This page of the book is from "The New Student's Reference Work: Volume 3" by Chandler B. Beach, Frank Morton McMurry and others.
MYTHOLOGY 1297 MYXOMYCETES
adays we are impatient with men who insist on doing this ; but in former times every one did it and to a much greater extent. We speak of the angry sky, the threatening cloud, the fierce winds, the gentle breeze, the smiling dawn. But the savage and the man of former days share the belief that the sky really is an angry and threatening person and that the bright morning is indeed the smile of the sun god or goddess. A fifth cause of myths is the strange and lawless actions of our dreams; these the primitive man regards as information concerning another world, where things do occur in what we call the "crazy" fashion of our dreams. Thus many myths are just like nightmares, so horrible and impossible are they. Sixth among the causes we may place the reverence and fear that men have for the great dead, especially for ancestors. These they often seemed to see in dreams, as if they lived still. A seventh cause is the delight which men, as well as children have in a "make-believe" world. The myth-maker dreamed of a better world that perhaps had once been and perhaps again would be ; and this dream he called true, because he could not bear to believe that there was no truth in it. As an eighth cause we may mention the activity of priests and moralists in inventing stories or altering traditions in such a way as to persuade people who believed their inventions to conform to the religious practices or the moral principles which were thought desirable. Probably this is the explanation of the myth that Apollo once came down from heaven to drive away some would-be robbers of his temple. Those who believed the story would be slow to incur a visit from the god. It is highly probable that a mere confusion of words sometimes gave rise to a myth among a wonderloving people. Thus, when men sang the words of some ancient poet, in which he told how the sun pursued the dawn, they
may have believed that he described an actual pursuit of one deity by another; and thus arose the story of Apollo and Daphne.
We have therefore suggested nine causes for myths: (1) Ignorance, (2) astonishment or ^wonder, (3) delight in the play of the imagination, (4) personification, (5) dreams,
(6) fear or reverence for ancestors or heroes,
(7) delight in contemplating the ideal world, the world of make-believe, (8) allegorical teaching and finally (9) the misunderstanding of metaphors. This list of causes seems to include all that have been suggested by different writers on the science of mythology; but we should recall the theories of Euhemerus (316 B. C.) that myths are a mere perversion of traditions that described what actually had occurred long ago ; of the Roman Stoics that all myths are allegorical; of Herbert Spencer that they owe their origin to ancestor worship ; of Max Müller that they are based on the misunderstanding of metaphors ; and of Grimm that they are the work, not of the learned few who would direct the many ignorant, but of the people at large.
Myxomycètes (miks-o-mï-së'tēz), organisms commonly called slime-moulds, which do not seem to be related to any group of plants and have raised the question as to whether they are to be regarded as plants or animals. The ordinary body is a mass of naked protoplasm, called the Plasmodium, suggesting the term slime. This body slips along like a gigantic amœba. Slime-moulds are common in forests, upon black soil, fallen leaves, decaying logs, and are slimy, yellow or orange masses, ranging from the size of a pin-head to that of a man's hand. In certain conditions these slimy bodies come to rest and organize elaborate and often very beautiful spore-cases. As is often remarked, the body of these organisms is animal-like, while the sporangia are plant-likü