BLTC Press Titles


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Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


Vanity Fair

William Thackery


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


Goethe's Faust

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Excerpt:

A god without name was an anomaly in Egypt, even in the days of Moses (Exod. iii. 13); and the Eumenides hardly form an exception to the rule in Greece, since these goddesses collectively had no other name, and singly, were never worshipped. That the Cabiri were identical with the Abiri of Abury in Wiltshire, is admitted by all competent authorities from Cooke to Faber: but the latter discards and disproves the assumption of the former, that the Cabiri were a Triad. Upon this part of the question there is so much uncertainty, arising out of the ignorance of the Greeks, some of whom reckon three, others seven, and others eight Cabiric divinities, that Gothe takes occasion by it, of throwing ridicule upon the whole fable.

The fact is simply this, that the Greeks were utterly ignorant of the Cabiric mythology, referring, as it did, to a worship which had become per se extinct before the age of authentic history: and the scattered fragmentary allusions in Sanchoniathon, in the Orphic Hymns, &c, state nothing very distinctly.

Under these circumstances we are left to conjecture: and modern discoveries may help us not a little towards the truth.

By the diligence and ingenuity of Dr. Stukely, the original form of the temple of Abury has been determined to have been that of a serpent passing through a circle: or a circle, from which issued two serpentine avenues, one of them terminating in an oval, which was the serpent's head. This

XX NOTE ON THE CABIRI.

was a temple of the Abiri. Who were they? The plural form of the word points out a plurality of gods, whose names arc to be found in the remaining syllables Abir. Admitting the Ophite theory of Bryant and Faber, Abir was the name of the united gods A B, and u R: i.e. the Serpent and the Sun. The figure of the temple, which we may suppose was the heirogram of its god, corroborates this conjecture.

The Cabiri, then, if identical with the Abiri, were the Sun and the Serpent. And the difficulty arising from the prefix C may be met by supposing with Bryant,* that Ca is to be interpreted domus or templum. Cabiri, upon this supposition, would be " The Temple of the Solar Serpent;" or " The Temple of the Sun and Serpent."

Ca, or Ga " domus" is, according to Bryant, a common prefix, and he instances Chaeops, (Ca-Ops), Ga-Gamel, &c., the second of which words is similarly interpreted by Plutarch.

The tradition preserved by Strabo, that the Cabiri came from Colchis, is a further argument in favour of their identity with the Abiri. For the Dragon of Colchis was neither more nor less than a Dracontium, or temple of the same order as that of Abury or Carnac.

To this we may add the fact, that all the gods to whom the Greeks have ascribed the Samothracian temples, were symbolised by a serpent.

The Encyclopedia Metropolitana, under the article "Serpent Worship," has a compendious statement of the Ophite theory as now commonly received: to which the reader of this note is referred for further information.

Analysis, i. 122.

FAUST.

PART II.

ACT I.—Scene 1.

A beautiful landscapeFaust bedded upon a flowery grass-plot, tired, restless, striving to sleep.

TWILIGHT.

A band of Spirits, beautiful little creatures, hover around.
Ariel (sings, accompanied by AHolian harps).

When the vernal shower of blossoms
Over all things hovering sinks;
When the meadow's verdant blessing
Shines on all the sons of earth;
Little elfins' spiritgreatness
Hastens where it can assist;
Whether holy, whether evil,
Him they mourn whom grief afflicts.


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