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spirit of the grove, it might have been objected that such a custom has no analogy in classical antiquity. But reasons have now been given for believing that the human being periodically and occasionally slain by the Asiatic Greeks was regularly treated as an embodiment of a divinity. Probably the persons whom the Athenians kept to be sacrificed were similarly treated as divine. That they were social outcasts did not matter. On the primitive view a man is not chosen to be the mouth-piece or embodiment of a god on account of his high moral qualities or social rank. The divine afflatus descends equally on the good and the bad, the lofty and the lowly. If then the civilised Greeks of Asia and Athens habitually sacrificed men whom they regarded as incarnate gods, there can be no inherent improbability in the supposition that at the dawn of history a similar custom was observed by the semi-barbarous Latins in the Arician Grove.
$ 16. Killing the God in Mexico But the religion of ancient Mexico, as it was found and described by the Spanish conquerors in the sixteenth century, offers perhaps a closer parallel to the rule of the Arician priesthood, as I conceive that rule to have been originally observed. Certainly nowhere does the custom of killing the human representative of a god appear to have been carried out so systematically and on so extensive a scale as in Mexico. “They took a captive,” says Acosta, “such as they thought good; and afore they did sacrifice him unto their idols, they gave him the name of the idol, to whom he should be sacrificed, and apparelled him with the same ornaments like their idol, saying that he did represent the same idol. And during the time that this representation lasted, which was for a year in some feasts, in others six months, and in others less, they reverenced and worshipped him in the same manner as the proper idol; and in the meantime he did eat, drink, and was merry. When he went through the streets the people came forth to worship him, and every one brought him an alms, with children and sick folks, that he might cure them, and bless them, suffering him to do all
things at his pleasure, only he was accompanied with ten or twelve men lest he should fly. And he (to the end he might be reverenced as he passed) sometimes sounded upon a small fute, that the people might prepare to worship him.
The feast being come, and he grown fat, they killed him, opened him, and eat him, making a solemn sacrifice of him.”l
For example, at the annual festival of the great god Tezcatlipoca, which fell about Easter or a few days later, a young man was chosen to be the living image of Tezcatlipoca for a whole year.
He had to be of unblemished body, and he was carefully trained to sustain his lofty part with becoming grace and dignity. During the year he was lapped in luxury, and the king himself took care that the future victim was apparelled in gorgeous attire, "for already he esteemed him as a god.” Attended by eight pages clad in the royal livery, the young man roamed the streets of the capital day and night at his pleasure, carrying flowers and playing the flute. All who saw him fell on their knees before him and adored him, and he graciously acknowledged their homage. Twenty days before the festival at which he was to be sacrificed, four damsels, delicately nurtured, and bearing the names of four goddesses, were given him to be his brides. For five days before the sacrifice divine honours were showered on him more abundantly than ever. The king remained in his palace, while the whole court went after the destined victim. Everywhere there were solemn banquets and balls. On the last day the young man, still attended by his pages, was ferried across the lake in a covered barge to a small and lonely temple, which, like the Mexican temples in general, rose in the form of a pyramid. As he ascended the stairs of the temple he broke at every step one of the flutes on which he had played in the days of his glory. On reaching the summit he was seized and held down on a block of stone, while a priest cut open his breast with a stone knife, and plucking out his heart, offered it to the sun. His head was hung among the skulls of previous victims, and his legs and
1 Acosta, History of the Indies, vol. ii. p. 323 (Hakluyt Soc. 1880). I have modernised the spelling. Cp. Herrera,
Gmeral History of the vast Continent and Islands of America, trans. by Sievens, iii. 207 sq.
arms were cooked and prepared for the table of the lords. His place was immediately filled up by another young man, who for a year was treated with the same profound respect, and at the end of it shared the same fate.
The idea that the god thus slain in the person of his representative comes to life again immediately, was graphically represented in the Mexican ritual by skinning the slain man-god and clothing in his skin a living man, who thus became the new representative of the godhead. For example, at an annual festival a woman was sacrificed who represented Toci, the Mother of the Gods, or the Earth-goddess. She was dressed with the ornaments, and bore the name of the goddess, whose living image she was believed to be. After being feasted and diverted with sham fights for several days, she was taken at midnight to the summit of a temple, and beheaded on the shoulders of a man. The body was immediately flayed, and one of the priests, clothing himself in the skin, became the representative of the goddess Toci. The skin of the woman's thigh was removed separately, and a young man who represented the maize-god Cinteotl, the son of the goddess Toci, wrapt it round his face like a mask. Various ceremonies then followed, in which the two men, clad in the woman's skin, played the parts respectively of the god and goddess. For example, when the principal victims had been slain, their blood was offered to the representative of the maize-god in a vessel decked with feathers. This he tasted, bending over the vessel and dipping his finger in the blood while he uttered a loud and doleful groan, which caused all that heard it to shudder and quake. At the same moment, as the Indians firmly believed, a tremor ran through the earth itself. Again, at the annual festival of the god Totec, a number of captives having been killed and skinned, a priest clothed himself in one of their skins, and thus became the image of the god Totec. Then wearing the ornaments of the god-a crown of feathers, golden necklaces and ear-rings, scarlet shoes, and so forth—he was enthroned, and received offerings of the first-fruits and first flowers of the season, together with bunches of the maize which had been kept for seed.? Every fourth year the Quauhtitlans offered sacrifices in honour of the god of fire. On the eve of the festival they sacrificed two slaves, skinned them, and took out their thigh bones. Next day two priests clothed themselves in the skins, took the bones in their hands, and with solemn steps and dismal howlings descended the stairs of the temple. The people, who were assembled in crowds below, called out, “ Behold, there come our gods.":
· Sahagun, Histoire générale des choses de la Nouvelle Espagne (Paris, 1880), pp. 61 59., 96-99, 103 ; Acosta, History of the Indies, vol. ii. p. 350 594. (Ilakluyt Society); Clavigero, History of Mexico, trans. by Cullen, i. 300 ; Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire des Nations civilisées du Nlexique et de l'Amérique Centrale, iii. 510-512; Bancroft, Native Races of the Pacific States, ii. 319 sq.
The sacramental banquet on the flesh of this dead god has been already noticed (vol. ii. p. 342 sq.). For other Mexican instances of persons
representing deities and slain in that character, see Sahagun, pp. 75, 116 sq., 123, 158 sq., 164 sq., 585 599., 589; Acosta, ii. 384 599.; Clavigero, i. 312; Brasseur de Bourbourg, iii. 517 sq., 519 sq., 527 sq., 529 59., 535 sq.; Bancroft, ii. 325 599., 337 sq.
2 Sahagun, pp. 18 sq., 68 sq., 133139; Brasseur de Bourbourg, jii. 523-525; Bancroft, iii. 353-359; E. J. Payne, History of the New World called America, i. 470 sy.
Thus it appears that human sacrifices of the sort I suppose to have prevailed at Aricia were, as a matter of fact, systematically offered on a large scale by a people whose level of culture was probably not inferior, if indeed it was not distinctly superior, to that occupied by the Italian races at the early period to which the origin of the Arician priesthood must be referred. The positive and indubitable evidence of the prevalence of such sacrifices in one part of the world may reasonably be allowed to strengthen the probability of their prevalence in places for which the cvidence is less full and trustworthy. Taken all together, the facts which we have passed in review seem to show that the custom of killing men whom their worshippers regard as divine has prevailed in many parts of the world. But to clinch the argument, it is clearly desirable to prove that the custom of putting to death a human representative of a god was known and practised in ancient Italy elsewhere than in the Arician Grove. This proof I now propose to adduce.
1 E. J. Payne, op. cit. i. 470.
2 Sahagun, p. 584 sq. For this festival see also id., pp. 37 sq., 58
sq., 60, 87 599., 93; Clavigero, i. 297 ; Bancroft, ii. 306 399.
3 Clavigero, i. 283.
$ 17. The Saturnalia and Kindred Festivals In an earlier part of this chapter we saw that many peoples have been used to observe an annual period of licence, when the customary restraints of law and morality are thrown aside, when the whole population give themselves up to extravagant mirth and jollity, and when the darker passions find a vent which would never be allowed them in the more staid and sober course of ordinary life. Such outbursts of the pent-up forces of human nature, too often degenerating into wild orgies of lust and crime, occur most commonly at the end of the year, and are frequently associated, as I have had occasion to point out, with one or other of the agricultural seasons, especially with the time of sowing or of harvest. Now, of all these periods of licence the one which is best known and which in modern languages has given its name to the rest, is the Saturnalia. This famous festival fell in December, the last month of the Roman year, and was popularly supposed to commemorate the merry reign of Saturn, the god of sowing and of husbandry, who lived on earth long ago as a righteous and beneficent king of Italy, drew the rude and scattered dwellers on the mountains together, taught them to till the ground, gave them laws, and ruled in peace. His reign was the fabled Golden Age; the earth brought forth abundantly ; no sound of war or discord troubled the happy world ; no baleful love of lucre worked like poison in the blood of the industrious and contented peasantry. Slavery and private property were alike unknown; all men had all things in common. At last the good god, the kindly king, vanished suddenly ; but his memory was cherished to distant ages, shrines were reared in his honour, and many hills and high places in Italy bore his name. Yet the bright tradition of
1 Virgil, Arn. viii. 319-327, with logie,3 ii. 10 599. a good account of the comments of Servius ; Ovid, fusti, the Saturnalia, based on the texts of i. 233 599. ; Lucian, Saturnalia, 7; the classical writers, is given by Dezobry Macrobius, Sat. i. 7. 21-26 ; Justin, (Rome au siècle d'Auguste,y iii. 143 xliii. 1. 3-5; Aurelius Victor, Origo $44.). The name Saturn seems to be gentis Romanae, 3; Dionysius Hlali. etymologically akin to satus and satio, carnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. i. 34. "a sowing” or “planting.” Compare On Saturn and the Saturnalia sce, Festus, s.7'. Opima spolia,” p. 186 especially Preller, Römische Mytho- ed. Miiller : “ipse (Saturnus] agrorum