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The purpose of this work is to exhibit clearly and with sufficient fulness the general characteristics of Aryan mythology, as a system which has grown up from words and phrases denoting not one or two objects only, as the sun or moon, but all the phenomena of the sensible world, as they impressed themselves on the minds of primitive men. It has not been iny object to give an exhaustive account of the myths of every branch of the Aryan race. To ascribe equal value and interest to the traditions of all the tribes included within the great Aryan family would indeed be absurd. But in the present edition I have given to the Slavonic mythology, and to some other subordinate topics, as much space as the conditions of my subject enabled me to afford.

During the twelve years which have passed since the publication of the first edition, a large amount of solid work has been done within the domain of Comparative Mythology. Of the results so gained probably the most important is the clearer light thrown on the influence of Semitic theology on the theology and religion of the Greeks. This momentous question I have striven to treat impartially; and for my treatment of it. I have to acknowledge my obligations to Mr. Robert Brown's valuable researches in the field of the great Dionysiak Myth.

In other respects the course of mythological inquiry, although it has been greatly widened, has not made any serious modifications necessary in the principles by which I have been guided, or in the details of the evidence which have determined the conclusions reached. On the whole, the result has been to strengthen in every way the foundations of the science, and to lay bare more and more clearly the origin and growth of the vast body of Aryan tradition and belief. The examination of the religious systems of Assyria, Phenicia, and Egypt bears out abundantly and precisely just those assertions of Comparative Mythologists which have been most pertinaciously called into question, and has removed beyond the reach of doubt the fact that the mighty mass of popular tradition in every Aryan land has been shaped by words and phrases describing all the varied and complex phenomena of day and night, of summer and winter, of earth and heaven.

April 14, 1882.

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With a deep consciousness of its shortcomings, but with a confidence not less deep in the security of the foundations laid by the Science of Comparative Mythology, I submit to the judgment of all whose desire it is to ascertain the truth of facts in every field of inquiry a work on a subject as vast as it is important. The history of mythology is, in a sense far beyond that in which we may apply the words to the later developements of religious systems, the history of the human mind; and the analysis which lays bare the origin and nature of Iranian dualism, and traces the influence of that dualism on the thought and philosophy of other lands, must indefinitely affect our conclusions on many subjects which may not appear to be directly connected with it.

For myself I confess candidly, and with a feeling of gratitude which lapse of time certainly has not weakened, that Professor Max Müller's Essay on Comparative Mythology first opened to me thirteen years ago a path through a labyrinth which, up to that time, had seemed as repulsive as it was intricate. I well remember the feeling of delight awakened by his analysis of the myths examined in that essay, of which it is but bare justice to say that by it the ground which it traversed was for the first time effectually broken for English

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