Among the non-poisonous serpents the python ranks first.
The transition is easy to Apollo as a warlike god; in fact, the earlier legends represent him as engaged in strife with Python, Tityus, the Cyclopes and the Aloidae.
A little farther on, but below the Sacred Way, is another open space, of circular form, which is perhaps the iXcos or sacred threshing-floor on which the drama of the slaying of the Python by Apollo was periodically performed.
Far more noteworthy is the cult of the Python Danh-gbi of Whydah, which after taking root in Dahomey, became the most remarkable example of a thoroughly organic serpent-cult.
There are three species of crocodile, at least two chameleons (probably more when the forest is further explored), the large West African python (P. sebae) and a rare Boine snake (Calabaria).
In Africa the chief centre of serpent worship was Dahomey; but the cult of the python seems to have been of exotic origin, dating back to the first quarter of the 17th century.
And the same thread of ideas seems to recur in the " wives " of the python Danh-gbi (§ 12), the Shakti ceremonies in India for the increase of the divine energy of nature (Fergusson, 258 seq.), and, to a certain extent, in the providing of ' J.
Some -of the snakes of India are to be seen in the hotter regions, including the python and some of the venomous species, the cobra being found as high up as 8000 or 9000 ft., though not common.
Statues are often equipped with the accoutrements of war.3 The fame of the Pythian oracle at Delphi, connected with the slaying of Python by the god immediately after his birth, gave especial prominence to the idea of Apollo as a god of prophecy.
When Apollo Delphinius with his worshippers from Crete took possession of the earth-oracle Python, he received in consequence the name Pythius.
That Python was no fearful monster, symbolizing the darkness of winter which is scattered by the advent of spring, is shown by the fact that Apollo was considered to have been guilty of murder in slaying it, and compelled to wander for a term of years and expiate his crime by servitude and purification.
Possibly at Delphi and other places there was an old serpentworship ousted by that of Apollo, which may account for expiation for the slaying of Python being considered necessary.
With him she takes part in the combat with Python and with Tityus, in the slaughter of the children of Niobe, while alone she executes vengeance on Orion.
Plutarch remarked the fact that the Greek myths of Cronus, of Dionysus, of Apollo and the Python, and of Demeter, " all the things that are shrouded in mystic ceremonies and are presented in rites," " do not fall short in absurdity of the legends about Osiris and Typhon."
The largest of the serpent tribe, however, is the python (Hortulia natalensis), called inhlwati by the natives; its usual haunts are by streams amongst rocky boulders and in jungles, and instances are recorded of its strangling See R.
8 This peculiar " kinship " between serpent-clans and serpents may be further illustrated from Senegambia, where a python is supposed to visit every child of the python-clan within eight days of birth, apparently as a sign of recognition.