Cook, Arthur B.
Zeus: a study in ancient religion (Band 1): Zeus god of the bright sky — Cambridge, 1914

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The Solar Chariot


Strabon1, many years before the establishment of the Olympic
festival (776 B.C.). In its neighbourhood therefore we might look
to find a parallel for the Rhodian bronzes. In point of fact it was
near Calaceite in the province of Teruel that a farm-labourer in
1903 discovered, along with a bronze cuirass and two iron swords,
the remarkable bronze here shown (fig. 264)1 It is a horse which
stands on a wheel and bears on its back a column topped by a
similar wheel, the whole being some 20 cm. in height. Column
and wheels alike are decorated with gitzl/oc/ie-pattems. The former
has a bell-shaped capital and base ; the latter have smaller wheels
serving as spokes. The body of the horse is connected with the
wheel-base by means of a stay or support with spreading foot.
This Iberian bronze may be referred to the ' Dipylon' or 'Villa-
nova ' period of the Early Iron Age, i.e. approximately to the
same date as the Rhodian bronzes. Like them it represents an
animal on the solar wheel, or rather in between a pair of solar
wheels. We are well on the road towards the conception of the
solar chariot.

xii. The Solar Chariot.

The transition from solar wheel to solar chariot was perhaps
facilitated by a half-forgotten belief that the sun itself was a horse.
That belief meets us in the mythologies of various Indo-Europaean
peoples3 and very possibly underlies the Greek practice of offering
horses to Helios4. When the growth of anthromorphism made
men no longer content to regard the sun either as a wheel or as a
horse, it needed no great effort of imagination to combine both
ideas and henceforward to believe in the driver of a celestial
chariot5. \

1 Strab. 654A

2 J. Cabre ' Gbjetos ibericos de Calaceite' in the Boletin de la Real Academia de
Buenas Letras de Barcelona 1908 p. 400 pi., Rev. Arch. 1909 i. 320 f. fig. 10, Jahrb. d.
kais. dentsch. arch. Inst. 1910 xxv Arch. Anz. p. 294 f. fig. 7 (from a photograph of the
bronze as pieced together in the Louvre. Its discoverer, believing it to be of gold, had
broken it into fragments; but fortunately J. Cabre had seen it while yet entire).

3 A. Kuhn Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des Gottertranks^ Gutersloh 1886 p. 5 r ff.,
A. Rapp in Roscher Lex. Myth. i. 1998^, A. A. Macdonell Vedic Mythology Strassburg
1897 p. 31, H. Oldenberg La religion du Vida Paris 1903 pp. 38, 64 ff., 300, E. W.
Hopkins The Religions of India Boston etc. 1895 p. 41, W. Mannhardt Wald-und Feld-
kulte'1 Berlin 1905 ii. 203, E. H. Meyer Gertnanische Mythologie Berlin 1891 pp. 59, 94,
293, R. M. Meyer Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte Leipzig 1910 p. 105.

4 Supra p. 180 n. 5.

5 A. Kuhn op. cit.2 p. 51 ff., A. Rapp loc. cit., J. Dechelette in the Rev. Arch. 1909 i.
307 ff. and Manuel d''arche'ologie Paris 1910 ii. 1. 413 ff.

The conception of Helios as a rider on horse-back is not Greek (pace Rapp loc. cit.
p. 1999), but hails from Asia Minor (Gruppe Gr. Myth. Rel. p. 381 n. 13 and p. 1532
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