By Martin Persson Nilsson
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Extra info for A History of Greek Religion
The motif occurs still more baldly in the tales of the cosmogony, which have preserved more of their primitive crudity than the heroic tales. They were not, like the latter, rationalized and refined in courtly circles, but were first related by the meditative peasant~ GREEK RELIGION poet, Hesiod. From the drops of blood of the mutilated Uumos the earth gIVes bIrth to the creatures for which mythology had no father ready to hand-furies, giants, the nymphs, and the wood-nymphs, the :Meliae. From the foam which formed when his genitalia were cast into the sea, Aphrodite' arises.
Another well-known feature of the myths concerning vegetation spirits is the holy marriage, which in the Greek myth is that of Zeus and Hera. This marriage was celebrated at Knossos and was also said to have taken place at Gortyn beneath an evergreen plane-tree. The bride of Zeus at Gortyn is commonly called Europa; the coins of the town represent her a" seated in a tree with Zeus approaching her ~~ C GREEK 34 RELIGION in the guise of an eagle. This Minoan bird-E'piphany recurs in other myths; as a cuckoo Zeus won the love of Hera in Argos, and as a swan he deceived Leda.
This epic, reflecting life and legends from the Ionian merchant-cities, has much more of the folk-tale in our sense of the term than the chivalric Iliad, which moves withm the circles of the royal courts. The ideas of taboo, which play so great a part in folk-tales, are also rare in the Greek myth. A certain word must not be mentioned, a room must not be entered, and the transgression of this command forms the turning-point of the tale. There is an example, however, in the Psyche story, where Psyche must not look upon her bridegroom by daylight.
A History of Greek Religion by Martin Persson Nilsson