have penetrated into Gaul; for "there is a mixed symbolic image at Arles, the principal part of which is that of a human person clothed with a veil, on which are wrought in relievo, the figures of the zodiac. Round this person THE DRAGON SERPENT winds his flexile course 1." . . . . . . .
But the most curious relic of the religion of the Gauls has been preserved in a piece of sculpture on the front of a temple at Montmorillon in Poitou, of which Montfaucon has given us an engraving 2. It is thus described by this ingenious antiquary--"Over the gate of the temple are eight human figures of rude workmanship, which are probably deities. Of these eight there are six images of men placed in two
groups, three and three together . . . . . . . the figures terminating the sides are women. One of them has long hair hanging down before her, and is dressed very like the women now-a-days. She holds her hands on her sides, and wears gloves like those now used. That on the other end is naked, and has TWO SERPENTS twisting round her legs, &c. Now these figures being all clothed, except the last mentioned, in garments apparently of a sacerdotal character, were probably intended to represent the habits of the priests and priestesses of the eight principal gods of the Gauls. For we have other images of the Gallic gods very differently habited from these. We may infer, therefore, that the naked female, with the two serpents, was the priestess of the deity to whom the serpent was more particularly sacred. A conclusion which is rendered reasonable by the fact, that the Ophite deity of the Egyptians was known to the Druids of Britain, and consequently must have been known to those of Gaul. Our inference, thus corroborated, is still farther illustrated by the customs prevalent at the Pythian temples of Epirus and Lanuvium, in which the god was a serpent, and the officiating priestess naked.
It is difficult to ascertain the connecting link between the several chains of Ophiolatreia through the world; but it is probable that some intercourse, unremembered in history, existed between the Grecian and Gallic states at a very early period; by means of which the religions of Egypt and Greece may have been partially transmitted to Gaul. To strengthen such a conjecture, Cæsar informs us, that the Druids of Gaul were acquainted with the Greek language, or at least the Greek alphabet: publicis privatisque rationibus GRÆCIS LITERIS utuntur 1."
The chief seat of the Druidical religion, however, was Britain, as the same writer assures us; to which country the young Druids of Gaul were sent for their education 2.
4. BRITANY. Connected with Gaul, if not itself a part of Gaul, is the interesting country of Britany; a country in which the ancient religion of the Celts found refuge when banished from almost every other by the Roman arms. Many vestiges of Ophiolatreia are still visible among the antiquities and customs of Britany. The
dragon and the serpent are favorite ornaments upon the walls of the churches, of which that of Landevan is a curious example; as if they had been carved by the early Christians upon the exterior of their sanctuaries, to invite the hesitating Ophite to enter the portals of a consecrated building; serpents upon the wall being the sign of consecration 1.
But whether this was really the case or not, it is certain that the first inhabitants of Britany were worshippers of the god BEL, whose name may be still recognized in that of the Christian priesthood which has succeeded to his holy places. In the Breton language the word "Priest" is rendered "Belech," which appears to be the same as the Balak of Scripture, who was the priest and king of Moab. It has been already remarked that, in the Ophite religion, it was the general custom to name the priesthood after the god of their adoration. Thus the priestess of OUB was also called Oub; the priestess of PYTHON, Pythia; the high-priest of C’NEPH, Icnuphis, &c. Balak or Belech may similarly indicate a priest of BEL-THE-DRAGON. BEL and the DRAGON are always united, and
[paragraph continues] Balak would bear this signification if, as Stukeley asserts, the ancient name of a serpent in the Celtic language was "Hak." This word is now obsolete; but an ancient casuistical writer of Britany cited by Pelletier in his dictionary of the Breton language, has the following passage:
Henvell an diaoul hac an aerouant.
i.e. "As the devil Hac the serpent."
Pelletier translates hac as if it were only the conjunction "and:" but it may be the old word "Hac," a snake, which was known to the ancient Persians, and enters into the name "Takshac," of the serpent-tribes of the mountain Tak.
General de Penhouët, in his memoir on Ophiolatreia, lately read before the Academy of Nantes, mentions a curious custom which prevailed in the bourg of Sérent in the Morbihan, before the French Revolution, which seems to have been the relic of an Ophite ceremony. This was a procession of the villagers, in which they carried a Gwiber or snake, crying as they advanced, "Let him beware who will of the Gwiber Draig 1, peace to Molac!" The tradition of the
neighbourhood stated that in former times, a monster lived in the woods adjoining, who devoured infants. He was slain by a gentleman of the place, and hence the cry, "Peace (or silence) to Molac." A Breton family still bears the name of Molac with the motto "Gric à Molac en bon espoir." M. de Penhouët thinks that the word Molac should be rather Moloc; and alludes to the heathen deity of that name to whom the idolatrous Ammonites offered their children. But he adds, that in the immediate vicinity of Sérent, where the procession was held, is a commune called Molac. I will not pretend to determine whether or not Moloch, the god of the Ammonites, ever had an altar in Britany; but it is certainly remarkable, that many Breton customs, and not a few of the idols found in the district, have a strong resemblance to those of Oriental countries. Thus a rock in the Morbihan is carved into a form exactly pourtraying the head of the Egyptian Anubis. A statue of the Syrian goddess Lilith, whose head-dress resembles that of Isis, is still standing, almost in its primitive perfection, at the chateau of Quinipili in the parish of Baud, and for many ages has furnished the pattern for the caps of
the female peasantry of the commune: while the male portion of the villagers, throughout lower Britany, wear round their loins a chequered linen sash, which they call a "turban," inducing the conjecture that they were of oriental descent, and upon adopting the customs of Europe, removed their turbans from the head to the waist, without laying aside their forms or names. Other indications of an eastern origin are strongly marked among the peasantry of Lower Britany 1. It is therefore not improbable that the Moloch of the Ammonites might also have had an altar at Sérent.
But the most indisputable memorial of the dragon," is to be found in those eternal columns which have stamped his image upon the plains of Erdeven and Carnac, and display to the eyes of admiring ages the remains of a dracontium which must once have covered a territory at least eight miles in length. The description of this temple, which was certainly one of the most stupendous in the world, I reserve for the chapter especially dedicated to the subject of DRACONTIA. Other indications of Ophiolatreia claim our attention which are better suited to
this part of our inquiry. Among these we may consider the oracle of BEL, which has left a sufficient record of its existence in the name of the parish in which it is situated, which is still called Belz or Bels, being evidently a contraction of the Roman word Belus. This spot I visited in August and September 1831, in company with General de Penhouët, a gentleman of Rennes, well known for his antiquarian knowledge and ingenious writings on the antiquities of Armorica. Among other interesting places, he directed me to the island of St. Cado, to THE ORACLE OF BEL. This is a small rectangular inclosure, about three feet in length and two in height, contained by four slabs of stone. Over it is built a chapel dedicated to St. Cado, who is said to have landed upon this spot when he came to evangelize this part of Britany. The chapel and oracle stand upon a small island in the river Estel, which is joined to the main land by a causeway. The architect of this causeway, tradition states, was no less a personage than Satan himself, who undertook to build it at the request of St. Cado, on condition that the should have the first living thing that passed over it--hoping, as the saint was the only human
being on the island, he might himself be the unlucky passenger. By the assistance of his wife, who carried many of the materials in her apron, the Devil accomplished his task in a single night: and for his reward received the next morning a cat, which the cunning saint sent over before himself. To the chapel of St. Cado, many of the devout peasants of the Morbihan resort in the faithful expectation of being miraculously cured of deafness by thrusting their heads into the consecrated hole above mentioned. The guide who conducted us was an implicit believer in the miraculous powers of the holy corner, and declared, upon putting in his head, that he distinctly heard a sound! This was mere imagination--but it is probable that the purpose to which the place was formerly devoted, namely, the oracular responses of the priestess of Bel, may have left this superstition as a feeble record of the once famous Oracle.
It is remarkable that St. Cado is said to have been the Christian missionary, who, landing upon this spot, expelled from it a colony of serpents! by which tradition I understand the conversion to Christianity, of the serpent worshippers of Belz.
Similar stories are told of other Breton saints. St. Maudet established himself in an island near Treguier which bears his name, and cleared it in like manner of serpents. A St. Paul likewise settled in the Ile de Bas, which at that time was infested by an enormous dragon. Being solicited by the people to deliver them from this monster, "he passed his stole under his neck, and plunged him into the sea;" and the place of this achievement is still pointed out as "the dragon's leap." "How are we to understand these things," ingeniously demands M. de Penhouët, "if we do not look upon them as a transparent veil through which we perceive the efficacy of baptism administered to the followers of serpent-worship, who upon their conversion were plunged into the water 1?"
It is extremely probable that these and all similar traditions relate solely to the success of the first Christian missionaries over the votaries of the serpent. But the means by which they effected this desirable change in the religion of the idolaters were perhaps more politic than scriptural; more like the founders of a temporal than a spiritual kingdom. Finding the difficulty
of a complete conversion, they were contented with a partial, and rather than not gain any converts, they sacrificed the consistency and simplicity of the Christian religion. They permitted the Ophites to retain many of their idolatrous opinions and practices even after baptism, considering, perhaps, that half a Christian was better than an entire Pagan, and hoping that though the father might be only an accommodating, the son would, in time, become a sincere believer in the Gospel. Hence we see the serpent, the emblem of consecration, carved upon the exterior of churches; such as Landevan, Dinan, and others. Hence, also, the introduction of the SUN and the SERPENT into ecclesiastical processions. But while they thus blended the old religion with the new, they endeavoured to remove scandal from the Christian congregation, by prominently exhibiting in a well-understood allegory, the triumph of Christianity over Ophiolatreia. Thus the church of Landevan, near Belz, which might have invited the Ophite to enter its gates by the serpent carved upon its exterior wall, showed the Christian, at its altar, a statue of St. Michael trampling under foot "the apostate dragon." And thus, also, the
[paragraph continues] Solar Mount of Carnac, beneath which the dragon-temple winds his course, bears on its summit a chapel of the Archangel, the destroyer of that dragon's spiritual prototype. There was, therefore, much of the serpent's subtilty in the method which undermined the serpent's kingdom.
Du Fresne, in his glossary upon the word "Draco," explains the part which was borne by the dragon in the ecclesiastical processions of the Church of Rome. "An effigy of a dragon is wont to be carried, by which is designated the devil himself, or heresy, over both of which the Church triumphs." Again, in speaking of the customs of a particular monastery, he says, "On Palm Sunday there are two processions, in which the standard and the dragon precede. Holy water and a censer without fire; a cross and dragon on a pole are borne in procession. One of the boys, however, carries a lighted candle in a lantern, that fire may be at hand in case the light which is in the dragon's mouth should be extinguished."
In these customs there are strong traces of Ophiolatreia as connected with the worship of the sun. "The fire in the dragon's mouth,"
which they were so careful to keep alive, reminds us of the holy fire so reverently cherished by the children of the sun; and "the dragon upon the pole" recalls the standard of the Ophites in every country where they reigned: while the whole ceremony may be considered as a lively representation of an Ophite procession as it advanced through the sinuous parallelitha of Carnac.
CARNAC, however, is not the only dracontium of Britany. The whole of the department of the Morbihan may be considered as the terra sancta of BEL. Fragments of serpent temples may be seen in many communes, surrounding the great dracontium of Carnac, like village churches about the cathedral of their diocese. Even the islands upon the coasts not unfrequently present some striking memorial of the same prevailing worship. An island in the Morbihan which contains the relics of a dracontium, still commemorates, by its name, its ancient dedication. It is called "the Island of the Monks," probably from having been colonized in remote ages by the Druids who officiated in the dracontium: for I believe there are no remains of any Christian monastery from which it may have derived the appellation. At the western extremity
of the dracontium is a long barrow, one end of which being broken, disclosed a very beautiful kistvaën. This spot is singularly called Penab: i.e. "the head of AB:" and as there is no vestige of a house upon the site so designated, the name of Penab must have belonged to the temple, and indicated that part of it which, like the "Hakpen" of Abury, was the "serpent's head."
A more minute examination of the antiquities of Britany, assisted by a knowledge of the Breton language, would throw much light upon the ancient religion of that interesting country, which I cannot but think, was, at the least, a modification of that Ophiolatreia which, in almost every region of the world, had its altars, its dragon temples, and its human victims 1.
A longer stay in Britany might have enabled me to bring forward many more proofs of its aboriginal worship of the serpent: but the temple of Carnac, which I shall describe in a subsequent chapter, will abundantly establish the argument
which I have undertaken. This temple I have minutely and thoroughly investigated; and the plan published, both in the Archæologia, and in this volume (in which a restoration has been attempted,) will convince any but those against whose previously expressed theories it may militate, that it was truly a DRACONTIUM--a temple of the SOLAR SERPENT.
183:1 Faber approves this derivation.--Cabiri, vol. i. 180.
183:2 The first inhabitants of Europe are said to have been the offspring of a woman, partly of the human, and partly of the dracontic figure, a tradition which alludes to their Ophite origin.
185:1 Anal. ii. 206.
186:1 Allwood, Lit. Antiq. of Greece, p. 259, derives the name Cecrops from Ca-cur-ups, "The Temple of the Supreme p. 187 OPS." Ca-cur-ops, with the use of the Attic dialect, and by contraction would become Ce-c’r-ops. From the temple he thinks originated the legend of Cecrops, through the common transmutation of temples into deities, in mythological history.
187:1 Bryant, ii. 210, citing Apollodorus.
187:2 Ibid. p. 211, citing Eustathius.
187:3 Macrob. Saturnal. lib. i. c, x. p. 162.
188:1 Apolog. lib. i. p. 60.
188:2 Some of the ancient fathers supposed that the word ευια was an ejaculation of the name EVE; and (the serpent being simultaneously held up) that the whole of the orgies were a celebration of the fall of the first woman.
188:3 Apud. Euseb. P. E. 64.
188:4 Ibid. 62.
188:5 Clemens Alex. cited by Castellan, aped Gronov. 643.
189:1 No. 4. room ix. Egypt. Antiq. in the British Museum.
189:2 viii. 41.
189:3 See "Ophiolatreia in Egypt."
190:1 Philostratus, Vita Apollon. l. viii. c. 15.
191:1 Beauford in Vallancey's Collectan. de reb. Hibern. vol. ii. p. 174.
191:2 Strabo, lib. vi. Pausan. lib. 10. Pindar, Pyth. Ode iv. and vi.
192:1 Pausan. lib. ii. p. 109.
192:2 Lib. v. s. 70.
192:3 Anal. i. 307.
194:1 Archæol. Græc. ii. 383. 9th Edit.
194:2 Montfaucon, i. 164.
195:1 Nicol de ritu Bacch. apud Gronov. vii. 186.
196:1 Gesner, Hist. Anim. lib. v. p. 84.
197:1 Xiphilin. Rom. Hist. Script. iii. 358.
197:2 Pausan. lib. viii. p. 531. Edit. Hanoviæ 1613.
198:1 Paus. lib. ix. p. 593.
198:2 Virgil, viii. 435.
198:3 Montfaucon, i, 88.
198:4 Paus. lib. v. 304.
199:1 Montf. i. 88.
200:1 Alcmaon also, who was present at this siege, was distinguished by the cognizance of a serpent upon his shield.--Pindar Pythia, 8.
201:1 See ch. i. "Ophiolatreia in Persia." Plate.
201:2 Bryant, Anal. ii. 212.
201:3 Homer, Iliad, A. 38.
202:1 Paus. lib. ii. 106.
202:2 Pausan. lib. ii. 136.
202:3 Montf. i. 180.
202:4 Ibid. 181.
203:1 It must be confessed, however, that this notion made a very strong impression upon antiquity--for "to eat snakes" became a proverb, denoting a man's feeding on what renewed his vigour.
204:1 Paus. lib. ii. 103.
207:1 Pausan. lib. iv. 243.
208:1 Vol. i.
208:2 Anal. ii. 465, citing Pausanias.
208:3 Hesiod, cited by Stukeley, Abury, 69.
209:1 Hoffman, Lexicon.
209:2 Fab. 140.
210:1 Var. Hist. lib. iii. c, 1.
210:2 De defectu Orac. i. 417.
210:3 Bryant, ii. 147. The same is intimated by Hyginus (Introd. Fab.) when he calls Python, "Draco divinus."
210:4 Euseb. P. E. 72.
210:5 Stukeley, Abury, 69, citing Proleg. to Pindar. Pyth.
211:1 ix. 81.
211:2 Lib. x. p. 633.
212:1 Montf. ii. 86.
212:2 Decline and Fall of the Rom. Emp. iii. 21.
212:3 See Gibbon's note.
213:1 Annales Turcici, s. 130.
214:1 Montf. ii. 86.
214:2 De Astrolog. cited by Bulenger de Orac. apud Gronov. vii. 15.
214:3 The words of Lucian are, "At Delphi a virgin delivers the oracle, being a symbol of the constellation VIRGO; and a dragon speaks from under the tripod, because the constellation DRACO appears among the stars." (De Astrolog. p. 544, Edit. Paris, 1615.) This extract from Lucian connects the mythological with the actual serpent-worship at Delphi, identifying the serpent Python, with the polar dragon--the Δράκοντα ἀποστάτην of the Septuagint. For the p. 215 reason assigned by Lucian, we see a caduceus in the hand of the personified constellation Virgo, in Hygin. Poet. Astron.
215:1 Bulenger, ut supra.
215:2 Potter, Archæol. Græc. ii. 283.
215:3 Bryant, i. 257.
216:1 Bryant, i. 256.
216:2 See Pausanias in loc.
217:1 Page 602. Edit. Hanoviæ, 1613.
218:1 Bryant, ii. 162.
220:1 Bulenger de Orac. apud Gronov. vii. 44.
220:2 Alexander, 665.
220:3 Lucian's Alexander the Impostor.
222:1 Allwood, Lit. Antiq. of Greece, p. 182, and Faber, Cabiri, ii. p. 212.
222:2 Paus. 469.
222:3 Paus. 208.
222:4 Thebaid, v. p. 239, Edit. Paris, 1618.
223:1 ii. 185, also i. 117.
224:1 Bryant, Anal. ii. 215.
224:2 Spanheim, 212.
224:3 Strabo, 657.
224:4 Ibid. 746.
225:1 See article on the CADUCEUS in the preceding chapter.
226:1 Gesner, Hist. Anim. lib. v. p. 59.
227:1 Inscript. Antiq. p. 61, &c.
228:1 Dickinson, Delph. Phœnic.
229:1 Homer, Iliad, β. 308, &c.
229:2 Hist. Anim. lib. xi. 2.
231:1 Lucian. Alexander Pseudomant.
231:2 Spanheim, 221.
231:3 Alex. 665.
232:1 Bryant, Anal. i. 122.
232:2 The first syllable may possibly be "ca" or "ga," illustrious. (Faber on the Cabiri, i. p. 28; who does not, however, apply any other meaning to the word "cabiri" than "the mighty ones.") In this case "cabiri" would be "the illustrious ABIRI."
233:1 "Abury, so called from being dedicated to the Abiri, who were the same us the Cabiri." Faber on the Cabiri, i. 210.
234:1 Faber, Pagan Idol. i. 453.
235:1 Page 221.
236:1 Cited by Bryant, ii. 214.
236:3 Bryant, Anal. ii. 216.
236:4 Archæol. vol. xxiii.
237:1 Ennii Vita, xv.
237:3 Salmasius, Not. in Jul. Capitol. Hist. August. Script. 95.
237:4 See Description in Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xv.
239:1 Var. Hist. lib. ix. 16.
240:1 Eleg. viii. lib. 4.
240:2 Spanheim 212.
240:3 Suppl. vol. i. 162.
241:1 Val. Max. lib. i. c. 6.
241:2 Cicero de Divin. lib. i.
242:1 Phormio, Act. iv. seen. 4, 24.
243:1 See Bryant on the Amazonians and Hyperboreans, Anal. vol. v. These were the same people.
243:2 Herod. lib. iv. c. 35.
243:3 Cabiri, i. 208.
243:4 Anal. ii. 206.
244:1 Not. in Minuc. Fel. p. 267.
244:2 The story of Abaris, the Hyperboreans, who made the Palladium of Troy from the bones of Pelops, is that of an Ophite priest. Abaris is probably a compound of AB, and AUR.
245:1 Ouzel, ut supra, citing Sigismund Liber. Comment. in Muscov.
245:2 Ouzel, ut supra.
246:1 De reb. Polon. lib. iii, p. 43.
247:1 De Diis German. c. 29.
247:2 Mosheim, Ecc. Hist. ii. 449.
247:3 Koch, c. 39, citing Trot. Arnkiel. Cymbrische Heiden. Rel. p. 123.
248:1 Hist. Gent. Septentrion. lib. xxi. c. 48.
248:2 Cited by Koch, 39.
249:1 Perhaps Tonder in the Duchy of Sleswick.
251:1 Page 50.
252:1 Milk was frequently offered in libations to the heathen gods *. Apollo had for one of his titles Galaxius, "the milky." A festival called Galaxia was held to him, in which the votaries partook of a feast of barley pulse, boiled in milk. Quære--might not the Romish practice of eating frumenty in Lent have arisen from this custom?
252:2 Koch, citing Olaus Magnus, lib. ii. c. 24; and Hartnochius de reb. Pruss.
252:* Potter. Arch. Græc. i. 213; and ii. 236.
253:1 Milner, Hist. of the Church, iii. 113.
253:2 "Et penitus tote divisos orbe Britannos."--Virg.
253:3 "Britannos hospitibus feros."--Hor.
254:1 Davies' Mythol. of the Druids, p. 116.
254:2 Ibid. p. 122.
254:3 Ibid. p.210.
255:1 Cæsar. Comment. de Bello Gallico, lib. v. c. 17.
256:1 Owen's Dict. Art. Draig.
257:1 Ovid. Amor. lib. ii. Eleg. 13.
258:1 This horn, now a drinking cup, is said to have been originally a musical instrument: but it will still illustrate my theory, for horns are supposed to have been used by the Scalds or Runic priests to call together the congregation to sacrifice. Such horns would probably bear upon them devices appertaining to their religion. Horns were sometimes used for both purposes, being furnished with a cap, and so convertible into drinking cups *. The "golden horns which contained the drink offerings" above described, might thus have been used also as sacrificial trumpets.
258:* Pegge on Charter Horns. Archæol. v. 3.
259:1 The scene of these rites might have been STONEHENGE, which is said by tradition to have been erected in honour of Uther Pendragon. The only difficulty in this conjecture is the mention of "lakes" near the temple. But an attentive survey of the spot has convinced me that a piece of water p. 260 once existed under the hill upon which Stonehenge stands. On the side towards Amesbury there are evident traces of the bed of a river running north and south. Perhaps, by means of this winding water, the stupendous stones which form the temple were conveyed on rafts to the spot of their erection. That such means of conveyance were used by the Druids, appears from the fact that a large stone, in every respect like those at Stonehenge, now lies in the river Avon at Bulford, not far from hence. It would be an interesting research to trace the course of this apparent river-bed, and might throw much light on the disputed question--"whence, and how came these stones to Stonehenge?" I believe that they came from the valley of the Grey Wethers, near Abury.
260:1 Davies' Myth. of the Brit. Druids, Appendix, No. 11.
261:1 Thoresby's Correspondence, i. 413.
263:1 Borlase, Antiq. of Cornwall, 137.
263:2 Davies' Myth. of Druids, 211.
264:1 Morton, Nat. Hist. of North. c. x.
265:1 Gesner. Hist. Anim. lib. iii. p. 85.
265:2 Hist. Gent. Septent. lib. xxi. c. 48.
265:3 See Ohms Wormius, de Mon. Danor.
268:1 Pinkerton, Lit. Corresp. ii. 426.
270:1 Du Fresne.
271:1 Vallancey, Collect. de reb. Hibern. vol. ii. 174.
272:1 See infra, "Britany."
273:1 Vossius in Cæsar. Comment. lib. vi. p. 223.
273:2 Faber, Pagan Idol. ii. 362.
273:3 Ibid. 365.
274:1 Gen. iii. 17, 18.
275:1 De Bello Gall. lib. vi. s. 16.
276:1 Cradock's Literary Memoirs, ii. 163. The Ophite hierogram also has been recognized in Gaul. A sculpture of the circle, wings, and two serpents, exhibiting a Medusa's face, was found by Simeoni in the sixteenth century, at Clermont, in Auvergne.--Marcel, Hist. des Gaules.
276:2 Suppl. to vol. ii. 249.
278:1 Comm. lib. vi. s. xiv. p. 219.
278:2 Lib. vi, p. 218.
279:1 Persius, Sat. i. i 13.
280:1 Gwiber Draig; i.e. serpent-dragon.
282:1 See Penhouët Archéol. Armoric. passim.
285:1 Arch. Armoric.
289:1 For a description of the sacrificial altar of the temple of Carnac, and for proofs of the barbarous custom of human sacrifices in Britany, I beg to refer the reader to my paper on Dracontia, in the 25th vol. of the Archæologia.
Next: Chapter IV. Serpent-Worship in America