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Besides number, another characteristic, visible in substances, is that of sex. Every substance is either male or female ; or both male and female; or neither one nor the other. So that with respect to sexes and their negation, all substances conceivable are comprehended under this fourfold consideration.
Now the existence of Hermaphrodites being rare, if not doubtful; hence language, only regarding those distinctions which are more obvious, considers words denoting substances to be either masculine, feminine, or neuter.
As to our own species, and all those animal species which have reference to common life, or of which the male and the female, by their size, form, colour, &c. are eminently distinguished, most languages have different substantives to denote the male and the female. But as to those animal species which either less frequently occur, or of which one sex is less apparently distinguished from the other, in these a single substantive commonly serves for both sexes.
In the English tongue it seems a general rule," (except only when infringed by a figure of speech,) that no substantive is masculine, but what denotes a male animal substance; none feminine, but what denotes a female animal substance; and that where the substance has no sex, the substantive is always neuter.
But it is not so in Greek, Latin, and many of the modern tongues. These all of them have words, some masculine, some feminine, (and those, too, in great multitudes,) which have reference to substances where sex never had existence. To give one instance for many. Mind is surely neither male nor female, yet is vous, in Greek, masculine, and mens, in Latin, feminine.
In some words, these distinctions seem owing to nothing else than to the mere casual structure of the word itself: it is of such a gender, from having such a termination, or from belonging perhaps to such a declension. In others we may imagine a a more subtle kind of reasoning, a reasoning which discerns,
kind of common appellative, to denote all After this manner they are distinthose who had pretensions to merit in the guished by Aristotle : Tậv ovojátwv od same way. Thus every great critic was μέν άρρενα, τα δε θήλεα, τα δε μεταξύ. called an Aristarchus ; every great warrior, Poet. cap. 21. Protagoras, before him, had an Alexander ; every great beauty, a Helen, established the same distinction, calling &c.
them άρρενα, θήλεα, και σκεύη. Aristot. A Daniel come to judgment ! yea, a Daniel, Rhet. l. iii. c. 5. Where mark what were cries Shylock in the play, when he would afterwards called où détepo, or “neuters," express the wisdom of the young lawyer. were by these called τα μεταξύ και σκεύη. .
So Martial in that well known verse, d Nam quicquid per naturam sexui non Sint Mecenates, non deerunt, Flacce, Ma- adsignatur, neutrum haberi oporteret, sed
id ars, &c. Consent. apud Putsch. p. 2023, So Lucilius,
2024. Aiylaitot montes, Ælnæ omnes, asperi The whole passage, from Genera homiAthones.
num, quæ naturalia sunt, &c. is worth F6001 Qaélovtes, Aeukaliwves. Lucian. in perusing. Timon. vol. i. p. 108,
even in things without sex, a distant analogy to that great natural distinction, which (according to Milton) animates the world.
In this view, we may conceive such substantives to have been considered as masculine, which were “conspicuous for the attributes of imparting or communicating; or which were by nature active, strong, and efficacious, and that indiscriminately, whether to good or to ill; or which had claim to eminence, either laudable or otherwise."
The feminine, on the contrary, were “such as were conspicuous for the attributes either of receiving, of containing, or of producing and bringing forth; or which had more of the passive in their nature than of the active; or which were peculiarly beautiful and amiable ; or which had respect to such excesses as were rather feminine than masculine.”
Upon these principles the two greater luminaries were considered, one as masculine, the other as feminine; the sun ("Hicos,
Sol”) as masculine, from communicating light, which was native and original, as well as from the vigorous warmth and efficacy of his rays; the moon (ennun, "Luna") as feminine, from being the receptacle only of another's light, and from shining with rays more delicate and soft. Thus Milton :
First in his east the glorious lamp was seen,
From him ; for other light she needed none. Par. Lost, vii. 370. By Virgil they were considered as brother and sister, which still preserves the same distinction :
Nec fratris radiis obnoxia surgere luna. Georg. i. 396. The sky or ether is in Greek and Latin masculine, as being the source of those showers which impregnate the earth. The earth, on the contrary, is universally feminine, from being the grand receiver, the grand container, but above all from being the mother (either mediately or immediately) of every sublunary substance, whether animal or vegetable." Thus Virgil:
Tum Pater omnipotens fæcundis imbribus æther
• Mr. Linnæus, the celebrated botanist, it the basis of his botanic method. has traced the distinction of sexes through- f Senecæ Nat. Quæst. iii, 14. out the whole vegetable world, and made
Thus Shakspeare :
Common mother, thou
Tim, of Athens. So Milton:
Whatever earth, all-bearing mother, yields. Par. Lost, b. v. So Virgil:
Non jam mater alit Tellus, viresque ministrat." Æn, xi, 71. Among artificial substances, the ship (valls, “navis") is feminine, as being so eminently a receiver and container of various things, of men, arms, provisions, goods, &c. Hence sailors, speaking of their vessel, say always, “she rides at anchor,” “ she is under sail."
A city (mrólis, “civitas ") and a country (Tatpis, “patria ”) are feminine also, by being like the ship) containers and receivers; and further by being, as it were, the mothers and nurses of their respective inhabitants. Thus Virgil :
Salve, magna parens frugum, Saturnia Tellus,
Georg. ii. 173. So, in that heroic epigram on those brave Greeks who fell at Chæronea:
Γαία δε πατρις έχει κόλποις των πλειστα καμόντων
Their wearied bodies." i
The city, which thou seest, no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earth. Par. Reg. b. iv. As to the ocean, though from its being the receiver of all rivers, as well as the container and productress of so many vegetables and animals, it might justly have been made (like the earth) feminine; yet its deep voice and boisterous nature have, in spite of these reasons, prevailed to make it male. Indeed, the very sound of Homer's
Μέγα σθένος 'Ωκεανοίο, would suggest to a hearer, even ignorant of its meaning, that the subject was incompatible with female delicacy and softness.
Time, (xpóvos,) from his mighty efficacy upon every thing around us, is by the Greeks and English justly considered as masculine. Thus in that elegant distich, spoken by a decrepit old man:
“Ο γάρ χρόνος μ' έκαμψε, τέκτων ού σοφός,
*Απαντα δ' εργαζόμενος ασθενέστερα. Nauuntop yî xaipe. Græc. Anth. p. 281. peúovol. Arist. de Gener. Anim. i. c. 2. * Διό και εν τω όλη την γης φύσιν, ώς i Demost. in Orat. de Corona. θηλύ και μητέρα νομίζουσιν ουρανόν δε k 'Ω Χρόνε, παντοίων θνητών πανεπίκαι ηλίον, και εί τι των άλλων των τοιού- OKOTE Aaimov. Græc, Anth. p. 290. των, ως γενώντας και πατέρας προσαγο- · Stob. EcL p. 591.
“Me time hath bent, that sorry artist, he
That surely makes, whate'er he handles, worse."
ORL. Whom doth he gallop withal ?
As you like it. The Greek Oávatos or aians, and the English death, seem, from the same irresistible power, to have been considered as masculine. Even the vulgar with us are so accustomed to this notion, that a female death they would treat as ridiculous."
Take a few examples of the masculine death.
Αι δε τεαι ζώουσιν αήδονες ήσαν και πάντων
" Yet thy sweet warbling strains
Ilis hand e'er lay, tho' ravager of all.” In the Alcestis of Euripides, Oávatos, or “Death,” is one of the persons of the drama: the beginning of the play is made up of dialogue between him and Apollo; and toward its end there is a fight between him and Hercules, in which Hercules is conqueror, and rescues Alcestis from his hands.
It is well known, too, that sleep and death are made brothers by Homer. It was to this old Gorgias elegantly alluded, when, at the extremity of a long life, he lay slumbering on his deathbed. A friend asked him, “How he did ?” “Sleep (replied the old man) is just upon delivering me over to the care of his brother." Thus Shakspeare, speaking of life:
Merely thou art Death's fool ;
Meas. for Meas. So Milton:
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair
Par. Lost, xi. 489. The Supreme Being (God, eòs, Deus, Dieu, &c.) is in all languages masculine, inasmuch as the masculine sex is the superior and more excellent; and as he is the Creator of all, the Father of gods and men. Sometimes, indeed, we meet with such words as TÒ IIpôtov, Tò elov, Numen, Deity, (which last we English join to a neuter, saying Deity itself;) sometimes,
m Well, therefore, did Milton, in his • Ήδη με ο ύπνος άρχεται παρακατατίParadise Lost, not only adopt death as a θεσθαι τ' 'Αδελφώ. Stob. Εcl. p. 600. person, but consider him as masculine: in • Suppose in any one of these examples which he was so far from introducing a we introduce a female death ; suppose we phantom of his own, or from giving it a read, gender not supported by custom, that per- And over them triumphant Death her dart haps he had as much the sanction of na- Shook, &c. tional opinion for his masculine death, as What a falling off! How are the nerves the ancient poets had for many of their and strength of the whole sentiment weakdeities.
I say, we meet with these neuters. The reason in these instances seems to be, that as God is prior to all things, both in dignity and in time, this priority is better characterized and expressed by a negation, than by any of those distinctions which are co-ordinate with some opposite; as male, for example, is co-ordinate with female, right with left, &c. &c.P
Virtue (åpety, virtus) as well as most of its species, are all feminine, perhaps from their beauty and amiable appearance, which are not without effect even upon the most reprobate and corrupt.
Abash'd the devil stood,
Par. Lost, iv. 846. This being allowed, vice (kaxia) becomes feminine of course, as being, in the ovotoixía, or “co-ordination of things,” virtue's natural opposite."
The fancies, caprices, and fickle changes of fortune would appear but awkwardly under a character that was male: but taken together, they make a very natural female; which has no small resemblance to the coquette of a modern comedy, bestowing, withdrawing, and shifting her favours, as different beaus succeed to her good graces.
Transmutat incertos honores,
Hor. Why the furies were made female is not so easy to explain, unless it be that female passions of all kinds were considered as susceptible of greater excess than male passions, and that the furies were to be represented as things superlatively outrageous.
Talibus Alecto dictis exarsit in iras.
Æn, vii. 455. " p Thus Ammonius, speaking on the same Immo vero cum Deum masculino genere subject : Tò apôtov aeyouev, čo o uso è appellamus, ita ipsum nominamus, genus των διά μυθολογίας παραδόντων ημίν τας praestantius submisso atque humili prefeθεολογίας ετόλμησέ τις και αρρενωπόν, η rentes. Ammon. in lib. de Interpr. p. 30. θυληπρεπή (lege θηλυπρεπή) διαμόρφωσιν Β. Ου γαρ εναντίον τω Πρώτα ουδέν. φέρειν και τούτο είκότως τω μεν γάρ άρ- Aristot. Metaph. Α. p. 210. Sylb. δενι το θήλυ σύστoικoν τo (lege τω) δε . They are both represented as females πάντη, απλώς αιτιώ σύστοιχον ουδέν αλλά by Xenophon, in the celebrated story of και όταν αρσενικώς τον Θεόν ονομάζομεν, Hercules, taken from Prodicus. See Me[προς] το σεμνότερον των γενών του οφει- morib. 1. ii. c. 1. As to the συστοιχία jevov apotiu@tes, oőtws aŭtor apogayo- here mentioned, thus Varro: Pythagoras ρεύομεν. . Primum dicimus, quod nemo Samius ait omnium rerum initia esse bina : etiam eorum, qui theologiam nobis fabu- ut finitum et infinitum, bonum et malum, larum integumentis obvolutam tradiderunt, vitam et mortem, diem et noctem. De vel maris vel fæminæ specie fingere ausus Ling. Lat. 1. iv. See also Arist. Metaph. est: idque merito: conjugatum enim mari l. i. c. 5, and Ecclesiasticus, chap. lxii. fainininum est. Causæ autem omnino absolutæ ac simplici nihil est conjugatum.
The words above mentioned, time, deuth,