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dhiyo yo nah prakodayât.-Let us meditate on the desirable light of the divine Sun; may he rouse our minds!' Every morning the Brahman worships the sun, standing on one foot and resting the other against his ankle or heel, looking towards the east, holding his hands open before him in a hollow form, and repeating to himself these prayers: 'The rays of light announce the splendid fiery sun, beautifully rising to illumine the universe.'-'He rises, wonderful, the eye of the sun, of water, and of fire, collective power of gods; he fills heaven, earth, and sky with his luminous net; he is the soul of all that is fixed or locomotive.'-'That eye, supremely beneficial, rises pure from the east; may we see him a hundred years; may we live a hundred years; may we hear a hundred years.'-'May we, preserved by the divine power, contemplating heaven above the region of darkness, approach the deity, most splendid of luminaries !'1 A Vedic celestial deity, Mitra the Friend, came to be developed in the Persian religion into that great ruling divinity of light, the victorious Mithra, lord of life and head of all created beings. The ancient Persian Mihr-Yasht invokes him in the character of the sun-light, Mithra with wide pastures, whom the lords of the regions praise at early dawn, who as the first heavenly Yazata rises over Hara-berezaiti before the sun, the immortal with swift steeds, who first with golden form seizes the fair summits, then surrounds the whole Aryan region. Mithra came to be regarded as the very Sun, as where Dionysos addresses the Tyrian Bel, ‘εἴτε σὺ Μίθρης Ηέλιος Βαβυλῶνος. His worship spread from the East across the Roman empire, and in Europe he takes rank among the great solar gods absolutely identified with the personal Sun, as in this inscription on a Roman altar dating from Trajan's time-Deo Soli Mithra.'2
1 'Rig-Veda,' i. 35, 50; iii. 62, 10. Max Müller, 'Lectures,' 2nd Ser. pp. 378, 411; 'Chips,' vol. i. p. 19. Colebrooke, 'Essays,' vol. i. pp. 30, 133. Ward, 'Hindoos,' vol. ii. p. 42.
2 'Khordah-Avesta,' xxvi. in Avesta tr. by Spiegel, vol. iii.; M. Haug, 'Essays on Parsis.' Strabo, xv. 3, 13. Nonnus, xl. 400. Movers, 'Phönizier,' vol. i. p. 180 : ‘Ηλίῳ Μίθρᾳ ἀνικήτῳ”; “ Διὸς ἀνικήτου Ηλίου.
The earlier Sun-worship of Europe, upon which this new Oriental variety was intruded, in certain of its developments shows the same clear personality. The Greek Helios, to whom horses were sacrificed on the mountain-top of Taugetos, was that same personal Sun to whom Sokrates, when he had staid rapt in thought till daybreak, offered a prayer before he departed (ἔπειτ ̓ ὤχετ ̓ ἀπιὼν προσευξάμενος τῷ λ). Cæsar devotes to the German theology of his time three lines of his Commentaries. They reckon in the number of the gods, he says, those only whom they perceive and whose benefits they openly enjoy, Sun and Vulcan and Moon, the rest they know not even by report.2 It is true that Cæsar's short summary does no justice to the real number and quality of the deities of the German pantheon, yet his forcible description of nature-worship in its most primitive stage may probably be true of the direct adoration of the sun and moon, and possibly of fire. On the other hand, European sun-worship leads into the most perplexing problems of mythology. Well might Cicero exclaim, 'How many suns are set forth by the theologians !'3 The modern student who shall undertake to discriminate among the Sun-gods of European lands, to separate the solar and non-solar elements of the Greek Apollo and Herakles, or of the Slavonic Swatowit, has a task before him complicate with that all but hopeless difficulty which besets the study of myth, the moment that the clue of direct comparison with nature falls away.
The religion of ancient Egypt is one of which we know much, yet little-much of its temples, rites, names of deities, liturgical formulas, but little of the esoteric religious ideas which lay hidden within these outer manifestations. Yet it is clear that central solar conceptions as it
1 Plat. Sympos. xxxvi. See Welcker, 'Griech. Götterlehre,' vol. i. pp. 400, 412.
2 Cæsar de Bello Gallico, vi. 21: 'Deorum numero eos solos ducunt, quos cernunt et quorum aperte opibus juvantur, Solem et Vulcanum et Lunam, reliquos ne fama quidem acceperunt.'
3 Cicero de Natura Deorum, iii. 21.
were radiate through the Egyptian theology. Ra, who traverses in his boat the upper and lower regions of the universe, is the Sun himself in plain cosmic personality. And to take two obvious instances of solar characters in other deities, Osiris the manifester of good and truth, who dies by the powers of darkness and becomes judge of the dead in the west-land of Amenti, is solar in his divine nature, as is also his son Horus, smiter of the monster Set.1 In the religions of the Semitic race, the place of the Sun is marked through a long range of centuries. The warning to the Israelites lest they should worship and serve sun, moon, and stars, and the mention of Josiah taking away the horses that the Kings of Judah had given to the sun, and burning the chariots of the sun with fire,2 agree with the place given in other Semitic religions to the Sun-god, Shamas of Assyria, or Baal, even expressly qualified as Baal-Shemesh or Lord Sun. Syrian religion, like Persian, introduced a new phase of Sun-worship into Rome, the cultus of Elagabal, and the vile priest emperor who bore this divine name made it more intelligible to classic ears as Heliogabalus.3 Eusebius is a late writer as regards Semitic religion, but with such facts as these before us we need not withhold our confidence from him when he describes the Phoenicians and Egyptians as holding Sun, Moon, and Stars to be gods, sole causes of the generation and destruction of all things.*
The widely spread and deeply rooted religion of the Sun naturally offered strenuous resistance to the invasion of Christianity, and it was one of the great signs of the religious change of the civilized world when Constantine, that ardent votary of the Sun, abandoned the faith of Apollo for that of Christ. Amalgamation even proved possible
1 See Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians'; Renouf, 'Religion of Ancient Egypt.'
2 Deut. iv. 19, xvii. 3; 2 Kings xxiii. 11.
3 Movers, 'Phönizier,' vol. i. pp. 162, 180, &c. Lamprid. Heliogabal. i. Euseb. Præparat. Evang. i. 6,
between the doctrines of Sabæism and Christianity, and in and near Armenia a sect of Sun-worshippers have lasted on into modern times under the profession of Jacobite Christians; a parallel case within the limits of Mohammedanism being that of Beduin Arabs who still continue the old adoration of the rising sun, in spite of the Prophet's expressed command not to bow before the sun or moon, and in spite of the good Moslem's dictum, that 'the sun rises between the devil's horns.'2 Actual worship of the sun in Christendom soon shrank to the stage of survival. In Lucian's time the Greeks kissed their hands as an act of worship to the rising sun; and Tertullian had still to complain of many Christians that with an affectation of adoring the heavenly bodies they would move their lips toward the sunrise (Sed et plerique vestrum affectatione aliquando et cœlestia adorandi ad solis ortum labia vibratis).3 In the 5th century, Leo the Great complains of certain Christians who, before entering the Basilica of St. Peter, or from the top of a hill, would turn and bow to the rising sun; this comes, he says, partly of ignorance and partly of the spirit of paganism.4 To this day, in the Upper Palatinate, the peasant takes off his hat to the rising sun; and in Pomerania, the feverstricken patient is to pray thrice turning toward the sun at sunrise, 'Dear Sun, come soon down, and take the seventy-seven fevers from me. In the name of God the Father, &c.'5
For the most part, the ancient rites of solar worship are represented in modern Christendom in two ways; by the ceremonies connected with turning to the east, of which an account is given in an ensuing chapter under the heading of Orientation; and in the continuance of the great sun
1 Neander, 'Church History,' vol. vi. p. 341. Carsten Niebuhr, ‘Reisebeschr.' vol. ii. p. 396.
2 Palgrave, 'Arabia,' vol. i. p. 9; vol. ii. p. 258. See Koran, xli. 37. 3 Tertullian. Apolog. adv. Gentes, xvi. See Lucian. de Saltat. xvii.; compare Job xxxi. 26.
4 Leo. I. Serm. viii. in Natal. Dom.
5 Wuttke, 'Volksaberglaube,' p. 150,
festivals, countenanced by or incorporated in Christianity. Spring-tide, reckoned by so many peoples as New-Year, has in great measure had its solar characteristics transferred to the Paschal festival. The Easter bonfires with which the North German hills used to be ablaze mile after mile, are not altogether given up by local custom. On Easter morning in Saxony and Brandenburg, the peasants still climb the hill-tops before dawn, to see the rising sun give his three joyful leaps, as our forefathers used to do in England in the days when Sir Thomas Browne so quaintly apologized for declaring that 'the sun doth not dance on Easter Day.' The solar rite of the New Fire, adopted by the Roman Church as a Paschal ceremony, may still be witnessed in Europe, with its solemn curfew on Easter Eve, and the ceremonial striking of the new holy fire. On Easter Eve, under the solemn auspices of the Greek Church, a mob of howling fanatics crush and trample to death the victims who faint and fall in their struggles to approach the most shameless imposture of modern Christendom, the miraculous fire from heaven which descends into the Holy Sepulchre. Two other Christian festivals have not merely had solar rites transferred to them, but seem distinctly themselves of solar origin. The Roman winter-solstice festival, as celebrated on December 25 (VIII. Kal. Jan.) in connexion with the worship of the Sun-god Mithra, appears to have been instituted in this special form after the Eastern campaign of Aurelian A.D. 273, and to this festival the day owes its apposite name of Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, Dies Natalis Solis invicti.' With full symbolic appropriateness, though not with historical justification, the day was adopted in the Western Church, where it appears to have been generally introduced by the 4th century, and whence in time it passed to the Eastern Church, as the solemn anniversary of the birth of Christ,
1 Grimm, 'Deutsche Myth.' p. 581, &c. Wuttke, pp. 17, 93. Brand, 'Pop. Ant.' vol. i. p. 157, &c. Early Hist. of Mankind,' p. 260. Murray's Handbook for Syria and Palestine,' 1868, p. 162.