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Loch Etive and The Sons of Uisnach
Chapter VII - Is it a Sun Myth?


The sun is the centre of power, and therefore of life and thought to our earth."

"Rejoice then, O sun, in the strength of thy youth." Macpherson's Ossian.

Margaet—I am amused, and much pleased with your story, but do you know that I have read about this, and was told that it was an old Aryan story out of the Mahabharata? The primitive story sent out from the glowing regions of India has lived among all the race that sprung from the people there, and glows still with all its vigour, sometimes with new tints, sometimes with old. What do you say?

O'Keefe.—Well, we may amuse each other. If the story of a man who kept away a lover from a young woman for some time, but at last was unsuccessful, since youth had its way, is believed by you to be an account of that which once happened in India, I will not attempt to prove otherwise. Men do not go far for stories when they can be got at hand. The ground facts have occurred millions and millions of times, and if you do not know several such occurrences among your acquaintances you must be highly favoured. Indeed, I know that it occurred amongst my on relations; but there was a modern variation of circumstances.

Loudoun.—Do you believe in spontaneous growth? Do you imagine that stories will grow of themselves anywhere? You have heard that there are but few of these stories in reality, although they are all made to appear different by change of dressing? Mr. J. G. v. Hahn tells us that there are only forty classes of stories, each with variations, and this of yours would probably belong to class 27, the Helena form. You do not now require to tell a story in full, but when anything interesting happens you have only to say, "It happened according to form 21, subform a," and so on, and the idea is given at once. These names of persons may interest some, but intellectually they mean nothing, and any name may do. As to the names of places, all our shores have been covered with wild romances, and it requires no Aryan beginning to form them ; they grow from the germs which exist in abundance in the human heart, and in human mechanism. We require no proof of spontaneous growth so long as man is one, and if you stop all connection with the past in the memory of man, new Deirdres will rise up to-morrow, new Conors, who will be treacherous and cruel, showing this character according to their stations in life and the conditions of society.

Margaet.—I fear you will speak disrespectfully of the solar myth.

Loudoun.—Yes, if driven to extremity, and of the principle that makes men bring this story from Asia. Man is the most interesting creature to man, and when he looks at the sun and the sky, he interprets their movements according to his human interests, having no words at first to express himself otherwise. We see children doing the same thing. I have known nurses calling the small clouds lambs, but they called windlestraws lambs also. Man is the true beginning, although the motion of the heavens is too important not to tinge the representation of the acts of man. The solar myth has been driven to distraction, and so has Aryanism, but the fundamental ideas as they first unfold themselves are really beautiful, and commend themselves as true. You have seen children playing with pebbles. One says, "This is papa and that is mamma, and this is the coach and the other the horse, and the fifth the whip." Objects are converted into the ideas which are in the mind. The objects need not suggest the ideas. A stool or a table or anything is made to represent a man. As the "fleecy" clouds are sometimes called sheep (and the common adjective is an abundant proof), so are the whitened curves of the sea waves called fleeces, and similar thoughts are found regarding the globe and the atmosphere around it. Of course the sun would be held the highest of his class, and ideas would grow around him with force; but new objects continually arise, and especially new individuals, men of vigour, and these have a powerful influence on others' minds, I should say the very highest and most powerful, so much so that human nature has been exaggerated, and ideas from the heavens have been transferred to it. For this reason I have great faith in the human nucleus of a so-called myth, but am willing enough to believe in the ideal characteristics caught from the sun's glory, and made use of to symbolize the greatness of the man to be praised. Even when a hero is gifted with divine attributes, I do not suppose him to have grown in the sky, but to have had an ideal life from the sky transferred to him.

When Phoebus mounts his car, we have a very human beginning and a very advanced civilization. It is mere imagery, so far as the car is concerned, exactly as the waves are called lambs and fleeces.

Man and his ways are the beginning of stories. The doings of man are the most interesting stories to man, but the highest expression for all these is got from the heavens. When ideas rise so high they gain in interest: they are human, yet in a certain sense superhuman. In order to exalt man, we take our imagery from heaven. That the highest or strangest images are transferred from place to place, from heaven to earth, is certain, and heaven and earth are intermingled, the human always predominating.

Margaet.—But do none ever begin with the sun?

Loudoun.—I will not go so far, but every one seems to have a solid root in the very common earth, where so many other ideas grow. In other words, if men find any connection with the sun in the story of the Uisnachs, or any similar tale, the explanation must be that human beings began the greatness, and similar beings have tried to put solar radiance round it; but I do not see a reason even for that. The whole story is possible, probable, natural, and simple.


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