GENIUS

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GENIUS. The Genii of the Romans were the same as the demons of the Greeks. According to the belief of the Romans (says Wieland), which was common to almost all nations, every person had his own Genius; i. e., a spiritual being, which introduced him into life, accompanied him during the course of it, and again conducted him out of the world at the close of his career. The Genii of women were called Junones. Male servants swore by the Genius of their master, female ones by the Juno of their mistress, and the whole Roman empire by the Genius of Augustus, and of his successors. As the religion of the Greeks and Romans in general was connected with no distinct and settled system, but their whole creed was indefinite, wavering and arbitrary, OlAHM^V/V , Wild ^V^JlJ \Jll\yj UVV/UIUJU^ IU UIO pleasure, belfeved either in two Genii, a white and good one, to whom he was indebted for the favorable events of his life, and a black and evil one, to whom he ascribed all his misfortunes; or in but one, who, as Horace (Epistles, ii, 2,) says, was black and white at the same time, and, according to the behavior of a man, his thend or enemy. From this opinion originated the expressions "to have an incensed Genius," "to reconcile his Genius," " to treat his Genius well," &c. The stronger, more powerful, prudent, watchful, in short, the more perfect a Genius was, and the greater the friendship which he entertained for the person under his protection and influence, the happier was the condition of that man, and the greater were his advantages over others. Thus, for instance, an Egyptian conjurer put Antony on his guard against his colleague and brotherinlaw, Oetavianus. "Thy Genius," said he, " stands in fear of his. Though great by nature, and courageous, yet, as often as he approaches the Genius of that young man, he shrinks, and becomes small and cowardly." The belief of the ancients in Genii (for not only every man, but eveiy being in nature, had a Genius) was, no doubt, a consequence of their idea of a divine spirit pervading the whole physical world. Whatever gave a thing duration, internal motion, growth, life, sensibility and soul, was, according to their opinion, a part of that common and universal spirit of nature ; therefore Horace calls the Genius the god of human nature. He is not the man himself, but he is what renders every one an individual man. His individuality depends on the life of this man; and, as soon as the latter dies, the Genius is lost again in the universal ocean of spirit, from which, at the birth of that man; he emanated, in order to give to that portion of matter, of which the man was to consist, an individual form, and to animate this new form. Horace, therefore, calls him mortalem in unumquodque caput. As the Greeks were accustomed to clothe all invisible things, and all abstract ideas, in beautiful human forms, the Genius of human nature also received a particular image. He was represented as a boy, or rather of an age between boyhood and youth, slightly dressed, in a garment spangled with stars, and wearing a wreath of flowers, or a branch of maple, or naked, and with wings, like the Genius in the villa Borghese, of whose beauty Winckelmann speaks with JU<u.k7l, WUJlliUIJIJ UUIJOIUI^U UL/Ht) Ol/^llI Hibe the lineal descendants of the Devalahs and Rakshasas of the Hindoo mythology. They were never worshipped by the Arabs, nor considered as any thing more than the agents of the Deity. Since the establishment of Mohammedanism, indeed, they have been described ab invisi ble spirits; and their feats and deformi ties, which figure in romance, are as littte believed by the Asiatics as the tales of Arthur's round table are by ourselves. They are supposed to be a class of intermediate beings, between angels and men, of a grosser fabric than the former, and more active and powerful than the latter. Some of them are good, others bad; and they are, like men, capable of future salvation or condemnation. Their existence as superhuman beings is indeed maintained by the Mussulman doctors, but that has little connexion with their character and functions as delineated by the poets. In poetry, they are described as the children and subjects of Jan ibn Jan, under whom, as their sole monarch, they possessed the world for 2000 years, till their disobedience called down the wrath of the Most High, and the angel Iblis, or Eblis, was sent to chastise and govern them. After completely routing Jan ibn Jan, Iblis succeeded to his dignity ; but. turning rebel himself, he was afterwards dethroned, and condemned to eternal punishment. The Afrits and Ghouls, hideous spectres, assuming various forms, frequenting ruins, woods, and wild, desolate places, and making men, and other living beings, their prey, are often confounded with the Jinns, or Divs, of Persian romance, though probably they are of Arabian origin, and only engrafted in later times on the mythological system of Persia and India. Genius is something in human nature, so mysterious, that it with difficulty admits of a precise definition. It takes its name from the Latin word genius. (See the preceding article.) Genius combines opposite intellectual qualities ; the deepest penetration with the liveliest fancy; the greatest quickness with the most indefatigable diligence, and the most resolute perseverance ; the boldest enterprise with the soundest discretion. It discovers itself, by effecting, in any department of human action, something extraordinary. To what is old it gives a new form; or it invents the new; and its own productions are altogether original. Hence originality is a necessary consequence of genius o and there is a pleonasm in the phrase " original genius." The quality of genius determines beforehand, that the man in whom it is found possesses ability superior to that of others of his race ; ability which opens new paths for itself. It is, therefore, a particular modification of the common nature. In a word, genius pertains to individuality, and as this is incomprehensible, so that cannot be defined, but must be considered as something innate. We estimate it higher than talent, in the common acceptation of that term, which, in the capacity for originating in extent and energy, is inferior to genius. Where ordinary powers advance by slow degrees, genius soars on rapid wing. But genius does not assume its distinctive character in every exercise of its powers. A gifted poet, for instance, is not, therefore, an ingenious philosopher, nor does the statesman's genius include that of the soldier. We distinguish this genius, therefore, into various kinds, as military, poetical, musical, mathematical genius, &c.; thus, for example, Mozart possessed a genius for music, Gothe for poetry, Raphael for painting, Newton for mathematics, Kant for philosophy, &c. &c. A universal genius, in the time sense of the phrase, is what never has been, and never will be seen, if we suppose this to signify one who can excel in every walk of science and art; for this is inconsistent with the circumstances and conditions required for attaining perfection in each. But if this phrase be limited to the capacity of excelling in any or every art or science to which a man of genius should devote himself, we must acknowledge, that the happy constitution of mind possessed by such a man, does capacitate him so to excel, the necessary application of his mind to the subject being supposed. And, although celebrated artists have seldom excelled in the walks of science, yet there have been men, who have labored with equal success in various branches of art and science; thus Michael Angelo was equally celebrated as a statuary, architect, and painter; Leibnitz, as a philosopher, mathematician and jurisprudent.