Ancestor-worship a form of idolatry very cornmon among the Chinese, and frequently practiced by others. Many of the South-Sea Islanders worship their deceased ancestors, but it is difficult to ascertain how much of divinity they ascribed to them. The Sintoists of Japan, the Armenians, and many of the ancient heathens observed this form of worship. Both Cicero and Pliny say that this was the ancient mode of rewarding those who had done good while on earth. The whole system of Greek and Roman mythology is tinctured with the deification of men of renown. Even the veneration which the early Christians entertained for the martyrs degenerated at length into a superstitious idolatry, which not only besought their intercessory prayers, but venerated their relics. "In the Armenian cemetery, which occupies several hundred acres on a hill that overlooks the Bosphorus, whole Armenian families, of two or three generations together, are often to be seen sitting round the tombs and holding visionary communications with their deceased friends. According to their belief, the souls of the dead pass into a place called Gayank, which is not a purgatory, for they suffer neither pain nor pleasure, but retain a perfect consciousness of the past. From this state they may be delivered by the alms and prayers of the living, which the pious Armenians give liberally for their friends" (Conder, View of all Religions). For the modes of ancestor-worship among the Chinese, SEE CHINA.

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