- 西洋古典學研究 (ISSN:04479114)
- vol.7, pp.25-38, 1959-03-30
In Japanse mythology, Susanowo-no Mikoto is the god of the sea, of the nether world and of "the universal destruction. In these characters, he is almost identical to the Greek Poseidon. And by comparing the myths of the two gods, we can prove that he is even a Horse God like Poseidon. Thus a comparison of the two gods is very instructive, and affords much help in elucidating the obscure points of their myths. For example, the myth of the dispute over Attica between Athena and Poseidon is compared to that over heaven between Amaterasu-Omikami (goddess of the sun, and of the cereal) and her brother Susanowo. In the Japanese myth, this is not a mere dispute, but an invasion of heaven, the domain of the sun- goddess, by the destructive Susanowo. So, the original form of the Athenian myth must have been the invasion of Attica, the domain of Athena, by the destructive Poseidon. In the same way, the controversy of Poseidon with the sun about Corinth, and that with Hera about Argos (Paus. II 1 & 22), must have been originally the invasion of the Sea God, the Flood God in Argos, of these respective lands. The Japanese myth tells also that Amaterasu-Omikami, the sun-goddess, to conciliate the invader, afterwards accepted his proposal to bear children with him, and that by both standing face to face on the opposite side of the celestial river, the god and goddess respectively gave birth to many children (Perhaps the original form of the Athenian myth was that Athena, accepting a similar proposal of Poseidon, gave birth to the olive, and he to Thalassa. But this original form was rationalized afterwards.). Evidently, the prudery and the respect surrounding Imperial Household have here obscured the myth. But the comparison with the myth of Demeter and Poseidon in Arcadia (Paus. VIII 25 & 42) demonstrates beyond doubt that there was in fact a violation of Amaterasu-Omikami by Susanowo. And what is important is that Susanowo threw the skin of a horse into the weaving house of the goddess, breaking the roof, so that the goddess, surprised, wounded her sex with the shuttle, and, furious, hid herself in the dark cave (that is to say, she died). Consequently the whole world was invaded by dark and famine. Here also are much obscuring and distortion of the original form of the myth, due to the prudery and the respect for the deity. But here also the comparison with the Greek myth is very instructive, and attests that Susanowo was a horse (in reality a priest wearing the skin of a horse), when he had violated the goddess, and thus caused her death. (The tradition of Onkeon assures us that Demeter herself was then in the form of a mare, which must be a rationalized interpretation of later age. Primitively, all Hieros Gamos were performances by a human goddess and an animal god.) Thus, that Susanowo was also a Horse God is beyond doubt, and we also find the true meaning of Demeter's going in the cave (death) and a very clear suggestion of the cause of her death. In any case, we can thus, by this comparative method, establish the existence of the rite of Hieros Gamos performed by a 'human goddess with a Horse God in Greece and in Japan ; this rite constituting the first part of a double Hieros Gamos which represents and celebrates the death and the revival of the solar and cereal goddess. And although the Arcadian myth had only conserved the first part of this double Hieros Gamos, its complete development is clearly visible in the mysteries of Eleusis and in the Japanese myth of Amaterasu. (She is resuscitated by a Hieros Gamos of the goddess Ameno-Uzume with the god Sarudahiko, as Demeter was by that of Baubo with Iakkhos. ) But these myths, both Greek and Japanese, represent not only the Hieros Gamos rite of the revival of spring. They contain or conceal also some corresponding historical facts of the same nature on both sides. That is to say, I believe, one can find in them : 1. an invasion by the sea-men of the cultivated lands, and a war to subjugate the original habitants; 2. the conciliation of the sea-men with the original habitants by means of marriage ; 3. the new invasion by the mounted people who came to land across the sea. Of course, these historical facts were so much obscured as to form the myths. So, it is one of the principal aims of comparative mythology to elucidate these obscurities, and to find the facts through the myths ; at least to restore the original forms of the myths by comparing and analyzing their variously distorted or obscured forms in diverse civilizations.