網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

first arrival sat * down. In short, there is in the history of every oracular temple some legend about a stone; some reference to the word Petra. To clear this up, it is necessary to observe, that when the worship of the Sun was almost universal, this was one name of that Deity even among the Greeks. They called him Petor, and Petros; and his temple was styled Petra.' This they oftentimes changed to a.bos; so little did they understand their own mythology. There were however some writers, who mentioned it as the name of the Sun, and were not totally ignorant of its meaning. This we may learn from the Scholiast upon Pindar. 18 Περι δε τα Ήλιε οι φυσικοι φασιν, ως λιθος καλείται και Ηλιος. Και Αναξαγορε γενομενον Ευριπιδην μαθητης, Πετρον ειρηκέναι τον Ήλιον δια των προκειμένων.

[ocr errors]

The same Scholiast quotes a similar passage from the same writer, where the Sun is called Petra.

21 Pausanias. 1. 10. p. 825.
22 Pindar. Olyinp. Ode 1.-p. 8.

AXVVKTi ^U(T£«»J IpSfOpiVKV.

If then the name of the Sun, and of his temples, was among the antient Grecians Petros, and Petra; we may easily account for that word so often occurring in the accounts of his worship. The Scholia above will moreover lead us to discover whence the strange notion arose about the famous Anaxagoras of Clazomenas; who is said to have prophesied, that a stone would fall from the Sun. All that he had averred, may be seen in the relation of the Scholiast above: which amounts only to this, that Petros was a name of the Sun. It was a word of Egyptian original, derived from Petor, the same as Ham, the Iamus of the antient Greeks. This Petros some of his countrymen understood^ in a different sense; and gave out, that he had foretold a stone would drop from the Sun. Some were idle enough to think that it was accomplished: and in consequence of it pretended to shew at JEgospotamos the very i4 stone, which was said to have fallen. The like story was told

"Scholia in Pindar. Olymp. Ode 1. p. 8.
44 Diogenes Laertius: Vita Anasagorse.

ISU

of a stone at Abydus upon the Hellespont: and Anaxagoras was here too supposed to have been the prophet 26. In Abydi gymnasio ex eâ causâ colitur hodieque modicus quidem (lapis), sed quem in medio terrarum casurum Anaxagoras prædixisse narratur. The temples, or Petra here mentioned, were Omphalian, or Oracular : bence they were by a common mistake supposed to have been in the centre of the habitable globe. They were also HroECTO. Ietpar: which Elibatos ,the Greeks derived froin barvw descendo; and on this account the Petra were thought to have fallen from the 27 Sun. We may by this clue unravel the mysterious story of Tantalus; and account for the punishment which he was doomed to undergo.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Underwent a cruel reverse.
He was doom'd to sit under a huge stone,

Which the father of the Gods
Kept over his head suspended.

Thus he sat
In continual dread of its downfal,

And lost to every comfort.

It is said of Tantalus by some, that he was set up to his chin in water, with every kind of fruit within reach: yet hungry as he was and thirsty, he could never attain to what he wanted; every thing which he caught at eluding his efforts. But from the account given above by 29 Pindar, as well as by 30 Alcæus; Alcman, and other writers, his punishment consisted in having a stone hanging over his head; which kept him in perpetual fear. What is styled a fos, was I make no doubt originally Petros; which has been misinterpreted a stone. Tantalus 1stermed by Euripides ακολασος την γλωσσαν, a man of an ungovernable tongue: and his history at bottom relates to a person who revealed the mysteries in which he had been 31 initiated.. The Scho

[ocr errors]

* Ilive deyes to topsvua, xas ogyra pardave oyns. Antholog.

liast upon Lycophron describes him in this light; and mentions him as a priest, who out of good nature divulged some secrets of his cloister; and was upon that account ejected from the society”. Ο Τανταλος ευσεβής και θεοσεπτως ην Ιερευς, και φιλανθρωπια τα των θεων μυστηρια τους αμυήτοις ύσερον ειπων,

Esbanen 78 ispg katahoyx. The mysteries which he revealed, were those of Osiris, the Sun: the Petor, and Petora of Egypt. He never afterwards could behold the Sun in its meridian, but it put him in mind of his crime: and he was afraid that the vengeance of the God would overwbelm him. This Deity, the Petor, and Petora of the Amonians, being by the later Greeks expressed Petros, and Petra, gave rise to the fable above about the stone of Tantalus. To this solution the same Scholiast upon Pindar bears witness, by informing us, 33 that the Sun was of old called a stone: and that some writers understood the story of Tantalus in this light; intimating that it was the Sun, which hung over his head to his perpetual terror. 34 Eνιοι ακεεσι τον λιθον επι το ηλιέ-και επηωρεισθαι αυτο (Tartans) Tov manov, up’ w despatstban, xat X&TATTNOTEIV. And again, llego de T8 “nux ós quoixou deyxriv, ws 10605

32 Scholia npon Lycophron. v. 152.
33 Scholia upou Pindar, Olymp. Ode !. p. 8.
34 Pindar. Scholia. Ibidem.

« 上一頁繼續 »