He had conceived the project of a work which should set in a new light the phenomena, especially the languages and mythologies, of the ancient world; and, after his father's death, he went to Paris in order to be near the necessary books.
Deus, applied to all those superhuman beings of the heathen mythologies who exercise power over nature and man and are often identified with some particular sphere of activity; and also to the visible material objects, whether an image of the supernatural being or a tree, pillar, &c. used as a symbol, an idol.
He is keen, positive, logical, combining with curious dashes of scepticism many genuine moral convictions and a good knowledge of the various national religions and mythologies whose relative value he is able to appreciate.
The honour paid by them to the serpent is connected with the old mythologies of Babylon and Egypt as well as with the popular cults of Greece and the Orient.
Merely rational philosophy, and positive, of which the content is the real evolution of the divine as it has taken place in fact and in history, and as it is recorded in the varied mythologies and religions of mankind.
During the Macedonian period Greek influences had been steadily gaining ground in Phoenicia; relations with the Greek world grew closer; the native language fell into disuse, and from the beginning of the Roman occupation Greek appears regularly in inscriptions and on coins, though on the latter Phoenician legends do not .entirely vanish till the 2nd century A.D.; while the extent to which Hellenic ideas penetrated the native traditions and mythologies is seen in the writings of Philo of Byblus.
He attempted no subjects at all commensurate with those of his great woodcuts, but contented himself for the most part with Madonnas, single figures of scripture or of the saints, some nude mythologies of a kind wholly new in northern art and founded upon the impressions received in Italy, and groups, sometimes bordering on the satirical, of humble folk and peasants.
Broadly speaking it may be said that a distinction may be drawn between " spirits " and " gods," but it is a distinction of degree rather than of kind, obvious enough at the upper end, yet shading off into manifold varieties of resemblance in the lower forms. Some writers only recognize friendly agencies as gods; but destructive powers like the volcano, or the lords of the underworld, cannot be regarded as the protectors of the life of man, yet they seem in many mythologies to attain the full personalised stature of gods with definite names.