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by the abundant emanations of carbonic acid gas which
exhale from the soil. Animals let down into it die in a few
minutes. The whole range of hills is volcanic. Two
neighbouring craters constantly emit smoke.^ In another
crater of Java, near the volcano Talaga Bodas, the sul-
phureous exhalations have proved fatal to tigers, birds, and
countless insects ; and the soft parts of these creatures, such
as fibres, muscles, hair, and skin, are well preserved, while
the bones are corroded or destroyed.^

The ancients were acquainted with such noxious vapours places of
in their own country, and they regarded the vents from ^^^°°l
which they were discharged as entrances to the infernal
regions.* The Greeks called them places of Pluto {Plutonid)
or places of Charon {Charonid)!' In Italy the vapours were

enterprise, and the Lacedaemonians Alexander Loudon," Journal of the

were never a seafaring folk. See C. Royal Geographical Society, ii. (1832)

Neumann und J. Partsch, Physikalische pp. 60-62 ; Sir Ch. Lyell, Principles

Geographic von Griechenlatid, pp. of Geology,^^ i. 590.
330 J-?., 335^7- For Laconian sane- ^ Sir Cli. Lyell, I.e.

tuaries of Poseidon see Pausanias, * Lucretius, vi. 738 sqi].

iii. II. 9, iii. 12. 5, iii. 14. 2 and 7, ' Strabo, v. 4. 5, p. 244, xii. 8. 17,

iii. 15. 10, iii. 20. 2, iii. 21. 5, p. 579. xiil. 4. 14, P- 629, xiv. i. ii

iii. 25. 4. ^n'' 44' PP- ^3^' ^49 ' Cicero, De

1 Sir Ch. Lyell, Principles of divinatione, i. 36. 79 ; Pliny, Nat.
Geology,^^ i. 391 sqq., 590. ffist. ii. 208. Compare [Aristotle,]

2 " Extract from a Letter of Mr. P>e miindo, 4, p. 395 B, ed. Bekker.



170 WORSHIP OF MEPHITIC VAPOURS book i

personified as a goddess, who bore the name of Mefitis and

was worshipped in various parts of the peninsula.^ She had a

The temple in the famous valley of Amsanctus in the land of the

valley of Hirpini, where the exhalations, supposed to be the breath

Amsanctus. r > > i i

of Pluto himself, were of so deadly a character that all who
set foot on the spot died.^ The place is a glen, partly wooded
with chestnut trees, among limestone hills, distant about four
miles from the town of Frigento. Here, under a steep
shelving bank of decomposed limestone, there is a pool of
dark ash - coloured water, which continually bubbles up
with an explosion like distant thunder. A rapid stream of
the same blackish water rushes into the pool from under
the barren rocky hill, but the fall is not more than a few
feet. A little higher up are apertures in the ground,
through which warm blasts of sulphuretted hydrogen are
constantly issuing with more or less noise, according to the
size of the holes. These blasts are no doubt what the ancients
deemed the breath of Pluto. The pool is now called Mefite
and the holes Mefitinelle. On the other side of the pool
is a smaller pond called the Coccaio, or Cauldron, because
it appears to be perpetually boiling. Thick masses of
mephitic vapour, visible a hundred yards off, float in rapid
undulations on its surface. The exhalations given off by
these waters are sometimes fatal, especially when they are
borne on a high wind. But as the carbonic acid gas does
not naturally rise more than two or three feet from the
ground, it is possible in calm weather to walk round the
pools, though to stoop is difficult and to fall would be
dangerous. The ancient temple of Mefitis has been re-
placed by a shrine of the martyred Santa Felicita.'
Sanctuaries Similar discharges of poisonous vapours took place at
or Pluto various points in the volcanic district of Caria, and were the

in Cana. i Servius on Virgil, Aen. vii. 84, the commentary of Servius ; Cicero,

who says that some people looked on De divinatione, i. 36. 79 ; Pliny,

Mefitis as a god, the male partner of Nat. Hist. ii. 208.
Leucothoe, to whom he stood as

Adonis to Venus or as Virbius to ^ Letter of Mr. Haniihon (British

Diana. As to Mefitis see L. Preller, Envoy at the Court of Naples), in

Romische Mylhologie,^ ii. 144 sq. ; Journal of the Roya! Geographical

R. Peter, in W. H. Roscher's Lexikort Society, ii. (1832) pp. 62-65 ; W.

d. griech. und rom. Mythologie, ii. 9im\Vn's Dictionary of Greek and Roman

2519 sgq. Geography, \. 127; H. "t^issen, Italische

2 Virgil, Aen. vii. 563-571, with Landeskunde, i. 242, 271, ii. 819 jy.



CHAP. VIII WORSHIP OF MEPHITIC VAPOURS lyi

object of superstitious veneration in antiquity. Thus at
the village of Thymbria there was a sacred cave which gave
out deadly emanations, and the place was deemed a sanctuary
of Charon.^ A similar cave might be seen at the village of
Acharaca near Nysa, in the valley of the Maeander. Here,
below the cave, there was a fine grove with a temple dedi-
cated to Pluto and Proserpine. The place was sacred to
Pluto, yet sick people resorted to it for the restoration of
their health. They lived in the neighbouring village, and
the priests prescribed for them according to the revelations
which they received from the two deities in dreams. Often
the priests would take the patients to the cave and leave
them there for days without food. Sometimes the sufferers
themselves were favoured with revelations in dreams, but
they always acted under the spiritual direction of the priests]
To all but the sick the place was unapproachable and fatal.
Once a year a festival was held in the village, and then
afflicted folk came in crowds to be rid of their ailments.
About the hour of noon on that day a number of athletic
young men, their naked bodies greased with oil, used to
carry a bull up to the cave and there let it go. But the
beast had not taken a few steps into the cavern before it
fell to the ground and expired : so deadly was the vapour.^

Another Plutonian sanctuary of the same sort existed at Sanctuary
Hierapolis, in the upper valley of the Maeander, on the "^/l^'j;^^
borders of Lydia and Phrygia.^ Here under a brow of the or Phrj'gian
hill there was a deep cave with a narrow mouth just large "'^'■^p°''=-
enough to admit the body of a man. A square space in
front of the cave was railed off, and within the railing there
hung so thick a cloudy vapour that it was hardly possible to
see the ground. In calm weather people could step up
to the railing with safety, but to pass within it was instant
death. Bulls driven into the enclosure fell to the earth and
were dragged out lifeless ; and sparrows, which spectators by

1 Strabo, xiv. i. II, p. 636. bourhood, for he tells us (xiv. i. 48, p.

2 Ibid. xiv. I. 44, pp. 649 s^. 650) that in his youth he studied at Nysa
A coin of Nysa shows the bull carried under the philosopher Aristodemus.

to the sacrifice by six naked youths and

preceded by a naked flute-player. See ■'' Some of the ancients assigned

B. V. Head, Calalogiie of the Greek Hierapolis to Lydia, nnd others to

Coins of Lydia, '^■^.\xyiyi\x\. 181, pi. xx. Phrygia (W. M. Ramsay, Cities and

10. Strabowas familiar with this neigh- Bishoprics of Phrygia, \. %i, sq.).



172 WORSHIP OF MEPniTIC VAPOURS book:

way of experiment allowed to fly into the mist, dropped dead
at once. Yet the eunuch priests of the Great Mother Goddess
could enter the railed-off area with impunity ; nay more, they
used to go up to the very mouth of the cave, stoop, and
creep into it for a certain distance, holding their breath ; but
there was a look on their faces as if they were being choked.
Some people ascribed the immunity of the priests to the
divine. protection, others to the use of antidotes.^



§ 7. Worship of Hot Springs

The hot The mysterious chasm of Hierapolis, with its deadly

f«trife(r° mist, has not been discovered in modern times ; indeed it
cascades of would Seem to have vanished even in antiquity.^ It may
■ have been destroyed by an earthquake. But another marvel
of the Sacred City remains to this day. The hot springs
with their calcareous deposit, which, like a wizard's wand,
turns all that it touches to stone, excited the wonder of the
ancients, and the course of ages has only enhanced the
fantastic splendour of the great transformation scene. The
stately ruins of Hierapolis occupy a broad shelf or terrace
on the mountain-side commanding distant views of extra-
ordinary beauty and grandeur, from the dark precipices and
dazzling snows of Mount Cadmus away to the burnt summits
of Phrygia, fading in rosy tints into the blue of the sky.
Hills, broken by wooded ravines, rise behind the city.
In front the terrace falls away in cliffs three hundred feet
high into the desolate treeless valley of the Lycus. Over
the face of these cliffs the hot streams have poured or
trickled for thousands of years, encrusting them with a
pearly white substance like salt or driven snow. The
appearance of the whole is as if a mighty river, some two
miles broad, had been suddenly arrested in the act of falling
over a great cliff and transformed into white marble. It
is a petrified Niagara. The illusion is strongest in winter
or in cool summer mornings when the mist from the

1 Strabo, xiii. 4. 14, pp. 629 sg. ; 2 Ammianus Marcellinus (/.<:.) speaks

Dio Cassius, Ixviii. 27. 3 ; Pliny, Nat. as if the cave no longer existed in his

Hist. ii. 208 ; Amnnianus Marcellinus, time,
xxiii. 6. 18.



CHAP, vin WORSHIP OF HOT SPRINGS 173

hot springs hangs in the air, like a veil of spray resting
on the foam of the waterfall. A closer inspection of the
white cliff, which attracts the traveller's attention at a
distance of twenty miles, only adds to its beauty and
changes one illusion for another. For now it seems to be
a glacier, its long pendent stalactites looking like icicles,
and the snowy whiteness of its smooth expanse being tinged
here and there with delicate hues of blue, rose and green,
all the colours of the rainbow. These petrified cascades of
Hierapolis are among the wonders of the world. Indeed
they have probably been without a rival in their kind ever
since the famous white and pink terraces or staircases of
Rotomahana in New Zealand were destroyed by a volcanic
eruption some twenty years ago.

The hot springs which have wrought these miracles at The hot
Hierapolis rise in a large deep pool among the vast and Hieiapoiis
imposing ruins of the ancient city. The water is of a "i'h its
greenish - blue tint, but clear and transparent. At the exhaia-
bottom may be seen the white marble columns of a beauti- "°"5-
ful Corinthian colonnade, which must formerly have en-
circled the sacred pool. Shimmering through the green-blue
water they look like the ruins of a Naiad's palace. Clumps
of oleanders and pomegranate-trees overhang the little lake
and add to its charm. Yet the enchanted spot has its
dangers. Bubbles of carbonic acid gas rise incessantly from
the bottom and mount like ihckering particles of silver to
the surface. Birds and beasts which come to drink of the
water are sometimes found dead on the bank, stifled by
the noxious vapour ; and the villagers tell of bathers who
have been overpowered by it and drowned, or dragged
down, as they say, to death by the water-spirit.

The streams of hot water, no longer regulated by the Deposits
care of a religious population, have for centuries been ^^^^^^J^ ^'^
allowed to overflow their channels and to spread unchecked Hierapolis.
over the tableland. By the deposit which they leave behind
they have raised the surface of the ground many feet, their
white ridges concealing the ruins and impeding the footstep,
except where the old channels, filled up solidly to the brim,
now form hard level footpaths, from which the traveller may
survey the strange scene without quitting the saddle. In



174 WORSHIP OF HOT SPRINGS book i

antiquity the husbandmen used purposely to lead the water in
rills round their lands, and thus in a few years their fields and
vineyards were enclosed with walls of solid stone. The water
was also peculiarly adapted for the dyeing of woollen stuffs.
Tinged with dyes extracted from certain roots, it imparted to
cloths dipped in it the finest shades of purple and scarlet.''
Hercules We canfiot doubt that Hierapolis owed its reputation as

of hm"™ ^ holy city in great part to its hot springs and mephitic
springs. vapours. The curative virtue of mineral and thermal springs
was well known to the ancients, and it would be interesting,
if it were possible, to trace the causes which have gradually
eliminated the superstitious element from the use of such
waters, and so converted many old seats of volcanic religion
into the medicinal baths of modern times. It was ah article
of Greek faith that all hot springs were sacred to Hercules.^
" Who ever heard of cold baths that were sacred to Hercules .' "
asks Injustice in Aristophanes ; and Justice admits that the
brawny hero's patronage of hot baths was the excuse alleged
by young men for sprawling all day in the steaming water
when they ought to have been sweating in the gymnasium.^
Hot springs were said to have been first produced for the
refreshment of Hercules after his labours ; some ascribed
the kindly thought and deed to Athena, others to Hephaestus,
and others to the nymphs.* The warm water of these

' Strabo, xiii. 4. 14, pp. 629, 630; springswhichhaveproduced phenomena

Vitruvius, viii. 3. 10. For modern like those of Hierapolis. Indeed the

descriptions of Hierapolis see R. whole ground is in some places coated

Chandler, Travels in Asia Minor ^ over with tufa and travertine, which

(London, 1776), pp. 228-235; Ch. have been deposited by the water, and.

Fellows, Journal written dtiring an like the ground at Hierapolis, it sounds

Excursion in Asia Minor (London, hollow under the foot. See Sir Ch.

J 839), pp. 283-285; W. J. Hamilton, Lyell, Principles of Geolog}',^'^ i. 397

Researches in Asia Minor, Pontus, sqq. As to the terraces of Rotoma-

and Armenia, i. 517-521; E. Renan, hana in New Zealand, which were

Saint Paul, ■i^'g. 357 J-?. ; E.J.Davis, destroyed by an eruption of Mount

Anatolica CLondon, 1874), pp. 97-1 12 ; Taravera in 1886, see R. Taylor, Te

E. Reclus, Nouvelle Giographie Utii- Ika A Maui, or New Zealand and its

verselle, ix. 510-512; W. Cochran, Inhabitants,^ -p^. nd/^-^e^
Pen and Pencil Sketches in Asia Minor ^ Athenaeus, xii. 6. p. 512.

(London, 1887), pp. 387-390 ; W. 3 Aristophanes, Clouds, 1044-1054.

M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of * Scholiast on Aristophanes, Clouds,

Phrygia, \. 84 sqq. The temperature 1050 ; Scholiast on Pindar, Olynip.

of the hot pool varies from 85 to xii. 25 ; Suidas and Hesychius, s.v.

90 degrees Fahrenheit. The volcanic 'Hpd/cXeia \ovTpd ; Apostolius, viii. 66 ;

district of Tuscany which skirts the Zenobius, vi. 49 ; Diogenianus, v. 7 ;

Apennines abounds in hot calcareous Plutarch, Proverbia Alexajidrinorum,



CHAP, viii WORSHIP OF HOT SPRINGS 175

sources appears to have been used especially to heal diseases
of the skin ; for a Greek proverb, " the itch of Hercules,"
wras applied to persons in need of hot baths for the scab.^
On the strength of his connection writh medicinal springs
Hercules set up as a patron of the healing art. In heaven,
if we can trust Lucian, he even refused to give place to
Aesculapius himself, and the difference between them led
to a very unseemly brawl. " Do you mean to say,"
demanded Hercules of his father Zeus, in a burst of
indignation, " that this apothecary is to sit down to
table before me ? " To this the apothecary replies with
much acrimony, recalling certain painful episodes in the
private life of the burly hero. Finally the dispute is
settled by Zeus, who decides in favour of Aesculapius on
the ground that he died before Hercules, and is therefore
entitled to rank as senior god.^

Among the hot springs sacred to Hercules the most Hot
famous were those which rose in the pass of Thermopylae, ^eixuLs'^
and gave to the defile its name of the Hot Gates.^ The at Thermo-
warm baths, called by the natives " the Pots," were enlarged ^^ ^^'
and improved for the use of invalids by the wealthy sophist
Herodes Atticus in the second century of our era. An
altar of Hercules stood beside them.* According to one
story, the hot springs were here produced for his refreshment
by the goddess Athena.' They exist to this day apparently
unchanged, although the recession of the sea has converted
what used to be a narrow pass into a wide, swampy flat,
through which the broad but shallow, turbid stream of the
Sperchius creeps sluggishly seaward. On the other side
the rugged mountains descend in crags and precipices to the
pass, their grey, rocky sides tufted with low wood or bushes
wherever vegetation can find a foothold, and their summits
fringed along the sky-Hne with pines. They remind a
Scotchman of the "crags, knolls, and mounds confusedly

21 ; Diodorus Siculus, iv. 23. i, v. 3, ^ L„cian, Dialogi Deorum, 13.

4. Another story was that Hercules, 3 Strabo, ix. 4. 13, p. 428.

like Moses, produced the water by 4 „ , . ■• »^ n

smiting the rock with his club (Anto- . Herodotus v.i. 176; Pausanias

ninus Liberalis, Transform. 4). ??'• 35- 9; rh.lostratus, Vzt. Sophtst.

1 Apostolius, viii. 68; Zenobius, "• '• 9-

vi. 49 ; Diogenianus, v. 7 ; Plutarch, ^ Scholiast on Aristophanes, Clouds,

Proverbia Alexandrinorum, 21. 1050.



176 WORSHIP OF HOT SPRINGS book i

hurled " in which Ben Venue comes down to the Silver
Strand of Loch Katrine. The principal spring bursts from
the rocks just at the foot of the steepest and loftiest part of
the range. After forming a small pool it flows in a rapid
stream eastward, skirting the foot of the mountains. The
water is so hot that it is almost painful to hold the hands
in it, at least near the source, and steam rises thickly from
its surface along the course of the brook. Indeed the
clouds of white steam and the strong sulphurous smell
acquaint the traveller with his approach to the famous spot
before he comes in sight of the springs. The water is clear,
but has the appearance of being of a deep sea-blue or sea-
green colour. This appearance it takes from the thick,
slimy deposits of blue-green sulphur which line the bed of
the stream. From its source the blue, steaming, sulphur-
reeking brook rushes eastward for a few hundred yards at
the foot of the mountain, and is then joined by the water of
another spring, which rises much more tranquilly in a sort
of natural bath among the rocks. The sides of this bath
are not so thickly coated with sulphur as the banks of the
stream ; hence its water, about two feet deep, is not so blue.
Just beyond it there is a second and larger bath, which, from
its square shape and smooth sides, would seem to be in part
artificial. These two baths are probably the Pots mentioned
by ancient writers. They are still used by bathers, and
a few wooden dressing-rooms are provided for the accommoda-
tion of visitors. Some of the water is conducted in an artificial
channel to turn a mill about half a mile off at the eastern end
of the pass. The rest crosses the flat to find its way to the
sea. In its passage it has coated the swampy ground with
a white crust, which sounds hollow under the tread.'^
Hot We may conjecture that these remarkable springs

Hercules at famished the principal reason for associating Hercules with
Aedepsus. this district, and for laying the scene of his fiery death on
the top of the neighbouring Mount Oeta. The district is

1 I have described Thermopylae as Fiedler, Reise durch alle Theih des

I saw it in November 1895. Compare Konigreichs Griechetiland, i. 207 sqq. ;

W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern L. Ross, lieisen des Konigs Otto in

Greece, ii. 33 sqq. ; E. Dodwell, Griechenland, i. 90 sqq. ; C. Bursian,

Classical and Topographical Tmir Geographie von Griechenland, i. 92

'Ji Greece, ii. 66 sqq. ; K. G. sqq.



CHAP. VIII WORSHIP OF HOT SPRINGS 177

volcanic, and has often been shaken by earthquakes.^ Across
the strait the island of Euboea has suffered from the same
cause and at the same time ; and on its southern shore
sulphureous springs, like those of Thermopylae, but much
hotter and more powerful, were in like manner dedicated to
Hercules.^ The strong medicinal qualities of the waters,
which are especially adapted for the cure of skin diseases
and gout, have attracted patients in ancient and modern
times. Sulla took the waters here for his gout ; ^ and
in the days of Plutarch the neighbouring town of
Aedepsus, situated in a green valley about two miles from
the springs, was one of the most fashionable resorts of
Greece. Elegant and commodious buildings, an agreeable
country, and abundance of fish and game united with the
health-giving properties of the baths to draw crowds of
idlers to the, place, especially in the prime of the glorious
Greek spring, the height of the season at Aedepsus.
While some watched the dancers dancing or listened to the
strains of the harp, others passed the time in discourse,
lounging in the shade of cloisters or pacing the shore of
the beautiful strait with its prospect of mountains beyond
mountains immortalised in story across the water.* Of all
this Greek elegance and luxury hardly a vestige remains.
Yet the healing springs flow now as freely as of old. In
the course of time the white and yellow calcareous deposit
which the water leaves behind it, has formed a hillock at the
foot of the mountains, and the stream now falls in a steam-
ing cascade from the face of the rock into the sea.^ Once,
after an earthquake, the springs ceased to flow for three days,
and at the same time the hot springs of Thermopylae dried

1 Thucydides, iii. 87 and 89; Strabo, ' piutarch, Stdla, 26.

i. 3. 20, pp. 60 sq. ; C. Neumann und * Plutarch, Quaest. Conviviales, iv.

T ipart'sch, Physikalische Geographie ^. 1 ; id., De fraterno Ainore, iT.
von Griechenland, pp. 321-323- ^ ^s to the hot springs of Aedepsus

2 Aristotle, Meteora, ii. 8, p. 366 A, (the nnodern Lipso) see K. G. Fiedler,
ed. Bekker ; Strabo, ix. 4. 2, p. 425. Reise durch alle Theile des Konigreichi
Aristotle expressly recognised the con- Griechenland, i. 487 - 492 ; H. N.
nection of the springs with earthquakes, Ulrichs, Reisen und Forschungen in
which he tells us were very common in Griechenland, ii. 233-235 ; C. Bursian,
this district. As to the earthquakes of Geographie von Griechenland, ii. 409 ;
Euboea see also Thucydides, iii. 87, C. Neumann und J. Tartsch, Phy-
8q • Strabo i. 3. 16, and 20, pp. 58, sikalische Geographie von Griechenland,
60 'sq. ' ■ ■ ' pp. 342-344.

N



178 WORSHIP OF HOT SPRINGS book i

up.^ The incident proves the relation of these Baths of
Hercules on both sides of the strait to each other and to
volcanic agency. On another occasion a cold spring suddenly-
burst out beside the hot springs of Aedepsus, and as its
water was supposed to be peculiarly beneficial to health,
patients hastened from far and near to drink of it. But
the generals of King Antigonus, anxious to raise a revenue,
imposed a tax on the use of the water ; and the spring, as
if in disgust at being turned to so base a use, disappeared as
suddenly as it had come.^
Reasons The association of Hercules with hot springs was not

association Confined to Greece itself Greek influence extended it to
of Hercules Sicily,^ Italy,* and even to Dacia.^ Why the hero should
springs. have been chosen as the patron of thermal waters, it is hard
to say. Yet it is worth while, perhaps, to remember that
such springs combine in a manner the twofold and seemingly
discordant principles of water and fire,^ of fertility and
destruction, and that the death of Hercules in the flames
seems to connect him with the fiery element. Further, the
apparent conflict of the two principles is by no means as
absolute as at first sight we might be tempted to suppose ;
for heat is as necessary as moisture to the support of
animal and vegetable life. Even volcanic fires have their
beneficent aspect, since their products lend a more generous
flavour to the juice of the grape. The ancients themselves,

^ Strabo, i. 3. 20, p. 60. siderable remains, were sacred to
2 Athenaeus, iii. 4, p. 73, E, D. Hercules. See G. Wilmanns, Exempla
5 The hot springs of Himera (the Inscriptionum Latinarum, No. 735 c ;
modern Termini) v/eie said to have H. Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, ii.
been produced for the refreshment of 798. It is characteristic of the volcanic
the weary Hercules. See Diodorus nature of the springs that the same
Siculus, iv. 23. I, V. 3. 4 ; Scholiast on inscription which mentions these baths
Pindar, Olymp. xii. 25. The hero is of Hercules records their destruction by-
said to have taught the Syracusans to an earthquake,
sacrifice a bull annually to Proserpine k tt i-s , . .



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