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a popular view of the same mythos upon which the Platonists have expended so much commentary—the history of the Cretan Bacchus or Zagreus. In Sweden, the story of Hero and Leander has become localized, and forms the subject of an interesting national ballad; the fate of Midas is to be found incorporated as an undoubted point of Irish history 149; and the treasury of Rhampsinitus has passed from Egypt to Greece, and from Mycenæ to Venice 150. The youthful history of Theseus bears a strong resemblance to many parts of Sir Degoré; the white and black sails, the emblems of his success or failure, are attached to the history of Tristram and fair Ysoude; the ball of silk given him by Ariadne, has passed into the hands of the Russian witch Jaga-Baba; and the heroic feat which was to establish the proof of his descent, has been inserted in the lives of Arthur, and the Northern Sigurdr151
. The talis
and is forthwith murdered. The dis- 17); and another, the Persea, was the membered body is now placed in a ket- sacred plant of Isis, so conspicuous on tle, for the repast of his destroyers; but Egyptian monuments. (For this interthe vapour ascending to heaven, the pretation of the Persea, see S. de Sacy's deed is detected, and the perpetrators Abd-allatif Relation de l'Egypte, p. 47struck dead by the lightning of Jove. 72, and the Christian and Mahommedan Apollo collects the bones of his deceas- fictions there cited.) This story of dressed brother, and buries them at Delphi, ing and eating a child is historically rewhere the palingenesy of Bacchus was lated of Atreus, Tantalus, Procne, Harcelebrated periodically by the Hosii and palice (Hyginus ed. Staveren, 206), and Thyades. (Compare Clemens Alex. Astyages (Herod. i. 119); and is obviProtrept. p. 15. ed. Potter ; Nonnus ously a piece of traditional scandal borDionys. vi. 174, &c. and Plutarch de rowed from ancient mythology. The Isid. et Osirid. c. 35. et De Esu Car- Platonistic exposition of it will be found nium, i. c. vii.) But this again is only in Mr. Taylor's tract upon the Bacchic another version of the Egyptian mythos Mysteries, (Pamphleteer, No. 15.) relative to Osiris, which will supply us 149 Keating's Hist. of Ireland, as cited with the chest, the tree, the sisterly af. by MM. Grimm, iii. 391. fection, and perhaps the bird (though the Compare Herod, ii. c. 12). Schol. last may be explained on other grounds). in Aristoph. Nub. 508. and the notes (Plut. de Isid. &c. c. 13. et seqq.) Mr. to Childe Harold, canto iv. Grimm wishes to consider the “ Ma 151 Compare Plutarch's Life of Thechandel-Boom” the juniper-tree; and seus with Sir Degoré, as published in not the “ Mandel,” or almond-tree. It the “Select Pieces of Early Popular will be remembered, that the latter was Poetry ;” Scott's Sir Tristram, p. 199 ; believed by the ancient world to possess Prince Wladimir and his Round Table, very important properties. The fruit a collection of early Russian Heroic of one species, the Amygdala, impreg- Songs, Leipzig 1819, 8vo. as cited by nated the daughter of the river Sanga- Mone 130; the Morte Arthur, P. I.c. 4; rius with the Phrygian Attys (Paus. vii, and the Volsunga Saga, Müller, p. 31.
man of Meleager" Althæa's firebrand”—has been conferred upon the aged Norna-Gest, a follower of king Olaf 152; the artifice of Jack the Giant-killer, in throwing a stone among his enemies, occurs in the histories of Cadmus and Jason 153 ; and the perilous labour of Alcmene is circumstantially related in the Scottish ballad of Willie's Lady 154. Among the marvellous tales with which the traveller Pytheas chose to enliven the narrative of his voyage, at the risk of sacrificing his character for discernment and veracity, the following has been preserved by the Scholiast to Apollonius Rhodius. “Vulcan
appears have taken up his abode in the islands of Lipara and Strongyle......and it was formerly said, that whoever chose to carry there a piece of unwrought iron, and at the same time deposited the value of the labour, might on the following morning come and have a sword, or whatever else he wished, for it 155.” This fiction has a double claim upon our attention, both from the manner in which it became localized at a very early period in England, and from the interest it has recently excited, by its reception into one of those unrivalled produc
159 Apollod. Biblioth. i. c. 8. 1. “At to have held a similar opinion relative length Gest told them the reason of his to Galinthias, whom they considered being called Norna-Gest. Three Völar a ministrant of Hecate, and to whom the cast his nativity; the two first spaeed first sacrifice was performed during the every thing that was good, but the last festival of Hercules. (Anton. Lib. c. 29.) became displeased, and said the child They were hence reputed to worship a should not live longer than the candle weasel (Ælian. Hist. Nat. xii. v.), an lasted which was then burning. Upon animal of an exceedingly ominous chathis the two Völar seized the light, and racter in the ancient world. (Theophrabade his mother preserve it, saying, it stus Charact. 17.) In the reputed house was not to be lighted till the day of his of Amphitryon, Pausanias (ix. 11.) saw death.” Norna-Gest's Saga, Müller 115. a relievo representing the Sorceresses Gest was more fortunate in his family (Pharmacides) sent by Juno to obstruct connexions than the Grecian hero; for Alcmene's labour. According to him on the day king Olaf recommended him (and he gathered the account at Thebes), to try the experiment of lighting the they were defeated by Historis, a daughcandle, he was 300 years old. Ib. ter of Tiresias; which again confirms
163 Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. iii. 1178. the analogy between the ancient and
154 Minstrelsy of the Border,vol. ii. Sir modern fiction, for Tiresias and his Walter Scott has observed, that the billie- family move in Theban story with all blind, who detects the mother's charm in the importance of tutelary divinities. this ballad, was a species of domestic spi 155 Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. iv. 761. rit or Brownie. The Thebans appear
tions, which have given a new character to the literature of the day. In a letter written by Francis Wise to Dr. Mead, s concerning some antiquities in Berkshire, particularly the White Horse," an account is given of a remarkable pile of stones, to which the following notice is attached : “ All the account which the country people are able to give of it is: At this place lived formerly an invisible smith; and if a traveller's horse had left a shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to bring the horse to this place with a piece of money, and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again, and find the money gone, but the horse new shoed. The stones standing upon the Rudgeway, as it is called, I suppose gave occasion to the whole being called Wayland-Smith ; which is the name it was always known by, to the country-people.” The reader will have no difficulty in detecting here the previous recital of Pytheas, or in recognising in this simple tradition the germ of a more recent fiction, as it has been unfolded in the novel of Kenilworth. But he may not be equally aware, that the personage whose abilities it has so unostentatiously transmitted, is a very important character in early Northern poetry; and that the fame of “WaylandSmith,” though less widely extended than it now promises to become, was once the theme of general admiration, from the banks of the Bosphorus 156 to the Atlantic and Frozen oceans. The first historical song in the Edda of Sæmund--if it be lawful to give this name to a composition containing such a strong admixture of mythological matter—is devoted to the fortunes of a celebrated smith called Völundr. The Vilkina-Saga, a production of the fourteenth century, enters more fully into his
135 In the Vilkina-Saga he is called the Northern portion of this body-guard Velent: but the author adds, he bore the amounted to 300, according to the Flatæ name of Völundr among the Varingar. Codex, c. 507-8, which makes a distincThese Bagéyyou were mercenaries in the tion between them and the French and service of the Greek emperors. See Flemings in the Imperial service. MülAnna Comn., Codrin., &c. and Ducangeler 149. v. Barangii. In the eleventh century,
history; and he is spoken of by various writers between the ninth and fourteenth centuries 157 as the fabricator of every curious weapon, or unusual piece of art. In the outline of his story there is a very strong analogy with the events that shine so marvellously in the life of Dædalus. The flight of Völundr from his native country, like that of the Athenian artist, is attributed to an act of violence upon the persons of two rival craftsmen. His first reception at the court of Nidung is attended by every demonstration of kindness and attention; but an accidental offence occasions the seizure and mutilation of his person, and he is compelled to labour incessantly in the duties of the forge for his tyrannical host. The double cruelties inflicted on him, in the loss of liberty and his bodily injuries, inspire him with sentiments of revenge: the infant sons of his persecutor fall the victims of his artifice; their sister is seduced and publicly disgraced; and the triumphant artist, having attached wings to his person, takes his way through the air to seek a more friendly employer 158 It is not a little remarkable, that the only term in the Icelandic language to designate a labyrinth is Völundar-hus--a Weland's house 159.
157 Some of these have been already was living in 1159,) p. 252. See also noticed. (See Alfred's Boethius, and the romance of Horn-child and Maiden the poem of Beowulf, and note Y p. liv. Riminild, in Ritson's Met. Rom. vol. iii. below.) The following may be added p. 295. from Müller's Saga-Bibliothek : “ Et 188 These circumstances are taken from nisi duratis Vuelandia fabrica giris ob- the recital given in the Vilkina-Saga.
,” from a Latin poem of the (Müller 154.) The Eddaic song makes ninth century, entitled “De prima Ex no mention of Völundr’s flight to the peditione Attilæ regis Hunnorum in court of Nithuthur (Nidung), nor of Gallia, ac de rebus gestis Waltharii his killing his instructors the Dwarfs : Aquitanorum principis.” Lipsiæ 1780. a deed of mere self-defence according to In Labbe's Bibliotheca MSS. Nova, the Vilkina-Saga, since, his rapid imtom. ii., the following notice occurs : provement having excited their envy, “Gillermus Sector Ferri hoc nomen sor- they were devising a plan for destroying titus est, quia cum Normannis confligens him. venire solito conflictu deluctans, ense 159 The name of Völundr became a gecorto vel scorto durissimo, quem Va- neral name in the North for any distinlandus faber condiderat, per medium cor- guished artist, whether working in stone pus loricatum secavit una percussione.” or iron. The same may be said of DædaHistoria Pontificum et Comitum Engo- lus in Greece (dridárney, daidanc), whose lismensium incerto auctore, (but who labours are found to run through a
The resemblances here detailed are obviously too intimate to have been the result of accident, or a common development of circumstances possessing some general affinity. The majority, on investigation, will be found to have been derived, however indirectly, from sources of classical antiquity; and their existence in this dismembered state forcibly illustrates a remark of Mr. Campbell's, which is equally distinguished for its truth and beauty: “that fiction travels on still lighter wings [than science), and scatters the seeds of her wild flowers imperceptibly over the world, till they surprise us by springing up with similarity, in regions the most remotely divided 160." But while these resemblances tend to establish the fact, that popular fiction is in its nature traditiveld, they necessarily direct our attention to another important question—the degree of antiquity to be ascribed to the great national fables relative to Arthur, Theoderic, and Charlemagne. It will be almost, needless to remark, that the admixture of genuine occurrences in all these romances, is so disproportionate to the fictitious materials by which it is surrounded, that without the influence of particular names, and the locality given to the action, we should never connect the events detailed with
personages of authentic history. The deeds ascribed to Charlemagne, by a mere change of scene, become as “germane” to the life of the most illustrious of the Gothic kings as any of the circumstances advanced in his own veracious Vilkina-Saga. A similar
succession of ages; and who, in addi- fully substantiated: šv farti púbo na sò tion to his numerous inventions, con saidán ou mūros. Suidas, i. p. 752. structed such enormous works in Egypt, 160 Essay on English Poetry, p. 30. Sicily and Crete. In the foriner coun- To this may be added the doctrine of try he received divine honours (Diod. an ancient aphorism cited by DemoSic. i. p. 109.); the mythologic cha- sthenes (De falsa legatione):
[πολλοί racter of Volundr is clear from the φήμη δ' ού τις πάμπαν απόλλυται, ήντινα Edda ; and Pratorius speaks of Spirits Λαοί φημίζωσι: θεός να τις έστι και αυτή. Volands and Water-Nixen as synony
If we allow the daughter 161 Suppose we on things traditive divide, of Nidung to take the place of Pasi And both appeal to Scripture to dephäe, the Athenian proverb will be cide. -DRYDEN.