Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/91

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75
The Poison Maiden.

serpents or other venomous creatures by which the woman is possessed.[1] It will be noted, however, that all of these variants are of the type treated in the present chapter. If the division for the sake of purification were then regarded as more primitive and older than the division for the sake of sharing the gains or of testing the hero, it would naturally follow that all the combined types must proceed from The Grateful Dead + The Poison Maiden. Hippe followed the logical course from his premises in so regarding the relationship of the groups.[2] However, it seems clear to me—and it will be increasingly evident as we study the other groups—that the division for purification belongs solely to the compound treated in this chapter. It would follow logically from combining The Poison Maiden, where a friend saves the hero from the fatal embraces of a woman, with The Grateful Dead, where the hero is willing to divide his wife to satisfy the agreement which he has made with his benefactor. Only by such an explanation is it possible to account for the development of the several groups from a common root. The barbarous character of the division for purification, and the softening which it has undergone in the group which we have been studying, give it an appearance of antiquity to which it has no right. In point of fact, it belongs only to this group, which is thus clearly set off from all the others as an independent branch. The division for the sake of fulfilling an obligation is more widespread, though it has suffered many modifications.

  1. Russian V. and VI. are, of course, exceptions, since the woman is there a vampire.
  2. See his scheme on page 181.