Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/273

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The Scape-Goat in European Folklore. 259

this view Dr. Frazer points to the fact that in many cases the effigy of Death is destroyed or buried and its place in the returning procession taken by a tree or branches dressed in gay attire, while elsewhere a primitive dramatic contest, typical of the revival of vegetation, takes place between Summer and Winter. He goes on to show that there are features in these ceremonies which cannot be explained on the hypo- thesis that we have to do with nothing but ceremonies connected with the death and revival of vegetation. " The solemn funeral, the lamentations, and the mourning attire, which often characterise these ceremonies," says he, "are indeed appropriate at the death of the beneficent spirit of vegetation. But what shall we say of the glee with which the effigy is often carried out, of the sticks and stones with which it is assailed, and the taunts and curses which are hurled at it?" These latter features Dr. Frazer interprets on the theory that the Death was " not merely the dying god of vegetation, but also a public scapegoat, upon whom were laid all the evils that had afflicted the people during the past year." He sees in these rites a combination of two customs which were at one time distinct and independent — the killing of the human or animal god in order to save his divine life from being weakened by the inroads of age on the one hand, and on the other hand the annual expulsion of evils.

The popular idea of the Scapegoat is that it is a living being driven from the habitations of man and bearing with it the sins of the community. But although this description holds true of some cases, it does not apply, as Dr. Frazer points out in a footnote to his Scapegoat chapter in the Golden Bough, to the scapegoat of the Jews, which seems to have been thrown over a crag near Jerusalem instead of being set free and driven into the wilderness, as the popular version of the