Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
The woodcuts in the present volume originally appeared in a large work, in two thick volumes, entitled Ancient Faiths embodied in Ancient Names. It has been suggested to me by many, that a collection of these Figures, and their explanation, are more likely to be generally examined than a very voluminous book. The one is, as it were, an alphabet; the other, an essay. The one opens the eyes; the other gives them opportunities to use their vision. The one teaches to read; the other affords means for practice. As the larger work endeavours to demonstrate the existence of a state of things almost unknown to the British public, so it is necessary to furnish overwhelming proof that the allegations and accusations made against certain nations of antiquity, and some doctrines of Christianity, are substantially true. Consequently, the number of witnesses is greater than is absolutely necessary to prove the point.
12, Rodney Street, Liverpool,
The demand which has sprung up for this work has induced the Author to make it more complete than it was originally. But it could not be made perfect without being expanded into a volume whose size would be incompatible with cheapness. When every Figure would supply a text for a long discourse, a close attention is required lest a description should be developed into a dissertation.
In this work, the Author is obliged to confine himself to the explanation of symbols, and cannot launch out into ancient and modern faiths, except in so far as they are typified by the use of certain conventional signs.
A great many who peruse a book like this for the first time, and find how strange were the ideas which for some thousands of years permeated the religious opinions of the civilised world, might naturally consider that the Author is a mere visionary—one who is possessed of a hobby that he rides to death. Such a notion is strengthened by finding that there is scarcely any subject treated of except the one which associates religion, a matter of the highest aim to man, with ideas of the most intensely earthly kind. But a thoughtful reader will readily discern that an essay on Symbolism must be confined to visible emblems. By no fair means can an author who makes the crucifix his text introduce the subject of the Confessional, the Eucharist, or Extreme Unction. Nor can one, who knows that Buddha and Jesus alike inaugurated a faith which was unmarked by visible symbolism, bring into an interpretation of emblems a comparison between the preaching of two such distinguished men. In like manner, the Author is obliged to pass over the difference between Judaism, Christianity as propounded by the son of Mary, and that which passes current for Christianity in Rome and most countries of Europe.
All these points, and many more, have been somewhat fully discussed in the Author's larger work, so often referred to in this, and to that he must refer the curious. The following pages are simply a chapter taken from a book, complete perhaps in itself, but only as a brick may be perfect, without giving to an individual any idea of the size, style, or architecture of the house from which it has been taken. If readers will regard these pages as a beam in a building, the Author will be content.
8, Vyvyan Terrace,