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regenerated world. At Orchomenus, we learn from Dr. Clarke that the children wear small stones about their necks, which are superstitiously regarded. It is a superstition noticed by Pausanias 1700 years ago', and it then belonged to an age equally remote, as I shall have occasion to show; but its continuance during the latter period is the more remarkable, because it might have been expected that the light of the Gospel would have brought it into contempt. It is indeed a most striking proof of the difficulty with which hereditary superstition is eradicated from the mind, that Christianity has failed to produce that effect in a great variety of instances; one of the most singular is related by the same writer. "At Lebadea the secretary of the Archon, considered a man of education among the Greeks of that city, speaking of the tops of the mountains, and particularly of Parnassus, said, It is there that the old gods have resided ever since they were driven from the plains; and observing that we were amused with his observation, he added with great seriousness, They did strange things in this country; those old gods are not fit subjects for laughter.""" We recognise here exactly the same feeling which Strabo describes when he tells us that all Parnassus was esteemed sacred. The reason of its sacred character will be better understood, if we bear in
1 Τὰς μὲν δὴ πέτρας σέβουνὶ τε μάλιστα. Baot. c. xxxviii.
3 ̔Ιεροπρεπὴς δέστὶ πᾶς ὁ Παρνασσός. Geog. l. ix. 604.
mind that it is a solitary lofty mountain, that its two peaks are visible at a great distance, and that the crater on its summit contains a pool of water. From Delphi, which was situated at the lower part of this mountain, a stone column sustaining a brazen serpent was removed to Constantinople. Now the serpent was an ancient symbol of the deluge, and therefore belonged very properly to Parnassus; but after it came in contact with the Jewish history, it assumed another meaning, in allusion to one of the earliest events of that history, and retained it till the middle of the seventeenth century at least; for a writer of that period, describing the entrance of Mahomet into Constantinople, relates the following anecdote: "When the conqueror came to the Atmeidan, and saw the serpent, 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 its triple 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 thenceforth, since through that image it was that there were before no serpents in the city. Wherefore," adds the chronicler," that column remains to this day; and although in consequence of the lower jaw being struck off some serpents do come into the city, yet they do no harm to any one." Now though neither the Mahommedan nor the
1 Leunclavius, Annales Turcici, sect. 130. Deane on Serpent Worship, p. 200.
Jew expressly referred this protection from the serpent's bite to its Jewish origin, there can be no doubt that the notion took its rise from the brazen serpent in the wilderness. But idolatry has left numerous traces of its sway even in the bosom of the Christian church. In Galt's Life of Lord Byron it is mentioned, that on the first evening of the new moon the Athenian maidens, who are anxious to get husbands, put a little honey, a little salt, and a piece of bread on a plate, which they leave at a particular spot on the east bank of the Ilyssus, near the stadium, and muttering some ancient words to the effect that fate may send them a handsome young man, return home and long for the fulfilment of the charm. However little the Athenian maidens may be conscious of what they are doing, these offerings are in fact a sacrifice to Venus; for it appears from Pausanias, that a statue of Venus formerly stood on that very spot. But the Church of Rome in a more especial manner lends her sanction to the inheritance of idolatry. In Sicily, at Enna, now Castrogiovanni, which, according to Livy, was the spot in the whole island regarded with most religious reverence, the temple of Proserpine is said to have been built, the scene of her rape being the borders of a lake five miles off and Ceres came from her temple on the opposite side of the city to pay an annual visit to her daughter. The same custom still prevails; for the Madonna is removed from the Chiesa della Madre to that of the Padri Reformati every year,
and makes an annual stay of fifteen days, during which time a great concourse of people assembles, and continual feastings are held on the plain.' It is evident that the Virgin Mary has in this case succeeded not only to the honours, but even to the name of Ceres; for the Greeks called her Demeter. In another instance she partakes of her lunar dignity; for Ceres was a name of the moon. In the church at Radna, the figure of a Turk on horseback is painted on the wall over a stone that had the mark of a crescent. The figure of the Virgin in the sky appears fastening the hoof to the rock, where it has left the impression of the shoe. The inscription, jealous of the Turkish symbol, transfers the honour of the crescent to the Virgin in these lines:
Turcæ equus en! mediæ pede format cornua lunæ,
At Eleusis in Greece, which was so long her most favourite abode, the statue of Ceres is still regarded with a high degree of superstitious veneration. The inhabitants of the small village situated among its ruins attribute to its presence the fertility of their land. But in general there is a broad distinction between the remnants of the overthrown idolatry
1 Sir R. C. Hoare's Travels in Sicily, ii. 248. 2 Walsh's Journey from Constantinople, 375. * Clarke's Travels, vi. 563. The same notion may be traced in the name of the doll composed of ears of corn, and carried in triumphant procession with loud shouts in the north of England under the title of the Kern at the close of the harvest.
in Greece and at Rome: in Greece, they are like a Codex Palimpsestus, on which, though the writing is erased, yet the marks of it are sufficiently visible to the observant eye. Thus the priests of a village called Scamnya go annually on the 20th day of June, to perform mass on the highest point of Olympus', the residence of the ancient gods, which however is related by its form to a much earlier system of religion; for it is shaped like a tumulus, the meaning of which must be reserved for future consideration. And again, on Mount Hymettus, where there was once a temple of Venus, and a fountain supposed to facilitate parturition, there is now a monastery, to which the Greek women still repair at particular seasons; and the priest told Chandler, that a dove, which it will be recollected was the bird sacred to Venus, is seen to fly down from heaven to drink of the water annually at the feast of Pentecost. Here, again, we may perceive the same spirit of accommodation for the dove, which has been so adroitly shifted into successive forms of worship, originally belonged to a more ancient system of religion: for she belonged to the history of the deluge; and the bull's head found in the same place sculptured upon a marble cistern, for reasons which will be explained hereafter, may be considered a part of the same system. But at Rome, even the names of the idols have been re
1 Clarke's Travels, vii. 388.
2 Chandler's Travels in Greece, 145. Clarke's Travels, vi. 345.