Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

through a cavity in their district, over which their ancestors had erected a sacred building. Pausanias notes this. They made this event the subject of an annual ceremony. This is a striking corroboration of the fact of the general belief of the deluge; though national vanity chose to follow its usual course, of localizing among themselves the memorial of its departure.

These authorities are quite sufficient to prove that the public opinion in Greece, transmitted from age to age on this subject, was, that the deluge of Deucalion was a universal catastrophe, whatever other notions any particular author or district may have formed, as better suiting other wishes or conjectures. Deucalion was usually placed at the very beginning of the present human race; for he was always made the son of Prometheus, whom Hesiod represents as the framer of the female sex. The poet of the Argonauticæ describes Deucalion as the first founder of cities; the first builder of temples to the gods, and the first king.

It is a curious connection with the Mosaic intimations of the diluvian ancestors of the renewed human kind, that Prometheus was considered by the Grecian poets as the son of Japetus. Japheth or Japet, is the child of Noah, from whom the Greeks and other nations descended. There is in this Greek genealogy a substitution of the great-grandson for the grandfather, making Deucalion the second descendant of him who was the son of the preserved patriarch; but this is only one of those confusions and mistakes, from lapse of time, of the real circumstances, which so commonly distinguish tradition from authentic history. The Grecians, in their genealogical chronology, placed the deluge under the great-grandson, who may have so moved into and settled in Thessaly, and from thence have gone to Athens, instead of under the actual ancestor, his grandfather, who was with Noah in the ark.

Pindar, in one of his Olympic odes, refers to the same catastrophe, and in words whose just meaning implies the idea of a general destruction of mankind.

We have not the ancient traditions of the Romans on this subject. But Ovid gives us at great length the notions which he patronized and versified upon it in the reign of Augustus ; and as poets who write to please, generally adopt the most popular ideas on the topics they select, we may take his statement as a representation of what was then circulating among his countrymen, and especially the higher order, for he was a courtly author in this respect.

Pliny expressly alludes to the deluge, as an actual occurrence. He speaks of it as we should do, as a well-known and understood era, and as a general overwhelming; for Joppa was in Syria, and not in Greece. Mela and Solinus also notice it as if it had been of this kind, a universal one.

We may infer that the Phenicians had preserved some memory of this catastrophe by their tradition of it at Joppa, and by the fact that it was noticed by Hieronymus the Egyptian, in his Phenician Annals. That it was an object of public belief in Syria, we learn from Lucian's account of its temple at Hierapolis. The narrative there coincided with the Grecian account. But the people of this city ascribed the foundation of their sacred edifice to Deucalion; and added, that the chasm in the ground, over which it was built, had absorbed the waters from the earth : ascribing to their country that local deliverance from them, which Athens appropriated to her own land, and which the Syrians here commemorated in a similar manner; by erecting a temple over the presumed place of their de. parture.

It was a natural consequence, both of such an event and of the transmitted remembrances of it, that some countries would claim to be the locality, where the preserving vessel rested as the tempestuous waters subsided. Parnassus was the mountain reported in part of Greece to be the place where those who escaped were saved. But the highest point of the Armenian chain was supposed by others to be the station on which they descended from the ark. An ancient writer related that the person preserved went from Armenia into Syria. Such pretensions are farther evidences of the diffusion of the persuasion, that a catastrophe like this had occurred to mankind.

Mount Ararat in Armenia has obtained the distinction from most writers of being the position to which Moses alluded in his words, “And the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.”

Among the ancient Persians, the orthodox Magi believed the deluge to have extended over the whole earth, while some of the sects of their superstitions disputed or doubted its universality.

The preceding historical traditions were those of the ancient world: if we extend our view from these to the modern nations who have become prominent around us, we shall find that similar impressions have also prevailed among them, although more mingled with fantastic absurdities, in proportion to the inferiority of their intellectual cultivation, and to the extravagance of their popular superstitions.

The Chinese literature has several notices of this awful catastrophe. The Chou-king, the history of China written by Confucius, opens with a representation of their country being still under the effect of the waters. The opposing school of the Tao-see also speaks of the deluge as occurring under Niu-hoa, whom they make a female. The seasons were then changed : day and night confounded: great waters overspread the universe, and men were re. duced to the condition of fishes. Other Chinese writers refer to the same event. The modern Parsees or Guebres have succeeded to the Magi of antiquity in their fire worship, and to many of their ideas. Their mussulman conquerors drove them out of Persia ; but they have found a home on the northwestern shores of the Indian peninsula, where they pursue their peculiar system.

In one of their sacred books attached to their Zendavesta, the deluge is wildly but obviously alluded to.

The ancient and venerated books of the Hindoos, in their Sanscrit literature, distinctly and copiously commemorate this destruction. It forms a prominent part of their great and revered poem, the Mahabharat. It is also the subject of the first of their Puranas, the sacred writings which they revere next to the Vedas, entitled Matsya, or the Fish. In the eighth book of the Bhagawata Purana, it is also narrated at length, with true Hindoo peculiarities; but the account is remarkable for making eight persons the number of those who were preserved. It is also noticed in others of their venerated Puranas.

Mohammed has preserved the traditions of the old Arabians about it in his Koran, in which it is mentioned in several chapters, and as sent from Heaven as a punishment to mankind. The Turkish writers have also their peculiar narrations about it.

We know as yet but little of the African mind, or ancient history of Africa. Yet in one of its nations, the memory of a deluge has been found to have been preserved.

As the American continent had been possessing for ages a variety of populations in different states of civilized and savage life, unknown to the rest of mankind, and maintaining no relations with them before Columbus revealed the new world to the old one; it is a natural inquiry of our curiosity if any traditions of the deluge existed there. To our surprise we find them in every part. Yet I would correct this expression, because the awful event being an actual truth, it would be surprising if no intimation of it could be traced there. It is therefore quite natural, and it indicates to us the reality of the catastrophe, that both in South and North America traditions prevail about it, sometimes whimsical indeed in the circumstances, but decided as to the fact

The ancient inhabitants of Chili, the Araucanians, make the flood a part of their historical remembrances. The Cholulans, who were in the equinoctial regions of New Spain before the Mexicans arrived there, preserved the idea of it in a fantastic form in their hieroglyphical pictures. The Indians of Chiapa, a region in those parts, had a simpler narrative about it. The Mexicans, in their peculiar paintings, which constituted their books and written literature, had an expressive representation of the catastrophe. The nations con. tiguous to them, or connected with them, had similar records of it, and depict the mountain on which the navigating pair who escaped were saved. It is still more interesting to us to find, that the natives of the province of Mechoacan had their own distinct account of it, which contained the incident of the birds that were let out from the ark to enable Noah to judge of the habitable condition of the earth. These people had also applied another name to the preserved individual, Tezpi, which implies a different source of information for what they narrated. The belief of a flood has also been found to exist in the province of Guatimala. It was also in Peru and Brazil.

We learn from Humboldt, to whom we owe so much knowledge of all sorts of the natives of South America, that the belief prevailed among all the tribes of the Upper Oroonoko, that at the time of what they call “the Great Waters,” their fathers were forced to have recourse to their boats to escape the general inundation. The Ta. manaiks add to their notions of this period, their peculiar ideas of the manner in which the earth was repeopled. Upon the rocks of Encamarada figures of stars, of the sun, of tigers, and of crocodiles, are traced, which the natives connected with the period of this de luge. Humboldt appropriately remarks, that similar traditions exist among all the nations of the earth, and, like the relics of a vast shipwreck, are highly interesting in the philosophical study of our species.

Ideas of the same sort existed in the Island of Cuba, and Kotzebue found them among the rude Pagans of Kamtschatka, at the extremity of the Asian continent. The Peruvians preserved the memory of a general destruction, as far as their own country was concerned, which their neighbors, the Guancas and others, also entertained. In Brazil, there were also various traditions of the diluvian catastrophe, which, though agreeing in fact, differed in the circumstances attending it. In Terra Firma it was also floating in the popular memory, and equally so among the Iroquois in Canada, and at the mouth of the St. Lawrence.

The Arrawak Indians, near the Essequibo and Mazaworry rivers, have preserved traditions both of the separate creation of the first male and female, and also of the deluge; and describe it as caused by the demoralization of mankind.

In North America we find in the various Indian tribes or nations, who spread over it, some memorial intimations of this great event. Captain Beechey found that the natives of California had a tradition of the deluge. The Koliouges, on the northwest coast of America, have also peculiar notions upon it. Sir Alexander Mackenzie heard it from the Chippewyams. The idea prevailed, but with fantastic additions, among the Cree Indians. Mr. West heard a similar account from the natives who attended his school on the Red river. In Western or New Caledonia, which was an unexplored country beyond the rocky mountains in these parts till Mr. Harmon visited them, he found a.vague and wild tradition of the same catastrophe, with the singular addition of a fiery destruction.

In the islands of the South Sea, whose population had no connection with the North American Indians, the belief of the deluge was preserved among them. Ancient traditions of it exist in the Sandwich Islands in various shapes. In Tahiti, it was ascribed to the displeasure of the Deity at human misconduct. It was mentioned in Eimeo, and in a diffuser shape in Raiatea.

ADVERTISEMENT. In conformity to a resolution of the late General Conference to continue the Magazine and Review, we have proceeded to issue the April number. The series, it will be recollected, was interrupted by the destruction of the Book Concern by fire; and the number for April, which was printed and ready for distribution, was destroyed, together with the copy from which it was made up. The present number is consequently of entirely other materials, and is sent out, not as the April number, or any part of it, but only to fill its place, that the regular series may be continued. The general character and design of this periodical may be found in the prospectus at the commencement of the series. As nothing has occurred of sufficient importance to justify any material change in the course therein pointed out, it is unnecessary at this time to say any thing on that subject. As soon as the present number can be despatched, we shall proceed to prepare one for July, and then for October, that the course may be brought up as soon as possible. Meantime the agents will publish the copies that may be wanting of the January number to supply those who may not have received them, and volumes for new subscribers. The inconveniences we labour under at present, and the necessity of hurrying out the first numbers, in order to bring up the series, will, we hope, be an apology for any defects which may be detected in the execution of the work, and also induce our friends to aid in it by furnishing suitable and timely contributions for its pages.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »