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Odysseus did as he was directed. The bloodless shades flocked about him, as he sat there guarding the life-renewing blood; but even those dearest to him he forbade to touch that consecrated draught.
"And then the soul of Anticleia came,
My own dead mother, daughter of the king
Alive, what time I sailed for Troy, and now
And yet forbade her, though with grief, to come
He too came, the Theban seer,
Tiresias, bearing in his hand a wand
Of gold; he knew me and bespake me thus :-
The light of day to come among the dead,
And, after drinking of the dark red blood,
The blameless prophet turned to me and said-"1
Then came the prophecy from the blood-revivified seer. The wide-spread popular superstition of the vampire and of the ghoul seems to be an outgrowth of this universal belief that transfused blood is re-vivification. The bloodless shades, leaving their graves at night, seek renewed life by drawing out the blood of 'Bryant's Odyssey, Bks. x. and xi.
those who sleep; taking of the life of the living, to supply temporary life to the dead. This idea was prevalent in ancient Babylon and Assyria.1 shown itself in the Old World and in the New,2 in all the ages; and even within a little more than a century, it has caused an epidemic of fear in Hungary, "resulting in a general disinterment, and the burning or staking of the suspected bodies."3
An added force is given to all these illustrations of the universal belief that transferred blood has a vivifying power, by the conclusions of modern medical science concerning the possible benefits of bloodtransfusion. On this point, one of the foremost living authorities in this department of practice, Dr. Roussel, of Geneva, says: "The great vitality of the blood of a vigorous and healthy man has the power of improving the quality of the patient's blood, and can restore activity to the centres of nervous force, and the organs of digestion. It would seem that health itself can be
1 See Sayce's Anc. Emp. of East, p. 146.
2 Among the ancient Peruvians, there was said to be a class of devilworshipers, known as canchus, or rumapmicue, the members of which sucked the blood from sleeping youth, to their own nourishing and to the speedy dying away of the persons thus depleted. (See Arriaga's Extirpacion de la Idolatria del Piru, p. 21 f.; cited in Spencer's Des. Soc., II., 48.). See, also, Ralston's Russian Folk Tales, pp. 311–328. 3 Farrer's Primitive Manners and Customs, p. 23 f.
The primitive belief seems to have had a sound basis in scientific fact.
transfused with the blood of a healthy man";1 death itself being purged out of the veins by inflowing life. And in view of the possibilities of new life to a dying one, through new blood from one full of life, this writer insists that "every adult and healthy man and woman should be ready to offer an arm, as the natural and mysteriously inexhaustible source of the wonderworking elixir." 2 Blood-giving can be life-giving. The measure of one's love may, indeed, in such a case, be tested by the measure of his yielded blood.3
Roussel says that blood transfusion was practised by the Egyptians, the Hebrews, and the Syrians, in ancient times; and he cites the legend that, before Naaman came to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy,5 his physicians, in their effort at his cure, took the blood from his veins, and replaced it with other blood. Whatever basis of truth there may be in this legend, it clearly gained its currency through the prevailing conviction that new blood is new life. There certainly is ample evidence that baths of human blood were anciently prescribed as a cure for the death-representing leprosy; as if in recognition of this root idea of the re-vivifying power of transferred blood.
Pliny, writing eighteen centuries ago concerning 2 Ibid., p. 5.
1 Transfusion of Human Blood, pp. 2-4.
3 See pages 85-88, supra.
Transf. of Blood, p. 5.
52 Kings 5: 1–14.
AMYS AND AMYLION.
leprosy, or elephantiasis, says1: "This was the peculiar disease of Egypt; and when it fell upon princes, woe to the people; for, in the bathing chambers, tubs were prepared, with human blood, for the cure of it." Nor was this mode of life-seeking confined to the Egyptians. It is said that the Emperor Constantine was restrained from it only in consequence of a vision from heaven.2
In the early English romance of Amys and Amylion, one of these knightly brothers-in-arms consents, with his wife's full approbation, to yield the lives of his two infant children, in order to supply their blood for a bath, for the curing of his brother friend's leprosy.3 In this instance, the leprosy is cured, and the children's lives are miraculously restored to them; as if in proof of the divine approbation of the loving sacrifice.
It is shown, indeed, that this belief in the life-bringing power of baths of blood to the death-smitten lepers, was continued into the Middle Ages; and that it finally "received a check from an opinion gradually gaining ground, that only the blood of those would be efficacious, who offered themselves freely and voluntarily for a beloved sufferer."4 There is something
1 Hist. Nat. xxvi., 5.
2 See Notes and Queries, for Feb. 28, 1857; with citation from Soane's New Curiosities of Literature, I., 72.
3 Ibid.; also Mills's History of Chivalry, chap. IV., note.
4 See citation from Soane, in Notes and Queries, supra.
very suggestive in this thought of the truest potency of transferred life through transferred blood! It is this thought which finds expression and illustration in Longfellow's Golden Legend. In the castle of Vautsberg on the Rhine, Prince Henry is sick with a strange and hopeless malady. Lucifer appears to him in the garb of a traveling physician, and tells him of the only possible cure for his disease, as prescribed in a venerable tome:
"The only remedy that remains
Is the blood that flows from a maiden's veins,
Who of her own free will shall die,
And give her life as the price of yours!'
That is the strangest of all cures,
And one, I think, you will never try;
As something impossible to find
Before the world itself shall end!"
Elsie, the lovely daughter of a peasant in the Odenwald, learns of the Prince's need, and declares she will give her blood for his cure. In her chamber by night, her self-surrendering prayer goes up:
"If my feeble prayer can reach thee,
O my Saviour, I beseech thee,
Even as thou hast died for me,
Let me follow where thou leadest,
Let me, bleeding as thou bleedest,