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Errata in No. XLIV.

p. 358..19.

449.

1st Arabic 1. for

لوز الهندي read لوز الغندي p

.
358.1
.

12. for
نجار read

,read الجار 2nd Arabie I for
تجار read الجار 4th Arabic 1

,
for

المجمر الحجار السيارهren الجار

450. 2nd Arabic I.

I. for

re 4th Arabic 1. for

1. I And continue the last line after the single word in the last line but one; p. 450:

}

THE

CLASSICAL JOURNAL.

No. XLV.

MARCH, 1821.

AN INQUIRY into the Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and

Mythology.
By R. P. KNIGHT.

** Intended to be prefixed to the Second Volume of the Select Specimens of Ancient Sculpture, published by the Society of Dilettanti; but the necessarily slow progress of that work, in the exhausted state of the funds to be applied to it, affording the Author little probability of seeing its completion, he has been induced to print this proposed Part of it, that any information which he may have been able to collect, on a subject so interesting to all lovers of elegant art, may not be lost to his successors in such pursuits, but receive any additions and corrections which may render it more worthy to appear in the splendid form, and with the beautiful illus. trations of the preceding Volume.

PART I.

1. As all the most interesting and important subjects of ancient art are taken from the religious or poetical mythology of the times ; a general analysis of the principles and progress of that mytholosy will afford a more complete, as well as more concise, explanation of particular monuments, than can be conveyed in separate dissertations annexed to each.

2. The primitive religion of the Greeks, like that of all other nations not enlightened by Revelation, appears to have been elementary; and to have consisted in an indistinct worship of the sun,

VOL. XXIII. CI. Jl. NO. XLV. А

men

the moon, the stars, the earth, and the waters,' or rather to the spirits supposed to preside over those bodies, and to direct their motions and regulate their modes of existence. Every river, spring, or inountain, had its local genius or peculiar deity; and as naturally endevour to obtain the favor of their gods, by such means as they feel best adapted to win their own, the first worship consisted in offering to them certain portions of whatever they held to be most valuable. At the same time that the regular motions of the heavenly bodies, the stated returns of summer and winter, of day and night, with all the admirable order of the universe, tauglit them to believe in the existence and agency of such superior powers; the irregular and destructive efforts of nature, such as lightning and tempests, inundations and earthquakes, persuaded them that these mighty beings had passions and affections similar to their own, and only differed in possessing greater strength, power, and intelligence.

3. In every stage of society men naturally love the marvellous ; but in the early stages, a certain portion of it is absolutely necessary to make any narration sufficiently interesting to attract attention, or obtain an audience: whence the actions of gods are intermixed with those of men ju the earliest traditions or histories of all nations; and poetical fable occupied the place of historical truth in their accounts of the transactions of war and policy, as well as in those of the revolutions of nature and origin of things. Each had produced some renowned warriors, whose mighty achievements had been assisted by the favor, or obstructed by the anger, of the gods; and each had sone popular tales concerning the means by which those gods had constructed the universe, and ihe principles upon which they continued to govern it: whence the Greeks and Romans found a Hercules in every country which they visited, as well as in their own; and the adventures of some such hero supply the first materials for history, as a cosmogony or theogony exhibits the first system of philosophy, in every nation.

4. As the maintenance of order and subordination among men required the authority of a supreme magistrate, the continuation and general predominance of order and regularity in the universe would paturally suggest the idea of a supreme God, to whose sovereign control all the rest were subject; and this ineffable personage the primitive Greeks appear to have called by a name expressive of the sentiment, which the contemplation of his great characteristic attribute naturally inspired, Zeus, Agers, or Deus, signifying, according to the most probable etymology, reverential

1

φαινονται μοι οι πρωτοι των ανθρωπων των περι την Ελλαδα τουτους μονους θεους ηγεισθαι, ουσπερ νυν πολλοι των βαρβαρων, ήλιον, και σεληνην, και γην, και Botpa, kol ovpavov. Platon, in Cratyl.

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