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Euhemerism might have saved him from infecting heroic saga with too much ritualistic interpretation.
A second predilection of the author in his speculations on the evolution of deities is towards the theory that the anthropomorphic god was evolved' from a previously divine animal or divine plant. From his occasional statements the hasty reader, as was hinted above, might imagine that our race in its religious development has passed through the distinct stages of phytomorphism,
theriomorphism' (the direct worship of plants and animals), and finally—if it is final—'anthropomorphism,' the worship of humanly conceived and human-shaped divinities; in fact, we might as well coin another ugly word, 'lithomorphism,' for the direct worship of stones and rocks, and call this another stage' in religion. This 'stratification' theory has led many rash students astray. No age purely theriomorphic, no all-prevalent worship of mere animals without the human conception present at the same time, has as yet been shown to exist. As has already been said, our author has warned us against this pseudo-scientific theory of our religious development. The following passage in Part v (Vol. 1, p. 22)—the advance of thought tends to strip the old animal and plant gods of their bestial and vegetable husk and to leave their human attributes (which are always the kernel of the conception) as the final and sole residuum' -well expresses a true induction from our evidence. The theriomorphic does not necessarily precede the anthropomorphic conception; both may be working simultaneously. . In fact, at times, the former may be subsequent to the latter; a real man has been worshipped after his death as incarnate in the crocodile, and Zeus the Aryan sky-god might be imagined vaguely in his earliest period as a superman in the sky, and much later, for casual and temporary reasons, might become incarnate in a bull. Yet, after the excellent sentence just quoted, Sir James can speak of the animals and plants which at first were the deities themselves'-a less careful and vaguer phrase, sure to provoke the same misunderstanding. And he cherishes the desire, often quite illusory, to discover the previous animal from which the high humanly-conceived deity was evolved.' His conjecture (Iv, 1, p. 88, note) that 'the Furies themselves may, like Æsculapius, have been
developed out of the reptiles,' is unlucky and suggests no careful study of either the Erinyes or Asclepios; why not as well conjecture that the latter was a real man-doctor like the Egyptian physician-god, and that his snake was merely the usual incarnation of the dead spirit ?
In another place (Part v, 1, p. 23) he gives us a criterion for discovering the animal which produced the anthropomorphic deity; wherever a deity is described as the eater of a particular animal, the animal in question was originally nothing but the deity himself.' This is only put forward as a conjecture; it rests on the assumption of Robertson Smith that all sacrifice was once a sacrament, the eating of a deity, which no one now believes. An anthropomorphic deity is naturally supposed to eat what men eat. Our author would not have commended this conjecture as giving us a general criterion, had he studied more deeply the ritual and religion of the Mediterranean. Wherever in these volumes he speaks of the 'worship’-a word often uncritically used-of animals, and of their relations to higher deities, we find no recognition or consciousness of the truth, which is so important for the right understanding of Mediterranean religion, that the sanctity of an animal may be only temporary, not possessed by it in its own right, but coming to it solely through contact with an altar impregnated with the spirit of a humanly-conceived god.
Finally, in this connexion, the reader should carefully note the evidence collected in Part v, 2, pp. 169-293, on the veneration and propitiation of animals. The account is interesting and valuable ; but none of the numerous examples show us the evolution of any high god from the animal; in many cases the high gods are seen in the background as altogether distinct from the animals; even the revered tiger of the Battas of Sumatra is not grouped with the gods.
His sociological theories concerning the origin of certain social and religious institutions remain to be briefly considered. In this last edition he does not put forward any new theory of importance, but restates what his earlier editions had made familiar to us, adding some new evidence and considering some objections that his critics had raised. The real value of his work in this direction lies in his untiring exposition and colligation
of the facts reported from existing primitive societies; and, if we take him at his word that he cares little for theories, he will be content with our gratitude to him for this excellent service. But he is prone to indulge himself in fanciful reconstructions of the great societies that at last emerged into the culture of the historic period; and here we cannot help feeling too often that his historic imagination is whimsical, his critical sense deficient, his judgment of the archæological and anthropological evidence undisciplined. We know that mythology reflects prevailing social institutions of the present or past; and therefore an ancient mythology may give us valuable anthropological testimony of ancient social customs. But it requires tact and caution for its interpretation, since it often reflects the abnormal and eccentric, certain startling breaches of the social custom. We rub our eyes, then, when we read our author's serious conjecture that the story of Edipus, Laios and Jocasta reflects the social custom of the son murdering his father and marrying his mother (III, p. 193, n.). It will be time to consider such a conjecture when we find such a marriagecustom prevalent in any actual or recorded society. Meantime, we may feel that we have as much right to conjecture that the story of Hamlet reflects a Danish custom of all nephews killing their uncles.
A striking feature of many societies, usually in the primitive stage, is 'mother-kin' or the rule that kinship is counted through the female. Since McLennan's works on primitive marriage, the subject has been a leading topic of modern anthropology, and in
in unscientific hands has been debased by being perverted to the party purposes of the Women's Suffrage cause. Our author is happily free from any such vice; and he is well aware that mother-kin very rarely carries with it 'matriarchy' or the power of the female. But he devotes himself with zest to the discovery of the mother-kin system in ancient societies where it had not been recorded or hitherto suspected, for instance, in Greece and Rome and other Aryan communities. His evidence is partly the interpretation of myths, and his manner of interpretation is again unconvincing ; for instance, he interprets the many Greek myths of the wandering hero-adventurer winning a kingdom by marrying the native king's
daughter as evidence of mother-kin in the royal line, the crown descending through the female (1, 2, pp. 278-280). Such stories may rather be thought to reflect the migrations and conquests of tribes; to conciliate the conquered people the successful invader unites himself with the old dynasty by a marriage. Such is the story of Hengist; such is the record concerning Canute; such was the claim of William the Conqueror. We know that myths can be valuable evidence of ancient society; but they never ought to be interpreted in direct contradiction with a definite historic record. Our author regards certain Lydian myths about Omphale as indication of motherkin in the royal family and the inheritance of royalty through the female. This is in flat contradiction to the absolute statement in Herodotus that for twenty-two generations from Herakles down to Kandaules the kingship in Lydia descended in a direct line from father to son, all the Herakleidai being lineally descended from Herakles and a slave-girl (1, 7). Our author, therefore, conjectures' that Herodotus is wrong (Part 1, 2, p. 282); but such a conjecture impairs his own reputation as a judge of evidence.
The whole question of Mediterranean mother-kin still needs to be reconsidered by a thoroughly trained and unbiassed scholar. It becomes even a religious question ; for many writers, even many scholars, still believe that it is connected with and explains the predominance of the goddess. Our author holds this opinion himself without much consideration of the adverse arguments that have been urged; he is only able to adduce one positive and clear example, namely, from Assam (iv, 2, p. 202). But suppose we accept his anthropological formula (one not wholly true), which is worded thus the divine society portrayed in myths reflects the society of the worshippers'; suppose it is the case, as he maintains and as the evidence proclaims, that in the societies based on mother-kin the power is still in the hands of the king or the chief or at least the men ; we must then conclude that a society based on mother-kin will usually reflect itself on the heavens in the form of the predominance of the god. The prominence of the goddess then, as in prehistoric Crete, must be due to some other cause. And other causes have been suggested.
The sociological theory that is most prominent in the whole treatise is his view of the origin of the monarchy and of the social religious rite of the slaying of the divine king. With his usual initial reasonableness he admits that kingship may have had many origins. But his thesis that the king was often 'evolved' from the magician and in early days was a divine weather-charmer or vegetation-priest, whose periodic slaying was a necessary refresher of the earth, is very dear to his heart, and with all his industry and ingenuity he labours to discover traces of it all over the world. He has not convinced us that such was its origin in the higher societies of history, in Greece, Rome, Palestine or the Teutonic North. His arguments are too often frail and forced, his evidence, as that, for instance, drawn from the consecration of sacred women to the Anatolian Goddess, too often irrelevant. It is more serious that he should condemn and pervert the evidence where it is wholly against him, as he does with the Biblical testimony concerning the origin and character of the monarchy in Israel (IV, 1, pp. 18–25).
But those who steadily and critically read these volumes to the end will not close the page with a feeling of disapprobation. They may miss in Sir James Frazer the severity of trenchant logic, the self-restraint that rejects the irrelevant, the finesse of the critical sense. But these faults are the defects of his other qualities, which themselves are near to greatness. Even if the colossal work had no other value save as an unique collection of the raw material of primitive life, the value will endure and will shed lustre on the writer, who deserves the congratulation of friends and critics upon the accomplishment of such a task.
LEWIS R. FARNELL.