Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

the demons of the cosmic forces were identified with might, strength and magnitude, they in time passed into the stage of penates, giants, solar and other heroes; the demons of the trees, rivers, fountains and seas, passed into dryads, nymphs, syrens and mermaids; ancestral spirits assumed the form of lares, familiar spirits, guardian angels and patron saints; whilst in certain morbid forms they were hobgoblins, ghosts, brownies and bogies; the forests and fields, the waves and caves, teemed with satyrs, fauns, fairies, elves, trolls and dwarfs. Thus it came about that the people of the ancient classical periods, of the middle ages, and even of quite recent times, could well believe that, were their eyes open, like those of Elisha's companions of old, they would see the world, and every corner in it, the earth, the air, the heavens, the seas, and the abyss, peopled with legions of spiritual beings, each with his office and vocation, and his separate, personal and intelligent existence; and all influencing, in some form or another, the affairs of the human race, in every minute particular.

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth

Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.' We have hitherto been speaking of demons properly so called, as being spiritual beings immediately

[blocks in formation]
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

representing a material substance, or a material conception; spirits that might be called “spirits appurtenant:” but besides these there were independent, unattached spirits, such as angels. It is difficult to define the point at which the host of angels became distinguishable from the good demons, who in their turn imperceptibly gradate into the doubtful and even malignant demons. Originally there was only one great system of spirits, out of which gradually but methodically the two classes of good and evil spirits were evolved. The first step towards the “differentiation” would naturally be to classify spirits in harmony with their material representatives; to attribute a powerful spirit to the sun, a destructive spirit to the tornado, a benignant spirit to the fertilizing dew, a ruthless spirit to the plague, and so on through the world of nature. The next step would be to subordinate spirits to one another, in the same relation as apparent in the material world; the sun disperses the clouds, the plague strikes down the man, therefore the spirit of the sun is more powerful than the spirit of the clouds, the spirit of the plague than that of the man.' The spiritual world thus became disposed in a complete hierarchy, ranging from the supreme deities to the most insignificant fetish. The Talmudists maintained that the hosts of angels were 1,064,340,000,000,000 in number, and that the devils numbered 7,405,926, and that all these were

91

992

3

divided into ranks and classes, “Thrones, dominations, virtues, princedoms, powers.

“Abba Benyamin says : '

* Were the eye permitted to see the malignant spirits, no creature could abide on account of them.' Abaii said, “They are more numerous than we are, and they stand about us as the earth of the trenches surrounds the garden beds.' Rav Huna said : ‘Every one of us has 1,000 on his left side and 10,000 on his right. To this day, the devout Turk, at the conclusion of his prayers, bows to the right and to the left, as saluting the genii of good and evil respectively by whom he is attended.

Thus, then, the belief in demons having been from time immemorial an integral part of the popular belief, it has contributed very largely to the notions entertained down to the present time of the devil himself. Two references will suffice to show this connection. Pan, one of the classical rural deities, closely associated with the satyrs and the fauns, is described as horned and goat-footed, with a wrinkled face and a flat nose. Although this latter organ is often modified in its form, yet there is little difficulty in recognizing the horned and hoofed devil of popular tradition and nursery dread. Again, Puck is a fair

1 Farrar's "Life of Christ," ii. 466.
? Hershon’s “Pentateuch according to the Talmud,” 299.

Lenormant's “ Chaldean Magic,” 144.
• Keightley's "Classical Mythology."

3

« ПредишнаНапред »