Animals and plants: in what sense of comparison with them? Ancient roots of metaphorical thinking
it would Seem, everything is simple: animals and plants possess a certain appearance and characteristic features of behavior therefore it is told: “a coward hare“, “a cunning fox“, “a silly and greedy wolf“, “an ingenuous and strong bear“, “faithful horse“, “a devoted dog“, “a fast deer“, “a sharp-sighted falcon“, “a harmonous mountain ash“, “a mighty oak“ etc. However not everything is so unambiguous
. All listed images (as well as others, remained outside the provided list) can have also other characteristics caused by the different reasons and circumstances. Unless the lopsided ryabinka, the dried-up oak, the stumbling horse, a lame deer do not meet in reality?
And as reception and turn of a fantastic or poetic plot it is possible to find unusual treatments in literature. Let`s remember at least a coward lion from N. Volkov`s fairy tale “The wizard of the Emerald city“ (contrary to the traditional force, bravery and royalty of an animal) or “a refined giraffe“ at N. Gumilev (unlike an ordinary sign of a dolgovyazost). Thus, so far as concerns symbolical images, take place both their natural qualities, and appropriated of
That is why a bear in the original version of the fairy tale “Lime Leg“ devours the old man and the old woman does not look simple-minded at all. The red cheat in fantastic plots quite often is absolutely unreasonable, it is enough to address “Chanterelle with a skalochka“: having taken offense at the tail, the heroine exposes it from a hole outside, on eating up to dogs then it is easy to expect the deplorable final of its existence. But the character whose name is followed by a rhyme “teeth silk“ in the fairy tale “Ivan Is the Tsarevitch and the Grey Wolf“, not the fool more likely it is the magic assistant to the hero.
Why does that happen? The matter is that symbolical value of images arises not from scratch and quite often has even no relation as to concrete habits, features of behavior, and appearance of an animal or a tree, grass, flower. On that is a variety of reasons socially - psychological and cultural character.
Since an ancient time it was moved that at any evidence and brightness of characteristics of this or that representative of flora and fauna of people did not compare and did not transfer to itself these lines while they did not become necessary for a survival or for implementation of the most important social relations.
Besides, various inhabitants of a natural kingdom depending on their prevalence in the concrete region or communication with the mythologized progenitor can personify the same qualities. For example, practically all figurative comparisons with a bear accepted in Europe and Siberia are duplicated by a tiger in Hugo - East Asia (China, Japan etc.) and the characteristic of cunning inherent in a fox distributed at us, the monkey personifies there. And it in spite of the fact that both the bear, and a fox in these regions are well-known.
Sometimes without special knowledge of features of fauna and flora of the concrete district, and also ancient traditions of its inhabitants it is impossible to understand value of metaphorical expressions. Let`s tell, you would guess what you are praised, on the remark “wise, as hoopoe“? Meanwhile, at ancient Persians it was very respectful comparison. And if the turtle, first of all, means sluggishness for Europeans, then in many tribes of North America comparison with it meant recognition of wisdom and greatness.
If we managed to be had by some miracle to Ancient Rome, then, remembering an idolization of founders of the eternal city Romula and Ram, and so - honoring of the she-wolf who raised them, we could misinterpret comparison of the lady to the representative of the gray toothy tribe because, strangely enough, in those days those called women of easy virtue here. But likening expressed to a goose a vigilance appreciation as, as we know, these birds saved Rome once, having woken the loud laughter soldiers at approach of the enemy.
Here that still curiously. The Zoomorfny symbolics of positive character, first of all, corresponds with day, in the spring, in the summer etc., and negative - to time and seasons the most dangerous - night, winter. There are a lot of examples: the bat leading a nocturnalism most often acts as a symbol and a metaphor of death, darkness, secret; the rooster announcing a dawn in allegories acts, first of all, as the defender, attribute of the sun as at its third morning shout all evil spirits run up (“Viy“ Gogol you remember?) .
It is not less essential that the positive zoomorfny and vegetable metaphor has a direct bearing on the main product of consumption, that is on satiety and content. Often speak: “hair gold, as wheat“ as this cereal is consecrated as the main food product; “the person is noble as a deer“ as hunting for this animal is important for life support. If this or that tribe in the activity depends on hunting for a bear, then his image contacts not only force and power, but also prosperity. For example, Slavs a zoomorfny image of god Velez had a bear, and Velez contacted wealth, fertility and an issue of cattle.
One more aspect of comparison is class and professional accessory. Among soldiers and governors, most often, it was accepted to use images of strong and predatory animals: wolf, leopard, lion, tiger etc. Weavers were happy when their work was assimilated to spiders; farmers emphasized the bull force and endurance; the dexterous hunter was correlated to an elk, the prompt hostess - with a bee or an ant etc.
Characterizing appearance or behavior of the person, also for a long time resorted to the metaphor based on images of animals and plants. Said about the young beauty that she is slender as a ryabinka or as a gazelle. Spoke of the pompous person: “It was inflated as a turkey-cock“. Dressed up called the dandy, and called the sly fellow “the evil as foxes“.
At last, one of the most significant types of a vegetable and zoomorfny metaphor that is that corresponds to mythical animals. For example, expression “it is rich as a dragon“ it is connected with ideas that he stores infinite treasures in the cave. For designation of maiden purity and innocence resorted to a legendary image of a unicorn. It is still possible to hear that the one who “goes too far“ in the rigid management and administration is compared to the Cerberus - the infernal dog guarding on representations of ancient Greeks, an exit from the Aida.