Hamlet’s Mill: Part 10

CHAPTER 20
The Depths of the Sea

Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?
Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

Job XXXVIII.16

IT WILL HELP NOW to take a quick comparative look at the different “dialects” of mythical language as applied to “Phaethon” in Greece and India. The Pythagoreans make Phaethon fall into Eridanus, burning part of its water, and glowing still at the time when the Argonauts passed by. Ovid stated that since that fall the Nile hides its sources. Rigveda 9.73.3 says that the Great Varuna has hidden the ocean. The Mahabharata tells in its own style why the “heavenly Ganga” had to be brought down [n1 Mbh. 3.104-105 (Roy trans., vol. 2, pt. 2, pp. 230f.); see also H. J. Jacobi, ERE, vol. I, p. 181A; S. Sorenson, Mahabharata Index (1963), p.18A.]. At the end of the Golden Age (Krita Yuga) a class of Asura who had fought against the “gods” hid themselves in the ocean where the gods could not reach them, and planned to overthrow the government. So the gods implored Agastya (Canopus, alpha Carinae = Eridu) for help. The great Rishi did as he was bidden, drank up the water of the ocean, and thus laid bare the enemies, who were then slain by the gods. But now, there was no ocean anymore! Implored by the gods to fill the sea again, the Holy One replied: “That water in sooth hath been digested by me. Some other expedient, therefore, must be thought of by you, if ye desire to make endeavour to fill the ocean.” It was this sad state of things which made it necessary to bring the Galaxy “down.” This is reminiscent of the detail in the Jewish tradition about Eben Shetiyyah, that the waters sank down so deeply that David had to recite the “fifteen songs of ascension” to make them rise again.

Now Agastya, the great Rishi, had a “sordid” origin similar to that of Erichthonios (Auriga), who was born of Gaia, “the Earth,” from the “seed of Hephaistos who had dropped it while he was looking at Athena [n2 Besides Greece and India, the motif of the dropped seed occurs in Caucasian myths, particularly those which deal with the hero Soszryko. The “Earth” is replaced by a stone, Hephaistos by a shepherd, and Athena by the “beautiful Satana,” who watches carefully the pregnant stone and who, when the time comes, calls in the blacksmith who serves as midwife to the “stone-born” hero whose body is blue shining steel from head to foot, except the knees (or the hips) which are damaged by the pliers of the smith. The same Soszryko seduces a hostile giant to measure the depth of the sea in the same manner as Michael or Elias causes the devil to dive, making the sea freeze in the meantime.]. In the case of the Rishi:

He originated from the seed of Mitra and Varuna, which they dropped into a water-jar on seeing the heavenly Urvashi. From this double parentage he is called Maitravaruni, and from his being born from a jar he got the name Khumbasambhava.” [n3 RV 7.33.I3-14; Brihad-Devata 5.152ff.; Sorenson, p. 18B. Let us mention that the Egyptian Canopus is himself a jar-god; actually, he is represented by a Greek hydria (see RE s.v. Kanopos).] [Khumba is the name of Aquarius in India and Indonesia, allegedly ate Greek influence]

On the very same time and occasion there also was “born” as son of Mitra and Varuna—only the seed fell on the ground not in the jar—the Rishi Vasishtha. This is unmistakably zeta Ursae Majoris, and the lining up of Canopus with zeta, more often with Alcor, the tiny star near zeta (Tom Thumb, in Babylonia the “fox”-star) has remained a rather constant feature, in Arabic Suhayl and as-Suha. This is the “birth” of the valid representatives of both the poles, the sons of Mitra and Varuna and also of their successors. To follow up the long and laborious way leading from Rigvedic Mitravaruna (dual) to the latest days of the Roman Empire where we still find a gloss saying “mithra funis, quo navis media vincitur” -“mithra is the rope, by which the middle of the ship is bound,” would overstep the frame of this essay by far. Robert Eisler [n4 Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt (1910), pp. 175f.] relying upon his vast material, connected this fetter of “rope,” mithra, right away with the “ship’s belt” from the tenth book of Plato’s Republic.

Of the inseparable dual Mitravaruna, Varuna is still of greater relevance, particularly because it is he who “surveyed the first creation” (RV 8.41.10), he who hid the Ocean—Ovid had it that the sources of the Nile were hidden—and he who is himself called “the hidden Ocean” (RV 8.41.8). Varuna states about himself: “I fastened the sky to the seat of the Rita” (RV 4.42.2). And at that “seat of Rita” we find Svarnara, said to be “the name of the celestial spring. . . which Soma selected as his dwelling [n5 See H. Luders, Varuna, vol. 2: Varuna und das Rita (1959), pp. 396-401 (RV 4.21.3; 8.6.39; 8.65.2f.; 9.70.6). Soma is addressed as “lord of the poles,” and to Agni is given the epithet svarnaram thrice (RV 2.2.1; 6.15.4; 8.19.1; cf. Luders, p. 400). But we did hear before about “Agni, like the felly the spokes, so you surround all the gods,” and Soma and Agni supplement each other, as will come out eventually, but not in this essay; the proportions Mitra: Varuna, Agni: Soma, Ambrosia: Nectar are not as easily computed as wishful thinking might expect.]. This is no other “thing” than Hvarna (Babylonian melammu) which the “bad uncle” Afrasiyab attempted to steal by diving to the: bottom of Lake Vurukasha, although Hvarna belonged to Kai Khusrau (see above, pp. 40, 201). Thus in whichever dialect the phenomenon is spelled out, the fallen ruler of the Golden Age is held to dwell nearest to the celestial South Pole, particularly in Canopus which marks the steering oar of Argo, Canopus at the “confluence of the rivers.” This is true whether Varuna fastened the sky to the seat of the Rita (and his own seat), whether Enki-Ea-Enmesharra, dwelling in Eridu, held all the norms and measures (Rita, Sumerian me: Akkadian: parsu)—Thorkild Jacobsen called him very appropriately the “Lord modus operandi” –or whether Kronos-Saturn kept giving “all the measures of the whole creation” to Zeus while he himself slept in Ogygia-the-primeval.

And there is little doubt, in fact none, that Phaethon (in the strange transformation scenes of successive ages) came to be understood as Saturn. There is the testimony of Erastosthenes’ Catasterisms [n6 No. 43 (Robert ed., pp. 194f.) E.g., Hyginus II 42, dealing with the planets, beginning with Jupiter: “Secunda stella dicitur Solis, quam alii Saturni dixerunt; hanc Eratosthenes a Solis filio Phaetonta adpellatam dicit, de quo complures dixerunt, ut patris inscienter curru vectus incenderit terras; quo facto ab Iove fulmine percussus in Eridanum deciderit et a Sole inter sidera sit perlatus.”],

according to which the planet Saturn was Phaethon who fell from the chariot into Eridanus, and Stephanus of Byzantium [n7 s.v. Eretria (Eretrios, “Son of Phaethon, and this was one of the Titans”). See M. Mayer, Giganten und Titanen (1887), pp. 70, 124.] calls Phaethon a Titan. There is, moreover, the Orphic wording of the case: “After Kronos had emasculated Ouranos, Zeus threw his father [Kronos] from the chariot and ‘entartarosed’ him” right away, if we translate the word literally [n8 Hieronymi et Hellanici theogonia (Athenagoras), see Kern frg. 18, p.138; cf. also R. Eisler, Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt (1910), p. 338.]. Essential key words are easily mistaken for petty details, as in this case the “chariot,” from which Kronos/Phaethon was thrown into “Tartaros.” The vehicle in question is the two-wheeled race car, Greek halma, Latin currus, Babylonian narkabtu. It is the chariot of Auriga in Babylonia, surviving in the “Sphaera barbarica” of astrologers [n9 Cf. Boll, Sphaera, pp. 108ff. (Teukros and Valens).], whereas in our Sphere the Charioteer is bereft of any vehicle. And, indeed, no other than Erichthonios (a Greek name for Auriga, besides: Heniochos) is claimed to have invented the two-wheeled race car drawn by four horses (Erat. Catast. no. 13, pp. 98-101) which has to be distinguished carefully from the even more important four-wheeled truck, the Big Dipper, that is, Greek hamaxa, Latin plaustrum, Sumerian mul.MAR.GID.DA = Charles’ Wain.

Slightly perplexing traditions have come down in cuneiform texts, but they clearly allude to the same “event.” So, for instance, “The Elamitic chariot, without seat, carries the corpse of Enmesharra. The horses which are harnessed to it are the death-demon of Zu. The king who stands in the chariot is thd hero-king, the Lord Ninurta.” Leaving aside the two last sentences which are, in reality, not so pitch dark as they look at first glance, the translator, Erich Ebeling [n10 Tod und Leben nach den Vorstellungen der Babylonier (19_1), pp: 29, 33f], leaves no doubt that the “Elamitic chariot” is identlcal with the constellation “Chariot of Enmesharra,” which the authorities on Babylonian astronomy have identified with beta and zeta Tauri [n11 Gossmann, p. 89; Schaumberger, 3. Erg., p. 327; E. F. Weidner, In RLA 3, P.77.]. This Enmesharra now has a “telling” name: En.ME.SARRA is “Lord of all the me ,” that is, he is Lord of “norms and measures,” also called “Lord of the World Order,”

“Lord of the Universe = Ea” and, this is important, (lithe weighty one in the underworld” and “the sovereign of the underworld.” [n12 D. O. Edzard, “Die Mythologie der Sumerer und Akkader,” Wb. Myth., vol. 1, p. 62; P. Michatz, Die Gotterliste der Serie Anu ilu A-nu-um (Phil. Diss.; 1909). p. 12; K. Tallqvist, Sumerische Namen der Totenwelt (1934), p. 62. and Akkadische Gotterepitheta (1938), pp. 304, 437.].

The “underworld” is misleading, though; the word is: Arallu. The experts generally—not the Assyriologists alone—prefer to talk of names, in plural, given to the one “underworld,” instead of trying to find out the precise whereabouts of the several provinces of that huge country, and to establish which name might properly fit every quarter. As if one did not know of the plurality of “hells” and “heavens.” Here, however, it is not necessary to bring order into the quarters of the Mesopotamian Hades, and for the time being, it suffices that the Lord of the World Order, Enmesharra, is Enki-Ea, because it is known anyhow that he dwells “at the seat of Rita”: Eridu-Canopus. And since “Enmesharra’s chariot” is the vehicle of Auriga, beta zeta Tauri, there can be little doubt that the tradition of Phaethon’s fall was already a Sumerian myth (appendix #22).

And as in Greece, where the drastic version of the Orphics, of Hesiod and others are found side by side with those of Plutarch and Proclus, according to which Kronos gives with paternal grace “all the measures of the whole creation” to his son Zeus [n13 See also Lucian who makes Kronos say: “No, there was no fighting, nor does Zeus rule his empire by force; I handed it to him and abdicated quite voluntarily.”], so, too, we have in Mesopotamia cruel-sounding variations besides “reasonable” ones. For example, when Marduk builds his “world” and receives fifty new names, his father Ea gives him his very own name, stating (EE 7.141f.): “His name shall be Ea. All my combined rites he shall administer; all my instructions he shall carry out.” And as concerns Ea under the name of Enmesharra, Edzard states: “An incantation of Neo-Assyrian times, using an epithet of Enmesharra ‘Who transferred scepter and sovereignty to Anu and Enlil’ possibly hints to the voluntary abdication of the god.” [n14 Edzard, p. 62].

One of the questions begging answers is, which measures are meant, and how does Saturn accomplish his assignment “to give them continuously” to Jupiter? And, even if it is accepted that his “seat” is Canopus, how can he possibly give the measures from there? Without pretending to understand the scheme well for the time being, there are some explanations which seem to be the most plausible ones.

Above (p. 136), attention was called to the significance of the revolution of that Trigon which is built up by “Great Conjunctions” of Saturn and Jupiter, and was still understood By Kepler (see figure). Now, whoever tries to imagine. the degree of difficulty which faced the oldest “mythographers” will realize how welcome it must have been to find periods which fitted into each other at least approximately. This Trigon of Great Conjunctions presented itself as the instrument by which one could “narrow down” the almost imperceptible tempo of the Precession. To move through the whole zodiac, one of the angles of the Trigon need approximately 3 x 794 1/3 = 2383 years. That comes tolerably near to one double-hour of the greatest “day” of the Precession of 25,900 years (appendix #23).

A new zodiacal sign was termed to “rise” starting from the day of a great conjunction at the place of the “passage.” The marginal point of Greek time-reckoning was the date of the first Olympic Games: they had been founded in memory of the wrestling of Kronos and Zeus. Pausanias said. The celestial constellation, however, ruling the different traditional dates of the first Olympic Games does not justify this claim; in other words, it is not known yet which particular great conjunction it was in the memory of which the Games were supposed to have been introduced. Our own era, the Age of Pisces, started with a great conjunction in Pisces, in the year 6 B.C.

By means of this Trigon, Saturn does give panta ta metra continuously to his “son” Zeus, and this same Trigon appears to be called “gellius” in the Orphic fragment already quoted (155 Kern), where Zeus addresses Kronos wIth the words, “Set in motion our genus, excellent Demon.” And Proclus alluded to it in his statement (ibid.), and Kronos seems to have with him the highest: causes of junctions and separations.”

And still according to Macrobius he was the “originator” of time (Sat. 1.22.8: “Saturnus ipse qui auctor est temporum.”) [n15 See R. Klibansky, E. Panofsky, and R. Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy (1964), pp. 154f. Cf. pp. 333f., with quotations from the Latin translation of Abu Ma’shar, where Saturn “significat . . . quantitates sive mensuras rerum,” and where “eius est . . . rerum dimensio et pondus.”].

So much for Saturn the unalterable planet gliding along his orb. Saturn as the fallen ruler of the Golden Age and retired to Eridu is a much harder proposition. Although there is also evidence to the contrary, there are many indications that the South Pole—Canopus—was taken for static, exempted from the Precession [n16 We have neither time nor space to deal sufficiently with the relevant and copious information on the “joyful” South Pole (see L. Ideler, Sternnamen, pp. 265f.), the “Kotb Suhayl” of the Arabians, called thus after Canopus, which is recognized in Fezzan as “l’étoile primordiale Sahel, identifié au premier ciel contenant les constellations a venir” (V. Paques, L’arbre cosmique [1964], p. 36)-the primordial star, “presented under the form of an egg that contained all the things that were to be born” (Paques, p. 47). To begin discussing the static South Pole, one might well start with the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus,” who were thought to be on board the Argo-even if this is explicitly stated only in very late Turkish tradition (16th century)—particularly from Louis Massignon’s article, “Notes sur les Nuages de Magellan et leur utilisation par les pilotes arabes dans l’Ocean Indien: sous le signe des VII Dormants” (Revue des Etudes lslamiques [1961],” pp. 1-18 = part VII of Massignon’s series of articles on the Seven Sleepers in Islamic and Christian tradition; part I appeared in the same review in 1955, part VIII in 1963), and in the very substantial review article by T. Monad, “Le ciel austral et l’orientation (autour d’un article de Louis Massignon)” (Bulletin de l’lnstitut Francais d’Afrique Noire [1963], vol. 25, ser. B, pp. 415-26). In both articles one finds, besides the surprising notion of the happy South, noteworthy information about human migrations directed toward the South in several continents. Massignon derived the “lucky” significance of the Kotb Suhayl and the Magellanic Clouds from historical events; i.e., from the expectations of exiled and deprived peoples escaping from the perpetual wars and raids in the northern countries: “Nomades ou marins, ces primitifs expatries n’eurent pour guides, dans leur migrations et leur regards desesperes, que les étoiles nouvelles du ciel austral” (1961, p. 12). Monod (p. 422), however, pointed to the crucial key word as given by Ragnar Numelin (Les Migrations Humaines [1939], p. 270n.), who remarked: “Il est possible que beaucoup de ces mysterieuses peregrinations se proposaient comme but de trouver ‘l’étoile immobile’ dont parle la tradition. Le culte de l’Etoile Polaire peut avoir provoque de tels voyages,” annihilating thus with the second sentence the treasure which he had detected in the first. But Massignon and Monod also missed the decisive factor, namely, that the South Pole of the ecliptic is marked by the Great Cloud, and that Canopus is rather near to this south ecliptic pole, whereas the immovable center in the North of the universe is not distinguished by any star, as has been said previously. For the fun of it, a note of Monod’s should be quoted here (p. 4,21): “Quand Voltaire nous dit que Zadig dirigeait sa route sur les etoiles et que ‘la constellation d’Orion, et le brillant astre de Sirius le guidaient vers le pole de Canope’, nous retrouvons dans cette dernière expression un témoignage du role joue par Canopus dans l’orientation astronomique. II n’y a pas lieu, bien entendu, de vouloir la corriger en ‘port de Canope’; cf. Voltaire, Romans et contes, ed. Garnier 1960, note 49, p. 621.”Where shall we ever find security from the “improvements” of philologists;”].

And this would mean—at least it might mean, because it fits so well into those notions of “time and the rivers” –that expired periods return “home” into timelessness, that they flow into eternity whence they came. Access to the Confluence of the Rivers, Mouth and Source of aeons and eras, the true seat of immortality, has always been denied to any aspect of “time, the moving likeness of eternity.” For eternity excludes motion. But from this desired motionless home, source and mouth of times, the world-ruler has to procure the normed measures valid for his age; they are always based on time, as has been said. Again it is the same whether it was Marduk who first “crossed the heavens and surveyed the regions. He squared Apsu’s quarter, the abode of Nudimud [= Ea]. As the lord measured the dimensions of Apsu,” and then erected his palace as the “likeness” of Apsu, or whether it was Sun the Chinese Monkey who fetched his irresistible weapon from the “navel of the deep” ­an enormous iron pillar by means of which, once upon a time, Yu the Great had plumbed out the utmost depth of the sea. In any case, whether the description is sublime or charmingly nonsensical, it is literally the “fundamental” task of the Ruler to “dive” to the topos where times begin and end, to get hold of a new first day.” As the Chinese say, in order to rule over space one has to be master of time.

The reader may suspect by now that Hamlet has been forever forgotten. The way has been long and circuitous, but the connection is still there. Even in so late and damaged a tradition as that of Saxo Grammaticus, every motif once made sense in high and far-off times. If it is difficult to recognize the central significance of the “oar” of Odysseus [n17 Sooner or later, one more object will have to be admitted to the assembly of imperial measuring oars, or gubernacula: the enigmatical Egyptian hpt, the so-called “ship’s device” (Schiffsgerat) of obscure literal meaning, which the Pharaoh brought running to a deity in the ritual of the “oar-race.” There was also a “jar-race” and a “bird-race,” the Pharaoh carrying a water jar or a bird, respectively. In several Pyramid Texts the soul of the dead ruler takes this ship’s device and brings it to another celestial department, while the actual rowing of the boat is done by the stars (Pyr. 2173A, D; see also 284A, 873D, 1346B). See Aeg. Wh., vol. 3, pp. 67-71; A. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (1957), p. 581; M. Riemschneider, Augengott und Heilige Hochzeit (1953), pp. 255f. For the different imperial races, see the (unsatisfying) investigation by H. Kees, Der Opfertanz des Aegyptischen Konigs (1912), pp. 74-90, the “oar-race.”].

How much more difficult is it to spot the “steering oar of Argo” = Canopus-Eridu, in the childish riddle of Amlethus? And yet, the “measuring of the depth of the sea” is there all the time; infant-Kullervo dared to do it with a ladle, coming to the startling result of “three ladles and a little bit more.” And there is an even less suitable measure to be had, a veritable stylus. Jacob Grimm gives the story: “The medieval Dutch poem of Brandaen . . . contains a very remarkable feature: Brandaen met on the sea a man of thumb size, floating upon a leaf, holding in his right hand a small bowl, in the left hand a stylus; the stylus he kept dipping into the sea and letting water drip from it into the bowl; when the bowl was full, he emptied it out, and began filling it again. It was imposed on him, he said, to measure the sea until Judgment day.” [n18 Deutsche Mythologie (1953), pp. 4201373. The English translation (TM, p. 451) makes it “pointer” instead of “stylus”; Grimm has “Griffel.” Cf. K. Simrock, Handbuch der Deutschen Mythologie (1869), § 125, p. 415.]. This particular kind of “instrument” seems to reveal the surveyor in charge in this special case. Mercury was the celestial scribe and guardian of the files and records, “and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation. and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters,” as Plato has it (Phaedrus 274).

It remains to be seen whether or not all the measuring planets can be recognized by their particular methods of doing the measuring. It is known how Saturn does it, and Jupiter. Jupiter “throws,” and Saturn “falls.” But, as was said before, Saturn giving the measures as resident in Canopus is hard to imagine. Maybe all the available keys to this door have not been tried? Observing so many characters occupied with measuring the depth of the sea, one stumbles over the strange name given to Canopus by the Arabs: they call it the weight,” and the Tables of Alphonsus of Castile spell it “Suhel ponderosus,” the heavy-weighing Canopus [n19 “Suhail al wazn.” The epithet “wazn” has been given also to other stars of the southern sky. For ample discussions of this name, see Ideler, pp. 149-51, 163; Allen, pp. 68f.; J. N. Lockyer, The Dawn of Astronomy (1964), p.194; W. T. Olcott, Star Lore of All Ages (1911), p. 133.]. This “weight” is the plumb at the end of the plumb line, by means of which this depth was measured. So far so good. But where does Saturn come in? He can be understood as the “living” plumb line [n20 The strange “beacon” in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, which announced the Fall of Troy, must have been something of this kind; the context excludes absolutely any possible devices of the signal corps.]. This would be hard to believe if the story of this surveying were not told by the plumb line itself, Phaethon. Only when he told it, he had another name, as belongs to the manners and customs of celestial characters: Hephaistos [n21 To avoid misunderstanding, we do not wish to insist upon the absolute identity of the fall of Phaethon and the account of the fall as told by Hephaistos in the first book of the Iliad. We suspect that the verbal image “Jupiter-hurls-down­ Saturn” describes the shaping of the Trigon of great conjunctions, not, however, of the Trigon generally but of that new Trigon whose first angle is established by a conjunction of the Big Two at the beginning of a new world-age. On the other hand, this picturesque formula might cover the shifting of the Trigon of conjunctions from one Triplicity to the next (cf. appendix #23); these highly technical problems cannot be solved yet.].

In the first book of the Iliad (1.5 89ff.), Hephaistos tries to appease his mother Hera who is very angry with her husband Zeus, and says to her:

“It is hard to fight against the Olympian. There was a time once before now I was minded to help you and he caught me by the foot and threw me from the magic threshold, and all day long I dropped helpless, and about sunset I landed in Lemnos, and there was not much life left in me.”

Hephaistos mentions the event once more, when Thetis asks him to forge the shield for her son Achilles (18.39Sff.):

“She saved me when I suffered much at the time of my great fall through the will of my own brazen-faced mother [n22 That is not what Homer says, it is kunopis, dog-eyed; Hera seems to have been near Sirius at that time.], who wanted to hide me for being lame. Then my soul would have taken much suffering had not Eurynome and Thetis caught me and held me. Eurynome, daughter of Ocean, whose stream bends back in a circle. With them I worked nine years as a smith.”

Indentured as a smith again, like Kullervo.

Krates of Pergamon [n23 It is to the credit of Hans Joachim Mette and his work, Sphairopoiia, Untersuchungen zur Kosmologie des Krates van Pergamon (1936), that we find collected every relevant testimonial and fragment concerned with Krates and his topics.] explains this feature in the sense that Zeus aspired to the measurement of the whole world (anametresin tou pantos). He succeeded in determining the measures of the cosmos by “two torches moving with the same speed”: Hephaistos and the Sun. Zeus hurled the former down from the threshold to earth at the same moment when the latter was starting from point east on his way to the west. Both reached their goal at the same time: the Sun was setting when Hephaistos struck Lemnos.

Krates felt convinced that Homer spoke of a sphere, and since he himself was most interested in the coordinate system of the sphere he did not find it strange to interpret in his own sense the shield of Agamemnon (Iliad 11.32f.) and of Achilles (8.468ff.) [n24 See Mette, pp. 30-42, and his introduction.]. He also conceived Odysseus’ sailing from Circe’s island to Hades as a voyage from the Tropic of Capricorn to the South Pole. The idea is not so strange as it might seem. Zeus, establishing the equinoctial colure by hurling down the fictitious “Phaethon,” introduced a new skambha—one remembers Plato about this: “It has the air of a fable. . .” [n25 We cannot discuss here the Homeric wording of the topos from which Zeus threw down Hephaistos: “magic threshold” means nothing, anyhow (apo belou thespesioio); there were ancient scholars who claimed that Krates connected this “belos” with the Chaldean “Bel”/Baal = Marduk. We leave it at Auriga’s chariot, Babylonian narkabtu, the more so, as Marduk, too, used it when tipping over Tiamat. The “Babylonian Genesis” does not tell that Marduk hurled people around, but there is a cuneiform text (VAT 9947) called by Ebeling (Tod und Leben, nf.) “a kind of a calendar of festivals,” where it says: “the 17th is called (day) of moving in, when Bel has vanquished his enemies. The 18th is called (day) of lamentation, at which one throws from the roof Kingu and his 40 sons.” Kingu had the epithet “Enmesharra,” i.e., “Lord of norms and measures”; he was the husband of Tiamat—as Geb was husband of Nut—who gave him the “tablets of fate,” which Marduk was going to take away from him after his victory, and 40 is the number of Enki-Ea (see below, p. 288). The rest is easy to calculate. We are hampered by our inappropriate ideas about “names,” and by the misleading labels settled upon celestial characters by the translators who make Tiamat, Kingu and their clan into “monsters.”].

But there is also Cornford’s idea of the vision of Er [n26 The Republic of Plato, p. 350.], according to which Plato’s “souls actually see in their vision not the universe itself, but a model, a primitive orrery in a form roughly resembling a spindle. . .”

It is sad to observe, and certainly odd, how little scholars trust their own eyes and words—as in the case of Jane Harrison who remarked on the Titans: “They are constantly driven down below the earth to nethermost Tartaros and always reemerging. The very violence and persistence with which they are sent below shows that they belong up above. They rebound like divine india-rubber balls.” [n27 Themis, p. 453f. Cf. for a similar sort of mistrusting one’s own evidence, M. Mayer, Giganten und Titanen, p. 97.]. It is rather evident that these divine india-rubber balls were not really sent below: what was overthrown were the expired ages together with the names of their respective rulers.

But now the galactical stage is empty and it is almost time to watch the working of the next skambha grinding out the “destiny” for the first postdiluvian generation. But before facing the hero of the oldest, the most difficult, and by all means the oddest of epics, there is an interval. We seize the occasion to insert a chapter on methods, presented by means of a well-known episode.


CHAPTER 21
The Great Pan Is Dead

EVERYONE HAS ONCE READ, for it comes up many times in literature, of that pilot in the reign of Tiberius, who, as he was sailing along in the Aegean on a quiet evening, heard a loud voice announcing that “Great Pan was dead.” This engaging myth was interpreted in two contradictory ways. On the one hand, it announced the end of paganism: Pan with his pipes, the demon of still sun-drenched noon, the pagan god of glade and pasture and the rural idyll, had yielded to the supernatural. On the other hand the myth has been understood as telling of the death of Christ in the 19th year of Tiberius: the Son of God who was everything from Alpha to Omega was identified with Pan = “All.” [n1 O. Weinreich (“Zum Tode des Grossen Pan,” ARW 13 [1910] pp. 467-73) has collected the evidence for such strange notions, first found in 1549 (Guillaume Bigot), then three years later in Rabelais’ Pantagruel, and ridiculed in later times, e.g., by Fontenelle, in the beginning of the 18th century: “Ce grand Pan qui meurt sous Tibere, aussi bien que Jesus-Christ, est le Maistre des Demons, dont l’Empire est ruine par cette mort d’un Dieu si salutaire a l’Univers; ou si cette explication ne vous plaist pas, car enfin on peut sans impieté donner des sens contraires a une mesme chose, quoy qu’elle regarde la Religion; ce grand Pan est Jesus-Christ luy-mesme, dont la mort cause une douleur et une consternation generale parmy leg Demons, qui ne peuvent plus exercer leur tirannie sur les hommes. C’est ainsi qu’on a trouve moyen de donner a ce grand Pan deux faces bien differentes” (Weinreich, PP.472-73).].

Here is the story, as told by a character in Plutarch’s dialogue “On why oracles came to fail” (419 B-E):

The father of Aemilianus the orator, to whom some of you have listened, was Epitherses, who lived in our town and was my teacher in grammar. He said that once upon a time in making a voyage to Italy he embarked on a ship carrying freight and many passengers. It was already evening when, near the Echinades Islands, the wind dropped and the ship drifted near Paxi. Almost everybody was awake, and a good many had not finished their after-dinner wine.

Suddenly from the island of Paxi was heard the voice of someone loudly calling Thamus, so that all were amazed. Thamus was an Egyptian pilot, not known by name even to many on board. Twice he was called and made no reply, but the third time he answered; and the caller, raising his voice, said, “When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.” On hearing this, all, said Epitherses, were astounded and reasoned among themselves whether it were better to carry out the order or to refuse to meddle and let the matter go. Under the circumstances Thamus made up his mind that if there should be a breeze, he would sail past and keep quiet, but with no wind and a smooth sea about the place he would announce what he had heard. So, when he came opposite Palodes, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thamus from the stern, looking toward the land, said the words as he heard them: “Great Pan is dead.” Even before he had finished there was a great cry of lamentation, not of one person, but of many, mingled with exclamations of amazement. As many persons were on the vessel, the story was soon spread abroad in Rome, and Thamus was sent for by Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius became so convinced of the truth of the story that he caused an inquiry and investigation to be made about Pan; and the scholars, who were numerous at his court, conjectured that he was the son born of Hermes and Penelope.

Plutarch has not been accepted, and a “simple” explanation was suggested. As the ship drifted along shore by a coastal village, the passengers were struck by the ritual outcry and lamentations made over the death of Tammuz-Adonis, the so-called grain god, as was common in the Middle East in high summer. Other confused shouts were understood by the pilot Thamus as directed to him [n2 See F. Liebrecht, Des Gervasius von Tilbury Otia Imperialia (1856) pp. 179-80; J. G. Frazer, The Dying God (Golden Bough 3), pp. 7f.]. Out of that, gullible fantasy embroidered the tale, adding details for credibility as usual. This sounded good enough. The story had been normalized, that is, disposed of as insignificant.

One is still allowed to wonder why such a fuss was made at the time about exclamations which must have been familiar to contemporaries, and why, unless Plutarch be a liar, that most learned of mythologists, the Emperor Tiberius himself, thought the matter worth following up.

Therefore, with all due respect for the scholars involved, it is worth trying a different tack. One can assume that it was not all background noise, as we say today, but that there was an actual message filtered through: “The Great Pan is dead,” Pan ho megas tethneke, and that it was Thamus who had to announce it.

It was enough of a message for Tiberius’ committee of experts (philologoi) to decide that it referred to Pan, the son of Penelope and of Hermes, number 3 in Cicero’s list given in De natura deorum 3.56 [n3 Tertius Jove tertio natus et Maia, ex quo et Penelopa Pana natum ferunt. cf. also Herodotus 2.145]. Penelope, whoever she really was, must have had quite a life after the events narrated in the Odyssey [n4 As concerns the version according to which Pan was the son of Penelope and all the suitors, Preller remarks (Griechische Mythologie [1964], vol. 1, p. 745): “the repulsive myth.”]. Mythology seems to have been a careful science in those circles.

If it is decided to credit the message, one is led to consider a number of similar stories, some of them collected by Jacob Grimm, but the bulk by Mannhardt [n5 J. Grimm, TM, pp. 453n., 1413f.; cf. pp. 989, 1011-12 (“The Devil’s dead, and anyone can get to heaven unhindered”); W. Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldkulte, vol. 1 (1875), pp. 89-93; vol. 2 (1877), pp. 148ff.]. They are strictly on the level of folktale, which at least preserved their innocence from literate interference. There is a whole set of stories from the Tyrol concerning the “Fanggen,” a kind of “Little People” (or giants), dryads or tree spirits whose existence is bound to trees, so that the felling of such a tree would annihilate a Fangga. They were once willing to live with peasants in the form of servant maids and would bring blessings to the home [n6 Generally, however, they are claimed to show rather revolting habits, such as eating children or disposing of them in another peculiar manner, as, for instance, pulverizing them into snuff. Thus, of one Fangga it is said: “Wenn sie kleine Buben zu fassen bekam, so schnupfte sie dieselben, wie Schnupftabak in ihre Nase, oder rieb sie an alten durren Baumen, die von stechenden Aesten starrten, his sie zu Staub geraspelt waren.” It seems to be a very deep-seated desire of “higher powers” to change divine or human beings into powder and dust.], but would also vanish unaccountably. A favorite story is that of the master of the house coming home and telling the family of a strange message that he has heard from a voice, such as “Yoke-bearer, yoke-bearer, tell the Ruchrinden [Rough-bark] that Giki-Gaki is dead on the Hurgerhorn,” or “Yoke-bearer, yoke-bearer, tell the Stutzkatze [also Stutzamutza, i.e., Docked Cat] Hochrinde [High-bark] is dead.” At which point the housemaid breaks into a loud lament and runs away forever.

Or it might be that while the family was sitting at dinner, a voice called three times through the window: “Salome, come!” and the maid vanished. This story has a sequel: some years later a butcher was coming home at midnight from Saalfelden through a gorge, when a voice called to him from the rocky wall: “Butcher, when you come to such and such a place [zur langen Unkener Wand], call into the crack in the rock: ‘Salome is dead.'” Before dawn the man had come to that point, and he shouted his message three times into the crack. And at once there came from the depths of the mountain much howling and lamentations, so that the man ran home in fear. Sometimes the message delivered is followed by the “flyting” of whole tribes of Little People: it was their “king” whose death had been announced [n7 “No is Pippe Kong dod” (Schleswig); otherwise “Konig Knoblauch” (King Garlic), “King Urban”; “Hipelpipel is dead” (Lausitz); “Mutter Pumpe is tot” (Hessen). Cf. Grimm, p. 453; K. Simrock, Handbuch der Deutschen Mythologie (1869),§ 125, pp. 416f.; F. Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde (1879), p. 257n., who gives additional references. See also P. Herrmann, Deutsche Mythologie (1898), pp. 89f.]. It is remarkable that in most of the cases registered, the master was addressed as “Yoke-bearer.” No one knows why. But the wild woodmaid invariably vanished.

Felix Liebrecht speaks of the ways of certain ghostly werewolves, the “Lubins,” that haunted medieval Normandy. These timid ghosts hunted in a pack, but to little point, for instead of turning on the intruder, they would disperse at the slightest noise, howling: “Robert est mort, Robert est mort.” [n8 Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, p. 257n.]. This meaningless yarn gains perspective once its trail is followed back to the “Wolf ­Mountain” in Arcadia and the Lycaean “Wolf-games”—the parent-festival of the Lupercalia in Rome—held on this Mountain Lykaios. Pan is said to have been born here [n9 Pindar frg. 100 (68); Rhea had borne Zeus there also (Paus. 8.38.2f.), and on top of the mountain was a temenos of Zeus, where nothing and nobody cast a shadow], and here he had a sanctuary. Here also Zeus tilted a “table” –whence the place had the name Trapezous—because Lykaon had served him a dish of human meat, consisting of his own son. Zeus turned Lykaon into a werewolf, and in tilting the “table” caused the Flood of Deukalion, the “table,” of course, being the earth-plane through the ecliptic. This is the significant event of the tale, and the whole is so long no sensible person would try to summarize it.

Next, there is the case of Robert, known as Robert le Diable, allegedly a historical character who was supposed to have spells as a werewolf and then to do penance by “lying in the guise of a dog under the ladder.” And thereby hangs the puzzle of the dynasty of the Scaligeri in Verona (we all remember Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet) whose powerful founder was Can Grande della Scala, “Great Dog of the Ladder,” who became a host to Dante wandering in exile, and a patron of the Divine Comedy. His successors, Mastino, Cansignorio, had dog names too [n10 See O. Hofler, “Cangrande van Verona und das Hundesymbol der Langobarden,” in Festschrift Fehrle (1940), pp. 107-37.]. Now, for the purposes of this essay, this is the end of this line of approach, except for two hints for the future. First, Pythagoras called the planets “the dogs of Persephone.” Second, there is only one huge ladder, the Galaxy, and only one canine character lying under this ladder, Sirius. But at this point we are only ringing bells at random.

What matters here is the tenacious survival of motifs in simple surroundings. Moving one step down in folklore, there is a story spread all over northern Europe (Mannhardt 1, 93) of which this is the English version (the end is from a German variant). A clowder of cats have met in an abandoned broken-down house, where a man is watching them unobserved. A cat jumps on the wall and cries: “Tell Dildrum that Doldrum is dead.” The man goes home and tells his wife. The house cat jumps up and yowls: “Then I am king of cats!” and vanishes up the chimney.

his is how the “body” of tradition survives the death of its “soul,” fractured, with all ideas gone, preserved like flies in amber. Greek gods have become cats and housemaids among illiterate folk; the Powers pass, but the information remains. By checking on the repeats, one has the message of the Voice in the canonic form: “Wanderer, go tell Dildrum that the Great Doldrum is dead.”

The bearer of the message may be an unknown pilot, a passerby, an animal, a watcher. The substance is that a Power has passed away, and that the succession is open. The cosmos has in its own way registered some key event.

For another example of hardly credible survival, there are also the findings of Leopold Schmidt on “Pelops and the Hazel Witch,” [n11 “Pelops und die Haselhexe,” Laos 1 (1951), pp. 67-78.] a collection of tales from the Alpine valleys of Southern Tyrol. It is again about housemaids among peasants. The story goes that a farm servant accidentally watches the dinner of some witches, in which a housemaid is boiled and consumed by her fellow witches. A rib is thrown at the young man, and when after the meal the witches rebuild and revive the girl, this rib is missing and has to be replaced by a hazel branch. At the very moment that the farmhand tells his master that his housemaid is a hazel witch, the housemaid dies. This is no witch hazel trick—it is simply a rehearsing of the archaic tale of Pelops, son of Tantalos, the Titan, who had been boiled and served for dinner by his evil father at the table of the gods. The gods, it is said, kept away from the food that looked suspicious, all except for Demeter, who, lost in her grief for the death of Persephone, absently ate a shoulder blade believing it to be mutton. The gods brought the child back to life. But a shoulder blade was missing and it was replaced by ivory. Pelops went on to become a famous hero, from whom the Peloponnesos was named, and he won the foot race at Olympia from King Oinomaos, thus inaugurating the Olympian games. The two are portrayed before the race on the metope of the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Oinomaos stands there looking stuffy, Pelops relaxed, and above the two the great figure of Apollo with arms outstretched, as if to consecrate the event. But Olympia became holy because it was the site where Zeus overcame his father Kronos [n12 Paus. 5.7.10. It is not from mere “religious” motifs that “in the hippodrome the pillar which marked the starting point had beside it an altar of the Heavenly Twins” (Pind. Olympian Odes 3.36; Paus. 5.15); cf. F. M. Cornford in Harrison (Themis [1962], p. 228); see also above, pp. 206f. n. 5, for the Circus Maximus in Rome.] and threw him down out of the royal chariot.

Near Olympia you can see the Kronion hill, which still bears the imprint of the celestial posterior. Exeunt the official characters. Only the great Olympic Games remained an “international” event which took place every four years and became the Greek way of counting time. What has all that to do with a little fairy housemaid in the Austrian Alps, thousands of years later? Nothing at first glance, and yet, if one dug deeper into the story of this shoulder blade, there would be a good case history to be made [n13 There is not only “moskhou omon chryseion,” the golden shoulder of the ox in the hands of Mithras (Egyptian Maskheti, the Bull’s Thigh, Ursa Major), and Humeri, an antiquated Latin name of Orion, as we know from Varro; the highest god, Amma, of the West Sudanese Dogon (or the Clarias senegalensis, the shadfish, an avatar of the Dogon’s “Moniteur Faro,” whose emblem is the very same as that of ithyphallic Min, the Egyptian Pan) carries in his humeri the first “eight grains,” and these 8 sorts of grain (stereotypically including beans) play their cosmogonic role from the Dogon to China (cf. for another striking similarity of West Sudan and China, the chapter on the “shamanistic” drums, but there are many more). There is also the tale from modern Greece (see J. G. von Hahn, Griechische und Albanische Marchen [1918], vol. 1, pp. 181-84) of the “Son of the shoulder-blade,” one of those “Strong Boys” who, after adventures in spirit land, grinds his mother to porridge on a hand mill. How these and other traditions are connected with the shoulder blade oracle, if they are connected at all, cannot be made out yet.]. Tradition goes on tenaciously, even through ages of submerged knowledge. At least, by now, some distance has been made well away from the fertility rites of Frazer and others, which accounted for things too patly. This is an important gain.

Returning to Plutarch’s text the dialogue’s chatty style gives an impression of casualness, but in these matters Plutarch usually knew more than he cared to discuss. There was a pilot, a kybernetes, giving an announcement from the stern deck (prumne) of his ship. These details seem not to be casual. For there is one stern and one pilot which cannot be overlooked in mythology. The stern is that of the constellation Argo, a ship which consists of a stern and little else. It is understood to be the Ship of the Dead with Osiris on board (he is the strategos of the ship, according to Plutarch’s Isis and Osiris 359 EF), and the Pilot star in the stern is Canopus itself, the site of the great Babylonian god Ea (Sumerian Enki) , its name in Sumerian being mulNUNki, and Enki is the father of Tammuz, which might lead back to the trail.

But the striking thing is that Mesopotamian Canopus bears the name “Yoke-star of the Sea” [n14 See P. F. Gassmann, Planetarium Babylonicum (1950), 281; J. Schaumberger, in Kugler’s 3. Erganzungsheft (1935), p. 325, and n. 2 (one version: the “yoke of Ea”); P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie der Babylonier (1890), pp. 16ff., 25; F. Boll—C. Bezold, Farbige Sterne (1916), p.121.]—the “Yoke-star of the Sky” being Draco. Here then there is a death fate, a pilot, and a yoke-bearer in an unsuspected but suggestive complex. Dealing with such profound experts of archaic myth as Plato and Plutarch, one is not likely to overlook the “Egyptian king Thamus” in Phaedrus (274C-­275B, see below, chapter 23), who drives it home to Thot-Hermes, who was very proud of just having invented writing, that this new art was an extremely questionable gain. It must have been a mighty “king” who dared to criticize Mercury’s merits. But then, the chapter on the Galaxy and the fall of Phaethon will have shown that geographical terms are not to be taken at their face value, least of all “Egypt,” a synonym of the ambiguous Nile.

To find something more about the substance of the message we shall move many centuries back, to a text certainly ancient, but of undetermined date. It is the so-called “Nabataean Agriculture” which has little to do with farming but much to do with agrarian rites. The author, Ibn Wa’shijja, claimed to have derived it from an almost primordial Chaldean source [n15 Actually, he (and others) claimed that the book was written by three (or even more) authors, namely Ssagrit, Janbushad, and Qutama. The first living in the seventh thousand of the 7000 years of Saturn—which he ruled together with the Moon—the second at the end of the same millennium, the third appeared after 4000 years of the 7000-year cycle of the Sun had passed; so that between the beginning and the end of the book 18,000 solar years have passed (according to Maqrizi). See D. Chwolson, Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus (1856), vol. I, pp. 705f. (cf. p. 822 for the special alphabet used by Janbushad). So we are up to another “Tris-megistos,” three times great, not just “thrice.” Time is involved. Hermes is repeated three times historically.]. Modern critics have decided it was a fabrication of uncertain origin, a so-called falsification. Whatever else it may be, original it is not. Such things are built out of traditional material. Maimonides judged it worth quoting at length, Chwolson and Liebrecht analyzed it, comparing it with An-Nadim’s report on the Tammuz festival of the Harranians, held in the month of July and called el-Buqat, the “weeping women.” [n16 Chwolson, vol. 2, pp. 27f., 207, 209.]. Here first is a passage studied by Liebrecht [n17 Zur Volkskunde, pp. 2Sd.]:

It is said that once the Sakain (angels) and the images of the gods lamented over Janbushad, just as all Sakain had lamented over Tammuz. The tale goes that the images of the gods gathered from all corners of the earth in the temple of the Sun, around the great golden image, which hung between heaven and earth. The great image of the Sun was in the middle of the temple, surrounded by the images of the Sun from everywhere, and also by the images of the Moon, then those of Mars, then those of Mercury, of Jupiter, of Venus, and finally of Saturn

[n18 Let us note that the planets are not given in the astronomical order of their periods, but in the order given by the heptagram, which describes the days of the week.].

Chwolson’s part of the text goes on:

This idol (that hung between earth and heaven) fell down at this point and began to lament Tammuz and to recount his story of sorrows. Then all the idols wept and lamented through the night; but on the rising of the morning star, they flew off and returned to their own temples in all corners of the world.

Such is the story which, Liebrecht says, was rehearsed in the temples after prayers, with more weeping and lamentations. This is then the archaic setting. It concerns planetary gods, the great cult of Harran. Two of them stand out, almost ex aequo: Tammuz and Janbushad. Now this latter is no other than Firdausi’s Jamshyd [n19 See Liebrecht, p. 25In: “The Babylonian Izdubar [= Gilgamesh] is called by Ibn Wa’shijja’s Book on the Nabataean Agriculture ‘Janla-Shad’ (Janbushad) , i.e. Jamshid . . . Thus Rawlinson in Athenaeum December 7, 1872.”]. It has been seen already (p. 146) that Jamshyd is in Avestic Yima xsaeta, the name from which came Latin Saturnus. There is no question then, this is about Saturn/Kronos, the God of the Beginning, Yima (Indian Yama), the lord of the Golden Age. A lament over the passing of Kronos would have been in order even in Greece [n20 Cf. the report by Plutarch (Isis and Osiris 363E) on Egypt: There is also a religious lament sung over Cronus. The lament is for him that is born in the regions of the left, and suffers dissolution in the regions on the right; for the Egyptians believe that the eastern regions are the face of the world, the northern the right, and the southern to the left. The Nile, therefore, which runs from the south and is swallowed up by the sea in the north, is naturally said to have its birth on the left and its dissolution on the right.” Kronos having been the ruler of “galactical times” (Geb “inside” Nut), this makes more sense than meets the eye. See also chapter 13, “Of Time and the Rivers.”] since he had been dethroned and succeeded by Zeus.

But who was Tammuz? The grain god dying with the season, the rural Adonis, would hardly fit into such exalted company. Now it is clear he was astronomical first of all. So much has been written about his fertility rites that it took time to locate the real date, given by Cumont [n21 “Adonis et Sirius,” Extrait des Melanges Glotz, vol. 1 (1932), pp. 257-64. But see for the different dates of the Adonia, F. K. Movers, Die Phonizier (1841), vol. 1, pp. 195-218, esp. p. 205.]. The lament over Adonis-Tammuz did not fall simply in “late summer”: it took place in the night between July 19 and 20, the exact date which marked the opening of the Egyptian year, and remained to determine the Julian calendar. For 3000 years it had marked the heliacal rising of Sirius.

Tammuz was extremely durable, for he is found in Sumer as Dumuzi, already the object of the midsummer lamentations. It was seen that he was worshiped as the son of Enki, who was the Sumerian Kronos. The cult went on in Harran as late as the 13th century, long after Mohammedanism had engulfed the Ssabian population. Notwithstanding the severe displeasure of the Caliph of Baghdad, it went through sporadic but intense revivals in an area that spread from Armenia to Quzistan [n22 See Liebrecht, Gervasius von Tilbury, pp. 180-82; Zur Volkskunde, pp. 253ff.; W. Robertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites (1957), p. 412 (lamentations over “the king of the Djinns,” and over “Uncud, Son of the grape cluster”).]. As mentioned, the celebration was called el-Buqat, “the weeping women.” And the lament was mainly over the god who was cruelly killed by being ground between millstones, just like John Barleycorn in the rhyme we quoted earlier [n23 It was Felix Liebrecht who first felt reminded of John Barleycorn.]:

They roasted o’er a scorching fire
The marrow of his bones
But a miller used him worst of all
For he ground him between two stones.

What kind of grinding could it have been? Surely, the lament referred in popular consciousness to the death of a corn god, called also Adonis (the Lord), slain by a wild boar, but the celestial aspect is predominant compared with the agrarian one, and more ancient, too; the more so as that “wild boar” was Mars [n24 See Nonnos 41.208ff. on Aphrodite: “Being a prophet, she knew, that in the shape of a wild boar, Ares with jagged tusk and spitting deadly poison was destined to weave fate for Adonis in jealous madness.” Cf. for the other sources, Movers, vol. 1, pp. 222ff.].

This leaves a knotted story to untangle. It is hampered considerably by too many “identifications” taken for granted by the scholars who with magnificent zeal have extirpated the dimension of time in the whole mythology. Actually, it is not known yet who Tammuz is [n25 To give tiniest minima only: Tammuz = Saturn (Jeremias in Roscher s.v. Sterne, col. 1443); Tammuz = Mars (W. G. Baudissin, Adonis und Esmun [1911], p. 117, quoting the Chronicle of Barhebraeus). For the unheard-of number of names given to “Tammuz” in Mesopotamia, see M. Witzel, Tammuz-Liturgien (1935). For his name “Dragon of the Sky” (Usungal-an-na) = Sin (the Moon) see K. Tallqvist, Akkadische Gotterepitheta (1938), p. 482; see also p. 464, where Tammuz = “Mutterschafbild” (“mothersheep-image”).]. He looks almost like a title, just as “Horus” was a title. There is doubt of his “identity” -as taken in the current sense-with Adonis, and with Osiris [n26 It is worth noticing that the death of Osiris, in his turn, was announced by “the Pans and Satyrs who lived in the region around Chemmis (=Panopolis), and so, even to this day, the sudden confusion and consternation of a crowd is called a panic” (Plutarch: Isis and Osiris, c. 14, 356D).], Attis, Balder [n27 All the gods of the North came together, in best “Nabataean” fashion, to weep over Balder’s death.], and others. The “Nabataean Agriculture” leaves no doubt that there were lamentations over Tammuz and Janbushad/ Jamshyd. The Egyptians lamented on account of Kronos and Maneros [n28 We leave aside, though, the cases Linos, Maneros, Memnon, Bormos, etc. See Movers, vol.1, p.244.] (Herodotus 2.79). Tammuz, after all, is not the only star who came to fall in the course of the Precession. (And was not King Frodhi a repetition of Freyr, Kai Khusrau a repetition of Jamshyd, as Apis was the repetition of Ptah [the Egyptian Saturn-Hephaistos], and Mnevis that of Ra?)

This is a long way from Great Pan, and it is not clear yet who or what was supposed to have passed away in the time of Tiberius, that is, which “Pan.” Creuzer [n29 Symbolik und Mythologie der Alten Volker (1842), vol. 4, pp. 65ff.] claimed right away that he was Sirius—and any suggestion from Creutzer still carries great weight—the first star of heaven and the kingpin of archaic astronomy.

And Aristotle says (Rhet. 2.14, 1401 a 15) that, wishing to circumscribe a “dog,” one was permitted to use “Dog-star” (Sirius) or Pan, because Pindar states him to be the “shape-shifting dog of the Great Goddess” (O makar, honte megalas theou kyna pantodapon kaleousin Olympioi) [n30 See also Plato’s Cratylus408B: ton Pana tou Hermou einai hyon diphye echei to eikos.]. But this is far enough for now. The amazing significance of Sirius as leader of the planets, as the eighth planet [n31 Creuzer takes Pan-Sirius for Eshmun/Shmun, “the eighth,” great god of Chemmis], so to speak, and of Pan, the dance-master (choreutes) as well as the real kosmokrator, ruling over the “three worlds,” [n32 Cf. the Orphic Hymn to Pan (no. 11; see also Hymn 34.25): Pana kala krateron, nomion, kosmoio to sympan/ ouranon ede thalassan ide chthona pam­basileian/ kai pyr athanaton . . . Echous phile . . . pantophyes, genetor panton, polyonyme daimon/ kosmokrator . . . As concerns his love for Echo, Macrobius (Sat. 1.22.7) explains it as harmony of the spheres: quod significat harmoniam caeli, quae soli arnica est, quasi sphaerarum omnium de quibus nascitur moderatori, nec tamen potest nostris umquam sensibus deprehendi. But then, Macrobius was the first among the “sun-struck” mythologists, harmlessly claiming Saturn and Jupiter and everybody else, including Pan, to be the Sun. It is not the echo itself which is the harmony of the spheres but the syrinx—Pan makes it out of the reeds into which his beloved Echo had changed—and the seven reeds of Pan’s pipe are indeed the seven planets, the shortest representing the Moon, the longest Saturn. (It is worth consideration that in China the echo was understood as the acoustical pendant to the shadow, so that under the pillar or tree, in the very center of the world, the kien-mu, there is no echo and no shadow.)] would take a whole volume. The important point is that the extraordinary role of Sirius is not the product of the fancy of silly pontiffs, but an astronomical fact. During the whole 3000-year history of Egypt Sirius rose every fourth year on July 20 of the Julian calendar. In other words, Sirius was not influenced by the Precession, which must have led to the conviction that Sirius was more than just one fixed star among others. And so when Sirius fell, Great Pan was dead.

Now, Creuzer had no monopoly on deriving from Egypt the ideas connected with Pan, nor has the derivation been invented independently here. W. H. Roscher undertook this task in his article on “The Legend of the Death of the Great Pan,” [n33 “Die Legende vom Tode des Grossen Pan,” in Fleckeisens Jahrbucher fur Hassische Philologie (1892), pp. 465-77. Referring to the “Panic” element in Mannhardt’s stories about the Fanggen, Roscher declares it “an accidentally similar motif.”] being convinced that the myth could not be understood by means of Greek Ideas and opinions, the less so, as Herodotus (2.145) informs us of the following:

In Greece, the youngest of the gods are thought to be Heracles, Dionysos, and Pan; but in Egypt Pan is very ancient, and once one of the “eight gods” who existed before the rest [n34 Archaiotatos kai ton okton ton proton legoumenon theon]; HeracIes is one of the “twelve” who appeared later, and Dionysos one of the third order who were descended from the twelve. I have already mentioned the length of time which by the Egyptian reckoning elapsed between the coming of Heracles and the reign of Amasis; Pan is said to be still more ancient, and even Dionysos, the youngest of the three, appeared, they say, 15000 years before Amasis. They claim to be quite certain of these dates, for they have always kept a careful written record of the passage of time. But from the birth of Dionysos, the son of Semele, daughter of Cadmus, to the present day is a period about 1600 years only; from Heracles, the son of Alcmene, about 900 years; from Pan, the son of Penelope—he is supposed by the Greeks to be the son of Penelope and Hermes—not more than about 800 years, a shorter time than has elapsed since the Trojan war [n35 Cf. A. Wiedemann, Herodots zweites Buch (1890), pp. 515-18.].

These details are given, without meddling with them, in order to draw attention to the modest numbers; whoever takes these elapsed years for historical ones [n36 See J. Marsham, Canon chronicus Aegypticus, Ebraicus, Graecus (1672), p. 9: “Immensa Aegyptiorum chronologia astronomica est, neque res gestas sed motus coelestes designat!” See also Ideler (Beobachtungen, 1806), p. 93, Apart from the sensible 17th century, at the beginning of the 19th century still, the progressive delusion was remarkably underdeveloped.], presupposes a special Egyptian (and Babylonian, Indian, etc.) frame of mind, a human nature, in fact, which is fundamentally different from ours, forgetting that we are all members of the very same species, Homo sapiens.


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