Dæmon in the Wood; The Ritual Fallacy

Arthur Evans’ Tree of Aniconic Divinity
page five

Nevertheless, certain elements that belong to the fabulous pattern of the Two Trees other than the trees themselves can be discerned in Minoan and Mycenaean iconography. The green tree, for example, was consistently associated with food, not only vegetable but also animal. Sometimes it was a fruit tree, as in the ‘hypaethral sanctuaries’ on the margins of the Bronze-Age seals already displayed in these pages. But the green tree sometimes stood also at the center of engravings, usually without fruit, and when it did, it often had herbivorous, edible animals flanking it on either side:

Fig. 23. A lentoid gem with intaglio from Goulas, Crete. (After Evans.)

Fig. 24. Impression of a crystal signet ring from Mycenae.
(Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.)

Fig. 25. Impression of a gold signet ring from Mycenae.
(Courtesy of Hugo Pini.)

This same arrangement of figures, two four-legged animals and a tree, was otherwise used with the hewn pillar instead of the green tree at the center. In that case the flanking animals or preternatural theriomorphs were carnivores and potential manslayers, but they were posed tamely beside the pillar as though they were thoroughly domesticated. The contrast between the domesticity of the hewn pillar with its ferocious attendants and the wild scene with its green tree and timid herbivores is nowhere clearer than in the famous lion-gate of Mycenae:

Fig. 26. The gate of Mycenae.

Fig. 27. Detail: the pillar-and-lion relief over the Mycenaean gate.


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