Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUniversitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Evans, Arthur
The earlier religion of Greece in the light of Cretan discoveries — London, 1931

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the special sanctity of outstanding peaks and rocks, and
notably of caves—the actual entrance passages of the
Underworld—is itself of world-wide distribution. The folk-
lore of our own country and of the Celtic West—as of the
Iberian before it—is, as is well known, deeply rooted in
such beliefs.

So far as the ancient Greeks were concerned, much of
the primitive Religion of this class must have been brought
with them from the more Northerly regions from which
they originally reached Hellas. At the time when our
knowledge of the Greek world becomes really full, the
artistic spirit of the race had largely transformed the
original ' stocks and stones' that had been the earlier
objects of worship 1 and they appear at most as survivals,
doubled by the divinity in perfect human shape. Apollo,
beneath his bay-tree, gracefully leans against the column
or sits on his omphalos, both the one and the other
of which had once stood as his visible impersonation.
So, too, the Zeus of Mount Lykaios retained his earlier
material manifestation in the twin pillars that stood on its
peak, while elsewhere his rude Arcadian worshippers con-
tented themselves with a square block, such as that on
which Minoan Genii are in one case seen pouring their
libations. In his form of KaTTncoras we seem to have a
record of an actual meteoric stone. It is needless here to
cite such other well-known examples as the two posts
with cross-pieces that stood for the Heavenly Twins
among the Spartans, or the dpyos XWos that was the oldest
image of Eros at Thespiae.

How far were such aniconic idols actual local survivals ?
That the immigrant Greeks had brought with them
primitive religious conceptions of this class is a proposi-
tion that can hardly be disputed. Yet it is clear that in
the case of heavy blocks, often imperfectly hewn out or of

1 See on this Farnell, The Cults of the Greek States, i, p. 13 seqq., &c,
and Nillson, The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion and its survival in Greek
Religion, pp. 201 seqq.