The Ancient Library
 

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CHAPTER VI

THE ORDEAL

Malum virus. Bene ad discretionem epitheton addidit. Nam virus et bonum et malum est; sicut venenum : nam idem est. Venit autem a Graeco : nam illi t^dpfiaKov medium habent, id est bonum et malum.1

To understand the principle underlying the development of the Ordeal we must hark back to the primitive conception of mana or magical power. Contact with this mana is not lightly to be undertaken, and "medicine" is dangerous to handle. A Cherokee hunter, who had helped the Red Man of the Lightning in his combat with a monster, was in gratitude presented with a scale of the beast as an infallible talisman to cause him to kill game. But he was told that when he went back to camp he must hang up the medicine on a tree outside, because it was " very strong and dangerous." Even so he

1 Servius, Georgic i. 129. 99

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